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The Daily 202: Bernie Sanders is the man to beat in New Hampshire, as the anti-Sanders vote splinters

Joe Biden holds a town hall meeting in the gym of Alvirne High School in Hudson, N.H., on Sunday night. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

with Mariana Alfaro

With Mariana Alfaro


HUDSON, N.H. – Karen Forleo thinks it would be a debacle if Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders. On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, the retired dental hygienist remains undecided between four of his rivals. She loves Pete Buttigieg’s youthful vigor, Joe Biden’s experience, Elizabeth Warren’s plans and Amy Klobuchar’s grit. But the 62-year-old isn’t sure who is the best bet to stop Sanders.

“I know he appeases the young students who have no money. Well, somebody has to pay for everything he wants,” Forleo said Sunday night after watching Biden speak for 90 minutes in a high school gymnasium here. She plans to attend rallies this afternoon for Klobuchar in Exeter and Warren in Portsmouth.

The Democrat from Lyndeborough, who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary, remains frustrated that Sanders didn’t do more to help her that fall. “If Bernie leads the ticket, I don’t think the American people are going to be ready for that. I don’t think he can beat Donald Trump,” she said. “And if Donald Trump thought he could, Trump would be all over him like he is with Joe Biden.”

The splintering among moderates like Forleo is an important part of the explanation for why Sanders, the independent senator from neighboring Vermont, is the favorite to win Tuesday’s contest. This is my sixth day on the ground here, and I’ve watched all the Democratic contenders interact with voters. Based on dozens of interviews and public polling, there’s a very fluid and incredibly tight three-way battle for third place.

Buttigieg has surged since the Iowa caucuses a week ago into a solid second-place position, prompting attacks from all directions that appear to have slowed his momentum a bit.

Biden has been tanking in the polls since finishing fourth in Iowa, prompting many people who had planned to vote for him because they perceived him as the most electable option to check out others. Klobuchar has been rising, drawing her biggest crowds of the campaign this weekend and reporting her best fundraising days yet after Friday night’s debate. 

Warren, who represents neighboring Massachusetts and led in polls of this state last summer, seems to be losing altitude here on the ground, even though she finished ahead of Klobuchar in Iowa. About a third of the people at her rally at a middle school in Concord on Sunday afternoon streamed out before she finished talking.

A brew of other factors is also working to Sanders’s advantage on the eve of the first-in-the-nation primary. Most Democrats don’t want Sanders to be their nominee, but they cannot agree on who to rally behind instead. Despite rumbling concerns of the establishment, there’s no organized Stop Sanders or Never Bernie movement. In fact, Democrats who don’t support Sanders still hold largely favorable views of him. Unlike in Iowa, where he faced nearly a million dollars in attack ads, no one is on the air here with anti-Sanders commercials. 

Sanders expanded his lead Sunday night in the final day of the Boston Globe-WBZ-Suffolk tracking pollHe garnered 27 percent among likely Democratic presidential primary voters, up from 24 to 25 percent in the previous six polls. Buttigieg, who briefly eclipsed Sanders in the poll one day last week, got 19 percent in the latest survey, followed by Klobuchar at 14 percent. Biden and Warren tied at 12 points. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent.

You should take all the polling with a grain of salt because this contest is so in flux, but two other surveys published Sunday also showcased Sanders’s relative strength among likely voters. A University of New Hampshire poll for CNN put Sanders at 28 percent, with Buttigieg at 21 percent, Biden at 12 percent and everyone else in single digits. Buttigieg led among voters who identify themselves as moderate or conservative, while Sanders led by more than 25 points among self-identified liberals. Asked whom they expect to win, regardless of whom they’re supporting, 57 percent in the CNN picked Sanders. Interestingly, Sanders also took a seven-point lead over Biden on the question of which candidate has the best chance to defeat Trump in November, a reversal since Iowa.

A YouGov poll for CBS pegged Sanders at 29 percent, up two points compared to last month, with Buttigieg at 25 percent. Most of Buttigieg’s double-digit gains in that survey come at the expense of Biden, who fell to 12 percent, trailing Warren. Only 39 percent of likely voters in the CBS poll said they’ve definitely made their final decision, and only six in 10 said they’re enthusiastic about the candidate they’re leaning toward. Sanders’s supporters were the most enthusiastic.

They compete for different kinds of voters, but Sanders has been attacking Buttigieg partly out of a desire to prevent him from coalescing moderate support and thereby overtaking him in this must-win state.

Sanders could benefit from a similar dynamic to what allowed Trump to amass an unsurpassable delegate led during the 2016 Republican primaries, even as most GOP voters opposed him. The odds, at least initially, are that all the top contenders will stay in the race beyond New Hampshire, continuing to divide up support going into the next two early states. Mike Bloomberg is waiting in the wings, spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars in states that vote on March 3, also known as Super Tuesday, when a third of all pledged delegates to the convention are awarded.

Four years ago, Sanders struggled with nonwhite voters and hit a wall because of Latinos in Nevada and African Americans in South Carolina, the next two states to vote. The senator has worked hard to make inroads with communities of color ever since, and Biden’s fade could boost Sanders in the Palmetto State by dividing up the black vote.

The Sanders campaign, which has invested heavily in organization, said that volunteers knocked on more than 150,000 doors on Saturday alone. Sanders’s field program is focused more on mobilization of known supporters than persuasion of the undecided, a contrast to the late-surging campaigns like Klobuchar’s and Buttigieg’s who are still trying to identify potential backers. The campaign said 1,981 people attended Sanders’s rally last night in Keene. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will join Sanders tonight for a massive concert the campaign is putting on in Durham, home to the University of New Hampshire, featuring The Strokes and Sunflower Bean.

The Sanders campaign slogan is “Us, not me.” But his stump speech increasingly sounds like “Us versus Them.” And the “Them” is the party establishment. He’s added a little more pitchfork to his populist tone in the recent days. “We’re taking on not only the whole Republican political establishment and Trump,” Sanders said this weekend. “We’re taking on the Democratic establishment.” His supporters from four years ago remain angry at the system and feel let down by both parties. The undercurrent of anti-elite frustration that helped propel Trump still exists in 2020, despite strong top-line economic indicators.

Nick Landry, 27 of Somersworth, said he has tried hard to keep an open mind since supporting Sanders four years ago. He considered Warren “very strongly.” He heard out entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who was intriguing, but he found his plan to give everyone a thousand bucks a month “kind of gimmicky.” After watching the Democratic debate on Friday night, he decided he’ll probably back Sanders again.

“We lost in 2016 by trying to play to the middle. As a liberal, I believe we should swing for the fences. And if we’re not going to win, let’s at least go down pushing for progressive ideals,” Landry said at a Sanders rally in the packed-to-capacity Opera House in Rochester. “Biden represents the establishment, and I think Pete and Amy are part of the establishment.”

The data analyst for an insurance company supports Medicare-for-all and badly wants stricter gun laws so that his kids will be safer at school. Landry said he totally understands why some Democrats fixate on electability, but he said Trump and Senate Republicans have shown themselves to be such “cartoonish villains” that he doesn’t believe the opposition should pander to win back the kinds of voters who supported Barack Obama in 2012 but Trump in 2016. “They’re keeping kids in cages,” Landry said. “I don’t want to necessarily be shaping our political platform around trying to appeal to people who aren’t bothered by that.”

Meanwhile, moderate voters express growing concern about what they see as a collective action problem. Siobhan Brace, 62, was the first person to ask Biden a question during his town hall meeting on Sunday night. “I love you a lot, but I am undecided,” she said. “I thought everybody did a great job in the debate, but I am afraid of that one of you cannot beat [Trump], but I think all of you could. Is there some way that you guys could put a dream team together and present that to the American people? And just say, like, Amy is going to be vice president and we’ll put Andrew [Yang] in charge of Commerce?”

The crowd cheered. Biden laughed. “There’s two ways to be on the dream team: run it or be picked,” he replied. “I promise that you my administration will look like the country. It will be made up of women and blacks and browns and people who represent the diversity of the country. There are at least six women I can think of at the top of my head who I wouldn’t have a moment’s hesitation in asking to be my vice president. I can say the same thing for at least four leading African Americans that I know.” 

Reflecting the degree to which voters still believe he’s in contention, Biden was asked again half an hour later who he might pick for vice president. Biden said he didn’t want to be presumptuous, but then he hinted that he might select Buttigieg. The 77-year-old said he could promise that he would not pick anyone who is older than him to be his No. 2, which would take out the 78-year-old Sanders. Biden added that he cannot imagine picking someone to be vice president who supports Medicare-for-all, a knock against Sanders. “But there are at least four people running that are, in fact, simpatico with where I am, starting with Indiana,” he said, a reference to Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.

Brace, who asked the first question to Biden, said in an interview afterward that she’s “terrified” Trump will win. “Bernie’s too way over there,” she said, pointing with her left arm to the other side of the room. “The Republicans that are on the fence are going to come with a moderate. We need to get some of the Republicans who do know that Trump is crazy to come over to our side, and they’re only going to do it with a moderate. So we’ve got to find a moderate.”

Independents could have outsized influence in tomorrow’s open Democratic primary because there’s not a competitive race on the Republican side. Though Trump is flying up here to hold a rally in Manchester tonight, he faces no competitive GOP primary. Polls show the incumbent president getting more than 90 percent against former Massachusetts governor William Weld. New Hampshire has 416,000 “unaffiliated” voters, who get to pick which primary to participate in.

Sanders defeated Clinton by 22 points in New Hampshire four years ago, garnering 60 percent, or 152,000 votes. Polls and interviews make clear that most of the people who backed him as the anti-Clinton candidate four years ago will not support him again this time. That said, I encountered a few people at the Sanders rally in Rochester who backed Clinton in the primary four years ago and are giving Sanders a close look.

“We need grass-roots change, and it may be more than some of the traditional establishment is willing to go, unfortunately,” said Colleen Hartnett, 57, of Windham, a software engineer who remains undecided. “I think I’m leaning more toward the progressive side rather than the moderate part of the party at this point. … Because Republicans have gone so far, the contrast is just striking. I feel like the pendulum can’t just go for a moderate swing.”

Sanders knows he needs to win this neighboring state, which is why he doesn’t hesitate to confidently predict victory. There’s no apparent effort to manage expectations. “I am absolutely confident that, with the volunteer support we have, we are going to win in New Hampshire,” Sanders said Saturday night in Manchester. He said his 2016 victory in New Hampshire was critical to winning 22 more states in the months that followed, and he said winning the primary helped put some of his ideas that were called radical four years ago into the mainstream. “We need to complete the revolution we started four years ago in New Hampshire,” he said. 

Warren losing altitude in New Hampshire also likely works to Sanders’s advantage. She drew only a modest crowd Sunday afternoon to a middle school near the state capitol. “Our democracy hangs in the balance, and it is up to you, Massachusetts, to decide what to do,” she said at the end of her speech, after more than a hundred people had left, many to go watch other candidates.

“New Hampshire,” people in the audience yelled.

“And to the people of New Hampshire,” she added, correcting herself with a laugh. 

The crowd applauded. “Thank you,” she said, appreciatively. “It is a hard time.”

Warren brushed aside a question afterward about the people who left, calling it an “enthusiastic” crowd. “It looks like it is going to be a long battle to the nomination,” she told reporters. “There are 55 more states and territories after this. … I’m in it for the long haul.”

Other candidates who struggle to get covered are trying more colorfully to contrast themselves with Sanders. James Carville, the Democratic strategist who helped elect Bill Clinton in 1992, stumped late Saturday afternoon for Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in Manchester. He emphasized that Sanders would be a problem for down-ballot Democrats, especially in competitive Senate and House races. “They’ll run away from Bernie Sanders like the devil running away from holy water,” Carville said. “If Michael Bennet is the nominee, Mitch McConnell’s going to look like he crapped a pineapple.”

Former vice president Joe Biden lobbed attacks Feb. 9 at former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who returned snipes. (Video: The Washington Post)

MORE ON 2020:

-- The Iowa Democratic Party announced last night that Buttigieg would probably receive 14 delegates to the national presidential nominating convention from the chaotic caucuses, while Sanders would receive 12. But the number may not be final. Isaac Stanley-Becker reports: “Late Sunday, Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver said the campaign will seek a partial recanvass — a process he said would put the senator from Vermont on top in the delegate count. Sanders won the popular vote, netting support from about 6,000 more caucus-goers on the first expression of preferences, known as an alignment, than Buttigieg. But the delegate allocation is based on projected support for each candidate at the state convention, known as state delegate equivalents or SDEs, which is traditionally the metric used to declare a winner of the caucuses. … Weaver said the campaign believes seven SDEs are at issue in the precincts they have identified, which is more than the 2.77 that separate the two Democrats. … Chris Meagher, a spokesman for Buttigieg, said, ‘We’re focused on New Hampshire.’

The Iowa party also said that eight delegates would go to [Warren] and six would go to [Biden]. … The update from the state party reflected its review of 55 precincts, making up about 3 percent of the total 1,765. But the review involved only rectifying discrepancies between numbers reported on math worksheets completed by caucus leaders and publicly reported data. That left untouched errors tainting the actual worksheets, where volunteer leaders had entered complex calculations based on multiple counts of caucus-night preferences — and, in some cases, made mistakes. An attorney for the state party said officials were not authorized to alter the worksheets because they represented legal documents, according to an email Troy Price, the state party chairman, sent to members of the state party’s central committee.”

-- "Democratic leaders have edged toward the brink of open war with one another in recent days," Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan report: “Advisers to the two men most responsible for overseeing the disastrous Iowa caucuses, national chairman Tom Perez and Iowa chairman Troy Price, have been privately deflecting blame onto each other, as the relationship between the two has become tense, advisers say. Price has refused to join Perez in calling for a recanvass of voting records in the state, after finding out about Perez’s demand from a deputy a few minutes before it was tweeted … Price allies blame Perez for the botched caucus count, pointing to new party rules he implemented around transparency and accessibility that increased the burdens on the state. …

At the start of the campaign, Sanders advisers repeatedly praised Perez … But that tone shifted in recent weeks, as Sanders surrogates, supporters and staff have criticized Perez for changing the debate rules and for the appointees he has placed on the various convention committees … Weaver has tried to strike a less aggressive tone, saying that the Sanders campaign still believes Perez has tried to be evenhanded. ‘Of course, given our experience, we are ever vigilant,’ he said."

-- Democrats fear a repeat of the Iowa chaos in Nevada. While some top party leaders call for the end of caucuses, top Nevada Democratic Party officials are trying to assure nervous voters that their fears are overblown. This includes former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who has been working to soothe candidate concerns about potential caucus drama. (Holly Bailey)

-- Sanders and Biden continued sparring about the role each played 18 years ago during the run-up to the Iraq War. Michael Kranish reports: “In explaining their actions to voters, however, they have both left out key details that present a more complicated picture of how they handled what both now say is one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in American history. Biden not only played a key role in helping [George W.] Bush win passage of the measure, but he also privately assured the president that ‘I think you’re doing it the exact right way,’ according to notes taken at a meeting by White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. In that meeting, Bush told Biden that though he would attempt to use diplomacy, he would use the authority to invade if he believed it was necessary, according to Fleischer’s notes. Sanders, meanwhile, agreed at the time with much of what Bush said about Iraq, including the view that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” 

-- In New Hampshire’s poorest city, there are few indications of Trump’s “blue-collar boom.” Griff Witte reports: “The unemployment rate, which was touching double digits 10 years ago as Berlin weathered the collapse of its signature mill, is down to 3 percent. The local paper is stuffed with help-wanted ads. Property values are climbing as newcomers move in. But Berlin — which thrived through most of the 20th century before the bottom fell out in the early 2000s — hardly feels like a city on the mend. More than a decade into the longest economic expansion America has ever known, residents say just about the only jobs available pay minimum wage with no benefits as out-of-pocket health-care costs surge. The last elementary school shuttered last year, capping a long-term exodus of young families. The once-bustling downtown is so scarred by closures, demolitions and fires that it looks, according to the city’s mayor, ‘like a bomb was dropped in the middle of it.’”

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The 2020 Academy Awards belonged to “Parasite.” The South Korean film won four Oscars, including the biggest prize: Best picture. (Video: The Washington Post)


-- “Parasite” became the first foreign-language film to win the Oscar for best picture during last night’s Academy Awards. Emily Yahr, Sonia Rao, Travis Andrews, Bethonie Butler and Elahe Izadi report: “In addition to making history in the night’s most prestigious category, the darkly comedic thriller is the first South Korean film to ever be nominated for an Oscar. Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho also won in the international feature and original screenplay categories, as well as best director -- triumphing over ‘1917’ front-runner Sam Mendes, whose film didn’t wind up with quite as many awards as expected. (The World War I epic, made to look like it was filmed in one shot, did land cinematographer Roger Deakins his second win.)”  

All four acting trophies wound up with the artists who dominated this awards season: Joaquin Phoenix and Renée Zellweger won for "Joker" and "Judy," and supporting actors Brad Pitt and Laura Dern for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" and "Marriage Story." In an emotional roller coaster of a speech, Phoenix called for unity. “I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively, and I think at times we feel or we’re made to feel that we champion different causes,” he said. “But for me, I see commonality. I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the right against injustice.”

-- Other notable winners included:

  • Elton John and Bernie Taupin won best original song for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from “Rocketman.”
  • “American Factory," produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, won best documentary feature.
  • Taika Waititi won best adapted screenplay for “Jojo Rabbit,” becoming the first indigenous director to ever win an Oscar.
  • Find a complete list here.

-- Commentary from The Post’s cultural critics:

  • Ann Hornaday: “‘Parasite’ upset means progress. But is it a revolution?”
  • Hank Stuever: “A decent show, if you like your Oscar nights fully automated.”
  • Elahe Izadi: “The Oscars nominated ‘Parasite’ but looked right past its all-Asian cast. It’s part of a pattern.”
  • Robin Givhan: “The Oscars red carpet was diverse, even if the nominees weren’t.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m ready to drink tonight,” said Bong, speaking English for the first time onstage that night, as he accepted the Oscar for best international feature. Later, after winning the night’s top award, Bong didn’t take the microphone, allowing Miky Lee, the mogul who built South Korea’s first movie multiplex, to speak instead.


-- The White House will propose a $4.8 trillion budget that would fail to eliminate the federal deficit over the next 10 years. “Instead, White House officials plan to say their budget proposal would close the deficit by 2035,” Jeff Stein and Erica Werner report. “During President Trump’s first year in office, his advisers said their budget plan would eliminate the deficit by around 2028. This new budget will mark the third consecutive time that they abandon that 10-year goal and instead suggest a 15-year target. This new trend shows how little progress the White House is making in dealing with ballooning government debt, something GOP party leaders had made a top goal during the Obama administration.

Trump’s first budget projected the deficit in 2021 would be $456 billion. Instead, it is projected to be more than double that amount. … As a presidential candidate, Trump said he would eliminate not just the annual federal deficit but all debt held by the United States after eight years in office. … The federal debt has already grown by about $3 trillion under Trump. … The $4.8 trillion budget for 2021 would represent a $700 billion surge over levels from 2018. … It would also propose extending tax cuts for families and individuals that are set to expire at the end of 2025. Budget experts have projected that extending those tax cuts would reduce revenue by roughly $1 trillion. … 

The Wall Street Journal first reported the budget aims to cut spending on safety-net programs such as Medicaid and food stamps … The budget is expected to propose 5 percent net cuts in domestic discretionary spending, which is expected to include cutting the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the part of CDC funding that deals with fighting the coronavirus will remain unchanged. … 

At the same time, the budget will maintain Pentagon spending at around its current level, or boost it if increases in a so-called overseas contingency account are included. As in past budgets, this one will cut heavily into programs targeting low-income communities, including slashing community development block grants and home heating assistance. The Education Department will be cut by $6 billion … The proposed budgets for nondefense domestic agencies, programs that deal with housing, environmental protection and agriculture, will fall well below spending caps that lawmakers and the administration already agreed to in a bipartisan budget deal for 2021. That all but ensures the budget will face bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill.”

-- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the Justice Department is vetting information that Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani delivered regarding Hunter Biden’s work on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Paul Kane reports: “Graham, citing an early-morning conversation with Attorney General William P. Barr, said [Giuliani] is giving his information to national security experts and that he would back off his own plans to use the Senate Judiciary Committee as a vehicle to investigate the Biden family. ‘The Department of Justice is receiving information coming out of the Ukraine from Rudy to see — he told me that they have created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it’s verified,’ [Graham] said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation.’ He warned that Giuliani might be getting bad information from his trips to Ukraine as part of a disinformation campaign by Russian security experts, citing their effort to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign. … 

Graham said he called Barr and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Sunday morning after hearing about Giuliani’s interview Saturday night on Fox News’s ‘Watters’ World.’ During the interview, the former New York City mayor made various claims about the information he has cobbled together from Ukrainian sources and said Graham should use his committee to investigate the Bidens. … ‘I have what I used to call when I was U.S. attorney, a smoking gun,’ Giuliani said. … Then, just as ‘Face the Nation’ started Sunday morning, Trump sent out a tweet urging Graham to launch an undefined investigations. … Graham appeared to back away from his assertions in recent weeks that he would lead a probe into [Joe Biden’s] time overseeing Ukraine policy while his son served on the board of Burisma.” 

-- The chairman of the group that runs the Conservative Political Action Conference warned that he would be afraid for the physical safety of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) were he to attend the annual convention. Matt Schlapp ripped the 2012 GOP nominee, who announced he was dropping out of the 2008 Republican nominating contest at CPAC. (HuffPost)

-- While Romney is being vilified by Trump and his allies inside the Beltway, many of his conservative constituents back home in Utah still have his back. From NBC News: “[We] spoke with dozens of voters in Utah in the days immediately following the Senate's vote to acquit the president. Most identified themselves as Republicans who had supported Romney in 2018 and said that regardless of their opinion of the president, Romney's decision to go against his party was one that they understood and respected for its honesty. Many said they would not hold it against the first-term senator when he faces re-election in 2024. … ‘I feel like [Romney] stands up and says, 'This is what I think' and you have the right to accept or reject that,’ said Meralee Stallings, 62, who works for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. ‘I think we are getting away from that, too. It's like if you don't agree with my opinion, then you're wrong.’ Stallings, who voted third-party for president in 2016 and supported Romney in 2018, said she is leaning toward voting for Romney again. ‘I don't agree with everything that Romney has done,’ she said, ‘but if you're going to be true to what you think is correct, then that's fine with me.’”

-- Sacred Native American burial sites are being blown up for Trump’s border wall, an Arizona congressman and other advocates allege. Paulina Firozi reports: “The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is an internationally recognized biosphere reserve … It includes about 330,000 acres of designated wilderness and is home to ancestral grounds sacred to the Tohono O’odham Nation, one of at least a dozen Native American groups that claim connections to grounds within the monument. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), whose district includes the reservation, said crews this week began blasting through parts of Monument Hill, which includes a burial site for the Tohono O’odham Nation … Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, visited the location ahead of the construction and described the site in a video posted to social media. Monument Hill, where he said explosions are now occurring, is a site where members of the Tohono O’odham Nation have buried members of opposing tribes."

-- Trump used a Philadelphia girl’s story to attack public schools and promote the school-choice movement. But the girl was already studying at one of the city’s most desired charters. Janiyah Davis is a student at a recently opened charter school so popular that it received 6,500 applications for 100 seats. How she landed in the audience during Trump’s State of the Union – and with a scholarship to attend private school financed by Betsy DeVos – remains a bit of a mystery even to her mother, who told the Philadelphia Inquirer that she had no idea Janiyah would be mentioned during the speech. 

-- A gunman wounded two NYPD officers in separate attacks that police believe were attempted assassinations. Katie Mettler reports: “One officer was shot in the neck and chin Saturday night when the suspected gunman fired several rounds into a marked police van and then fled, authorities said. At 7 a.m. Sunday morning, police say, the same man walked into the Bronx precinct headquarters and opened fire again, striking a lieutenant in the arm and surrendering after his 9mm handgun ran out of bullets. The man, who is in police custody but has not been identified, has a ‘lengthy violent criminal history,’ Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference on Sunday. … [Trump] weighed in, using the shootings to admonish [Mayor Bill] de Blasio and [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo, who are both Democrats and critics of the president. ‘I grew up in New York City and, over many years, got to watch how GREAT NYC’s ‘Finest’ are,’ Trump tweeted. ‘Now, because of weak leadership at Governor & Mayor, stand away (water thrown at them) regulations, and lack of support, our wonderful NYC police are under assault. Stop this now!’”

-- A man was arrested in Florida on charges of driving a van into a tent full of Trump supporters. Katie Mettler and Hannah Knowles report: “The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has arrested Gregory William Loel Timm, 27, on two counts of aggravated assault on a person older than 65 and one count each of criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license. No one was hurt in the incident. … As word spread and Republican Party leaders and elected officials weighed in, Trump issued a warning on Twitter. ‘Be careful tough guys who you play with!’ he wrote alongside a statement from GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. She called the incident an ‘unprovoked, senseless’ attack and said ‘these disgusting acts will only make us work harder to win in November.’”

Cruise ships and their passengers are being quarantined and denied entry into ports of call over fears of spreading the coronavirus further. (Video: The Washington Post)


-- The number of people infected and killed by the coronavirus continues to climb worldwide, but the vast majority are still concentrated in the original outbreak zone of Wuhan. Gerry Shih, Alex Horton and Marisa Iati report: “The global death toll from the novel coronavirus reached more than 900 … after previously surpassing the 774 fatalities attributed to the outbreak of the SARS coronavirus in 2002 and 2003. Among the dead was the first American, a 60-year-old woman who died Thursday in Wuhan. … An international team lead by the World Health Organization left for China to conduct an investigation of the coronavirus. … As infections overwhelm the afflicted province, the rest of China might be seeing the effects of strict quarantine measures, Chinese health officials said Sunday. In all parts of China outside Hubei, the daily number of new infections dropped from nearly 900 on Feb. 3 to 509 on Saturday …  [WHO] officials also said they had seen the number of new cases taper in recent days. … The Chinese Ambassador to the United States pushed back Sunday on the suggestion by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that the coronavirus may have come from China’s biological weapons program. Appearing on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday, Ambassador Cui Tiankai acknowledged that much about the virus remains unknown, but he said spreading unsubstantiated theories could cause panic and amplify racial discrimination.”

-- Infections aboard a quarantined cruise ship off the coast of Japan have surged, bringing to 136 the number of people who are known to have been infected on the vessel. There are a total of 3,700 passengers and crew aboard. 

 -- Toilet paper is growing scarce in Hong Kong. So is trust in the government. Shibani Mahtani reports: “With coronavirus fears gripping the city, a rumor of impending shortages circulating on social media had apparently spooked consumers, and pack after pack of toilet paper was flying off the shelves. Shoppers could barely carry the number of rolls they were snatching. By evening, not a single roll was left. The panic stretched through the weekend. No more green tea-scented toilet rolls, no more quilted plush rolls, no more jumbo rolls promising ‘clean comfort’ and an inviting picture of a fat Labrador puppy. Such scenes have played out citywide, documented in videos showcasing the frenzy. … Some are resorting to dramatic and costly measures to procure necessities. … As one Bloomberg columnist put it: The semiautonomous financial hub, once known as a bastion of global trade and capitalism, is now showing signs of a failed state."

-- A Chinese lawyer and journalist whose Wuhan dispatches offered a chilling glimpse inside the coronavirus hot spot has been missing since Thursday, his relatives said. Derek Hawkins reports: “Chen Qiushi slipped into the city of 11 million on Jan. 24, just after a citywide lockdown took effect, and spent days interviewing people about the outbreak and filming what he saw. On Thursday, after several of his reports circulated around the world, Chen stopped responding to calls and messages, setting off an online campaign to track him down. The 34-year-old knew he would be a likely target for law enforcement, so he gave select friends access to his accounts, instructing them to change the passwords if they went more than 12 hours without hearing from him. According to Chen’s friends, authorities told his family over the weekend that he had been forcibly quarantined in an undisclosed location. Xu Xiaodong, a well-known mixed martial artist and friend of Chen’s, said in a YouTube live stream that Qingdao public security officers and state security officers told his parents he had been ‘detained in the name of quarantine.’”

 -- Afghanistan claims the Islamic State was “obliterated.” But fighters who managed to get away could stage a resurgence. Susannah George, Siobhán O’Grady and Sharif Hassan report: “It has now become clear that military operations also scattered many fighters they aimed to defeat: The group’s senior leadership fled further into the Spin Ghar mountains, crossing into Pakistan or pushing north into Konar province’s more rugged terrain. Others simply went into hiding. Afghan officials estimate that hundreds of Islamic State fighters continue to operate across the country, raising the dangerous potential for a resurgence. Interviews with Afghan and U.S. officials and seven self-described Islamic State members now in Afghan custody paint a picture of a group that has a history of persevering despite territorial and leadership losses, thanks in part to a sophisticated recruitment system and the use of extreme violence to control civilian populations."

-- Two U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers were killed and six U.S. troops were wounded after a gunman opened fire in an eastern Afghanistan compound this weekend. Some Afghan officials said the attacker was a member of the Afghan security forces. (Susannah George and Sharif Hassan)

-- The Trump administration is considering suspending humanitarian assistance to Yemen as part of an international response to new restrictions imposed by Iranian-linked Houthi rebels. Missy Ryan and John Hudson report: “That one of Yemen’s biggest donors is considering such a move, which, if implemented, could worsen already dire conditions, underscores the challenge of managing aid operations in areas controlled by a rebel movement that is hostile to the West. A senior State Department official said the United States has not made a final decision but was coordinating with other donor nations and aid organizations on possible responses to a 2 percent ‘tax’ on assistance projects and other new measures in swaths of Yemen administered by the Houthis.”

-- German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s would-be successor is expected to resign today following a rocky year as party leader. Loveday Morris and Luisa Beck report: “Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said she will not run for chancellor in next year’s elections, German news agency DPA reported, citing a party spokesperson. She will step aside as party leader when a successor is found. Kramp-Karrenbauer, also known by her initials AKK, announced the news in a meeting with party officials on Monday morning … A protege of Merkel, AKK beat out party rivals to take over the reins of the conservative Christian Democrats in late 2018. However, she has failed to rally the party behind her and there was widespread speculation that she would be ousted before the annual party conference in November.”  

-- Heavily armed police and soldiers forced their way into El Salvador’s Congress, under the president’s command, demanding the approval of a $109 million loan to better equip themselves. From Reuters: “President Nayib Bukele and a group of soldiers armed with automatic weapons briefly occupied El Salvador’s Congress on Sunday, stepping up a pressure campaign to force lawmakers to back a crime-fighting plan. Watched by soldiers in full battle uniform, Bukele, 38, sat in the seat reserved for the president of Congress and cupped his hands together to pray, he said, for patience with lawmakers, few of whom turned up at the special session. ‘If those shameless people don’t approve the plan of territorial control, we’ll summon you here again (next) Sunday,’ he told supporters in a fiery speech outside, as he left the building.”


Former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson took a shot at Buttigieg, who talks a great deal about creating a culture of belonging:

Michael Bennet and his family took a road trip to the North Country of New Hampshire to meet with voters:

Another scene from the trail:

From a plugged-in political reporter in Nevada:

Amy Klobuchar’s face during a particularly tense moment in last Friday’s debate resonated among some viewers:

Actress Natalie Portman’s Oscar outfit had a special nod to the female directors who weren’t nominated for the award:

The winner of last night’s Oscar for best animated short reminded us all that it all started with a tweet: 

And "Parasite" director Bong Joon-ho apologized to the film academy's engravers for having too many Oscars:


In case you missed it, our video team condensed Friday night's debate into four minutes:

Seven Democrats met in New Hampshire for a debate on Feb. 7 ahead of the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary. (Video: The Washington Post)

“Saturday Night Live” spoofed the debate in its cold open: 

And SNL also had a "local expert" talk about Trump’s acquittal by the Senate: