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2020 Daily Trail Markers: The GOP groups trying to elect Joe Biden

As the general election unofficially kicks off, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is being aided by an unusual array of groups for a presidential election, reports CBS News associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. What makes them odd is that they are Republican. A growing number of GOP organizations are moving forward with strategic efforts to unseat a commander-in-chief of their own party — and turn the White House over to a Democrat. Appalled by Donald Trump's presidency, they are spending millions on television ads and digital campaigns and weighing ground efforts in an election year that has seen a global pandemic and major economic crisis following the impeachment trial of the president earlier this year. "We haven't really ever seen anything like this before in a general election," said Mitchell West, of Kantar/Campaign Media Analysis Group. "In primaries, there's always one Republican group that supports one specific Republican candidate and will obviously bash some others, but in terms of a general election, usually you don't see anything like this." Read more on the efforts from groups like The Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump and 43 Alumni for Joe Biden PAC here.

Meanwhile, the pro-Democrat group Priorities USA announced Friday it raised $36.6 million in the second quarter of the year, and already has an additional $12.4 million raised and committed in July. This brings their three entities total fundraising this cycle to $185 million. In June, Priorities USA had its greatest single fundraising month this cycle, bringing in $16.5 million. The organization plans to spend more than $200 million by the end of the year. "Our fundraising success has meant that we've been able to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump in battleground states while the Biden campaign becomes a general election juggernaut," said Chairman Guy Cecil in a statement.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Pitched by his campaign as a "stark contrast" to the Trump White House's view on upcoming school re-openings during the COVID-19 pandemic, Joe Biden on Friday released a "simple five-step roadmap to support local decision-making on reopening schools safely," CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. In a video accompanying the school safety checklist, Biden said "forcing students" into classrooms where COVID-19 cases are going up is "plain dangerous." "It's wrong to endanger educators and students," his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, said. The first step to school reopening, according to Biden, is "get[ting] the virus under control" with requirements of national testing and tracing capability and ensuring an effective supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical products. Then Biden calls for "emergency funding for public schools and child care providers," pushing Congress to pass the HEROES Act which has approximately $58 billion for school districts. In addition to this, Biden says the federal government should provide $30 billion in additional resources like PPE, sanitation products, custodial services, alterations to ventilation systems and class room structure. Biden also advocates for the Department of Education to create a large-scale and "high-quality remote and hybrid learning" in case virtual learning is needed in communities with prevalent COVID-19 cases.

PRESIDENT TRUMP

Republican Congressman Michael McCaul called Mr. Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the "power players behind the scenes" in the Trump campaign and its reshuffling, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. In an interview for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast, McCaul told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett that he believes Kushner was behind the decision to demote campaign manager Brad Parscale. "Jared really is the brains behind the machine in the campaign," McCaul said, adding that Kushner and Ivanka Trump were "very disappointed" by the low turnout at the rally in Tulsa last month, the president's first since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the nation in March. "I know they were both very upset with the way they talked up that rally, and very disappointing turnout. And it obviously didn't go as well as they had hoped. And I think they want to take it in a different direction now," McCaul said. Mr. Trump has also suffered from a spate of disappointing polling that shows him trailing or even with Biden, even in states Republican presidential candidates are generally expected to win. McCaul, who represents Texas' 10th Congressional District, predicted Mr. Trump would win Texas, but said, ""The question is by how much, and what that down-ballot effect is going to be."

Brand new Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien denied reports Friday that the Trump campaign was conducting an audit of campaign expenditures centered on Parscale. Jeff DeWit, the former CFO of NASA and longtime supporter of Mr. Trump who recently joined the president's reelection campaign to serve as chief operating officer, told Business Insider on Friday that he is conducting an audit of campaign contracts. "We want an effective and efficient organization, and we're certainly not targeting anybody," DeWit said. Though Stepien rarely exerts too much power or control over the president's message, Republican sources tell CBS News he began a review of campaign infrastructure and spending weeks ago after being promoted from campaign political director to deputy campaign manager in late May. "Jeff DeWit was clearly speaking to his efforts to prepare our budget for the duration of the campaign," Bill Stepien told CBS News in a statement, adding that the campaign is "pleased" with Parscale's contributions to Mr. Trump's re-election effort.

The new head of Mr. Trump's re-election effort, Bill Stepien, has a formidable task ahead and little time — less than four months to right Mr. Trump's campaign organization and messaging amid tumbling poll numbers in a presidential race shaped by a global pandemic and its economic fallout. Stepien, a traditional GOP political operative, lacks the limelight-craving swagger of the man he's replacing, Brad Parscale, who at 6'8'', was regularly spotted posing for selfies at Trump campaign rallies, served as a warm-up act for Mr. Trump, and promoted his Facebook page using campaign funds, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports. In Stepien, the president finds a more behind-the-scenes, disciplined campaign operative, jokingly described as "allergic to press" — and not nearly as frequently photographed as Parscale. Trump allies view him as a known entity. Read more about Bill Stepien here

At a campaign stop in Ripon, Wisconsin, Vice President Mike Pence portrayed Biden as a socialist who hates the police and who would be nothing more than a "Trojan horse" for the radical left, reports CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. Pence claimed that if elected president, Biden will "weaken the thin blue line that separates order from chaos," and warned that Americans "won't be safe in Joe Biden's America." Pence told the audience to remember that law and order is at stake when Biden calls for defunding the police. The VP said the choice for voters has never been clearer and the stakes have never been higher.  "Before us are two paths," Pence said. "One based on dignity of every individual and the other on the growing control of the state. Our road leads to greater freedom and opportunity, their road leads to socialism and decline." While attacking Biden for believing the "federal government needs to dictate how Americans live," Pence also said he is proud to stand with a president who supports abortion. "Their agenda is based on government control, our agenda is based on freedom," Pence added. Pence also claimed that Biden would "return to a war on coal" and "impose a regime of climate change regulations" on every home and business in the nation.  Similar to Biden's message that four more years of Trump will fundamentally alter the character of the country, Pence argued that in addition to the economic recovery being on the ballot, the foundation of America is also at stake this November. "It's not so much whether American will be more conservative or liberal, more Republican or Democrat, more red or blue," Pence said. "It's whether America remains America." This is Pence's second campaign trip in three weeks to Wisconsin. His first campaign event of the 2020 cycle was on June 23, where he kicked off the "Faith in America" in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. 

VEEPSTAKES

ELIZABETH WARREN

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown are urging 15 of the country's largest grocery store chains to reinstate pay increases for their workers and "fully implement" CDC and OSHA recommended safety precautions, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. "During this pandemic, profits are up. They aren't cutting hazard pay because business is down and it's the only way to keep the stores open," Warren said on a press call about the letter. "This is just plain wrong. Front line workers are taking all the risk." The letters, which were signed by nearly a dozen other Democratic senators, came as United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone announced that 93 union grocery workers have died and 12,405 have been infected or exposed to COVID-19 this year. In the letters, sent Thursday, the senators commended chains including Kroger Co. and Walmart for offering workers' pay bumps or bonuses in the first months of the pandemic. "Unfortunately, the pay bumps and bonuses were temporary even though the ongoing global pandemic is not, and many of your employees remain at great risk of exposure to the virus due to the nature of their jobs," they wrote. 

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