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Biden slams Trump on “abject failure” on Venezuela, as well as Cuba policies

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden slammed President Donald Trump’s “failed” policies on Cuba and Venezuela during an interview with NBC’s local Miami station that aired on Sunday.

“I’d try to reverse the failed Trump policies that inflicted harm on Cubans and their families,” said Biden, adding that Trump “has done nothing to advance democracy and human rights; on the contrary, the crackdown on Cubans by the regime has gotten worse under Trump, not better.”

Biden called Cuban Americans “the best ambassadors for freedom in Cuba” and said he would ease travel restrictions to the island and limits on remittances that Cuban Americans send their families, which were policies tightened by the Trump administration.

Biden said he would return to the Obama-era policy of greater engagement with Cuba during an interview with the CBS Miami station. This time, he said he would pursue a policy of advancing the interests “and empowering the Cuban people to freely determine their own outcome, their own future.”

He emphasized human rights and said the “crackdown on Cubans by the regime has gotten worse under Trump, not better.”

“Like I did as vice president, I’d demand the release of all political prisoners, continue to be an advocate for human rights,” said Biden.

Biden called for the release of one of Cuba’s most prominent dissidents, José Daniel Ferrer, who was jailed for six months, and in April, sentenced to 4 1/2 years under house arrest for assault and kidnapping. Amnesty International has called him a prisoner of conscience.

Ferrer’s arrest was at the center of a dispute between Washington and Havana. Biden said he is “deeply concerned about the unjust determination of how he’s treated—a voice for change in Cuba, by the Cuban government.”

Biden also accused Cuba of contributing to the “political impasse” in Venezuela along with Russia and China. “What is the president doing?” said Biden.

On Venezuela, Biden called Trump’s policy toward the South American country “an abject failure” and said, “Maduro has gotten stronger.”

“Venezuelan people are worse off, living in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. The country’s no closer to a free election, and Trump’s, Trump’s incoherent approach is alienating international partners,” said Biden.

Biden said that as president he would extend Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans. The Trump administration has not granted the designation to Venezuelans, which would give them the ability to live and work legally in the U.S. He said Venezuelan asylum seekers are treated as a burden to the immigration system rather than considering their political pressure to flee.

In the past, Biden has criticized Trump’s comments about being open to meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

“I always say, you lose very little with meetings,” said Trump in the June interview.

Biden did not outline any specific policy towards Venezuela, but in response to questions on Latin America by Americas Quarterly in March, he said the U.S. “should not be in the business of regime change” and “the overriding goal in Venezuela must be to press for a democratic outcome through free and fair elections.”

Florida, with robust Cuban American and Venezuelan populations, is the biggest prize of the battleground states and one Trump must win in order to be reelected. The Trump campaign has touted its hardline policies toward the two countries as part of its strategy to appeal to the state’s voters.

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Five things to watch for

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CLEVELAND — The first debate of the 2020 presidential election is one of President Donald Trump’s last best chances to shake up a race that Democrat Joe Biden is leading.

The polling has so far seemed largely impervious to news events, with Biden’s lead staying consistent through a pandemic, Supreme Court fight and more, and the president is running out of time to change that dynamic with just five weeks left until Election Day.

The debate is expected to draw an audience of up to 100 million, making it a rare political moment in which the public’s attention will be fixed to the same political event for 90 minutes, largely unfiltered by partisan or ideological media outlets.

Here are five things to watch:

1. Clash of styles

Biden and Trump have, in some ways, been preparing for this moment their entire adult lives — just in very different ways.

Biden spent decades in the Senate, with its rules and reverence, while Trump came up in the world of tabloids and reality TV, with its ruthless irreverence. Biden has cleared his schedule to prepare diligently with binders and mock debate sessions with advisers, while Trump is reported to have proudly eschewed traditional debate prep. He and his advisers say he prepares for the event every day on the job as president and in his frequent and often contentious press conferences.

Trump’s untraditional style was what drew many Americans in the first place, and he’s often mocked stiff-shirted politicians by joking at rallies that he could be presidential — if he wanted to.

But Biden’s camp believes voters are growing tired of the Trump show and the former vice president is hoping to model a more stable, experienced and compassionate alternative to Trump, believing the contrast in styles will speak as loudly as anything either candidate says.

2. Senior moments

Either Trump, 74 or Biden, 77, would be the oldest president in American history on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021, and both have accused the other of losing a step.

Trump has made an issue of Biden’s verbal flubs and malaprops, with the president and his allies essentially suggesting that the former vice president is in mental decline and can barely string together a coherent sentence without a teleprompter. A major senior moment from Biden could be devastating.

Biden allies have fired back at Trump by making similar, if less pointed, claims, singling out moments such as his unannounced visit to Walter Reed medical center last year. But Trump has been far more visible than Biden in recent months, holding regular campaign rallies and appearing at the White House nearly every day, while Biden has been holding fewer and more virtual events, so it’s been harder for Democrats to sell the idea that Trump is not physically up to the job.

3. New attack lines?

The president has spent the past few months trying out different narratives against Biden, but nothing has seemed to stick.

He went after Biden’s son, Hunter, and the work he did in Ukraine that Trump insists is corrupt and nepotistic, though fact-checkers have undercut those claims. He made Biden’s mental fitness a centerpiece for a while. Then he accused the former vice president of being a “trojan horse” for far-left radicals.

As racial justice protests broke out in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Trump made law and order the main message of the Republican National Convention. When polling showed that broadside falling flat, Trump accused Biden of being too soft on China.

The Trump campaign released a list of 17 questions Tuesday morning that they say Biden needs to answer during the debate, the first of which was on Hunter Biden.

Campaigns are often most effective when they pick one of attack on an opponent and hammer it incessantly. Will Trump just throw the kitchen sink at Biden? Or will he have something new?

4. Below the belt

Nothing is out of bounds for Trump, especially when his back is against the wall. He brought women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault to a debate with Hillary Clinton days after the release of the Access Hollywood tape that recorded Trump joking about grabbing women’s genitalia.

The president is now behind in the polls and faced another bombshell on the eve of the debate when The New York Times obtained his tax information and reported he paid next to nothing in income tax and owes over $400 million in debt.

For his part, Biden has his own temper — especially when his family is attacked, and Democrats have argued about whether he should show restraint or let his righteous indignation fly. While many Democrats would like to see the latter, it would undercut Biden’s desire to contrast with Trump’s style.

“They asked me would I like to debate this gentleman (Trump), and I said no. I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,'” Biden joked to a crowd of college Democrats two years ago.

5. A referendum or a choice?

Biden wants to make the election a referendum on Trump and his handling of the coronavirus crisis. Trump wants to make the election a choice between him and Biden, which gives him a chance to discredit Biden.

Both camps have been trying to bend the election in either direction for months, but this will be the first time the two men will directly confront each other. Trump will try to downplay the COVID crisis and turn attention to Biden’s record, while Biden will try to brush aside those attacks and keep the focus on the person who has power now.

Who will succeed in setting the terms of the debate?



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EU civil war: Merkel's 'good behaviour' clause sparks fury as £670bn COVID fund delayed

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THE European Union’s huge coronavirus bailout fund could be hit by devastating delays after capitals clashed on plans to make access to the scheme conditional on good behaviour.

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Jacob Soboroff urges voters to ‘pay attention’ as voting rules continue to change

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NBC’s Jacob Soboroff joins TODAY’s Craig Melvin to talk about the role early voting will play in this election. He says it is important to pay attention to the rules of voting in your area because lawsuits across the country are causing shifts that may continue leading up to Election Day.

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