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What to expect from the Biden campaign after Trump's COVID-19 hospitalization

The Biden campaign’s new plan after Trump’s diagnosis is the old plan, sources tell Axios: Protect the candidate. Stay the course. No mistakes.

What to watch: Biden and Harris still plan to fly to Arizona on Thursday, but they're traveling from different locations on separate planes. Biden will head to South Florida for an MSNBC town hall on Monday.


  • The campaign is still preparing for two more presidential debates — but it's in discussions with the Commission on Presidential Debates about health and safety protocols.
  • Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said on ABC's "This Week": "We believe that the debates should go forward as scheduled."

The big picture: Top officials see their spring and summer strategy of limiting Biden’s travel vindicated by events. As of this weekend, they weren't signaling any dramatic final sprint to fill a void left by Trump.

  • That means short, surgical trips, no big rallies, and a strict adherence to state and national COVID-19 guidelines.

Between the lines: Restricted travel doesn’t mean restraining resources. Online cash came rolling in as a backlash to Trump's Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett and after the first presidential debate.

  • Now Biden's campaign is planning to pump millions beyond the $280m in TV and online spending announced in early August into local TV media markets.
  • Democrats expect additional big media buys in Texas and Ohio, states that Trump won handily in 2016 but that polls show could now be in reach for Biden.
  • “We would think that an investment of $25m to $30m would get Biden over the top,” Gilberto Hinojosa, Texas’ Democratic Party chairman, told Axios.
  • “I would love to have him visit, as well,” he said. “But I would rather have the money."

The other side: Trump campaign officials privately admit that his diagnosis has blown up many of their plans in the sprint to November.

  • The Trump campaign was planning to zero in on its "Biden's hiding in the basement" rhetoric for the rest of the month and draw a sharp contrast between the energy seen at Trump's massive rallies and the slimmer crowds at Biden's events.
  • Trump was planning to hold campaign rallies and hobnob with donors in battleground states for the majority of October.
  • "It's OK to press pause for a few days," said Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union. "Now he's got to beat it. ... I am praying for him."

But with Trump in quarantine for the foreseeable future, the campaign is now relying on members of the first family — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka, and Eric and Lara Trump — to carry the torch as part of a new "Operation MAGA" campaign launched Saturday.

  • Pence will also ramp up his travel schedule.
  • Pence's in-person events will begin after the vice presidential debate on Wednesday.

Defense makes closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson opened his closing argument on Monday by reminding the jury that Derek Chauvin "does not have to prove his innocence."

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial is seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades.

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Merrick Garland: Domestic terrorism is "still with us" and remains critical threat

In his first major speech, Attorney General Merrick Garland warned the nation Monday to remain vigilant against the rising threat of domestic extremism.

Why it matters: Domestic terrorism poses an "elevated threat" to the nation this year, according to U.S. intelligence. Garland has already pledged to crack down on violence linked to white supremacists and right-wing militia groups.

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"Nine minutes and 29 seconds": Prosecutors begin closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.

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European soccer goes to war over wealthy clubs' plans for exclusive "Super League"

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

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81% of S&P 500 companies have reported a positive earnings surprise for Q1

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

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NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hopping the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

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All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, meeting Biden's April 19 deadline

All 50 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have now made U.S. adults over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, meeting President Biden's April 19 deadline.

Why it matters: The landmark speaks to the increased pace of the national vaccination campaign, but will increase pressure on the federal government, states and pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate vaccine supply and logistics.

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Minneapolis braces for a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial

Minneapolis is waking up to images of an occupied city on Monday, as the city and the world await a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

What it's like: Residents running errands, picking up dinner and heading to the dog park in recent days encountered heavily-armed National Guard troops stationed throughout the city.

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