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Outgoing Tennessee Democrat congressman says party 'facing extinction' in his state, relying on 'blind hope'

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Outgoing Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee sat down for an interview with a local newspaper on Tuesday to give his thoughts on upcoming elections and the future of the Democratic Party in his state.Cooper’s predictions were far from optimistic, as he said that the party is “facing extinction” in Tennessee and claimed that Democrats have no strategy to appeal to rural voters.CORI BUSH WON’T DROP ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’ SLOGAN EVEN THOUGH DEMS FEAR IT’S POISON AT THE POLLS”As usual, Democrats are not alert to future dangers,” Cooper lamented to the Nashville Scene. “The biggest danger we face in an off-year election after we won the White House is the 100-year trend toward the other party. Redistricting is small potatoes compared to that historical trend.”Asked if he believed the Democrats would prove competitive in the long term, Cooper said that he hopes so, but “hope is not a strategy.” Cooper criticized the management of the party in his state, and told the Scene that the Democrats in Tennessee needed a new direction.

(Fox News)”Their strategy is blind hope,” Cooper said. “Many of the folks you’re probably listening to have probably never visited these counties. They’re not kin to these folks. Their best friends don’t live out there. I had the advantage of being born in Nashville but raised in Shelbyville.”Cooper insisted that while he is retiring from office at the end of his term, he does not plan to stop working. He expressed interest in assisting the party if possible, but said he is more focused on his own endeavors.”I always want to be available and helpful, but I plan on getting a job and being a productive citizen. It can’t be handed to you. You’ve got to study it and work at it and be good at it. And then we can put on some finishing touches. There are many people today who want this stuff handed to them, and life doesn’t work like that,” Cooper said. “It’s important to make money. It’s important to be productive. It’s important to pay taxes. Work organizes life. I plan on working until the day I die, because work is fun, work is interesting, work is important.””It’s important to be in communication with your constituents, not to be their boss. You’re their representative. We’ve got to get this formula right. The Democratic Party in Tennessee is basically facing extinction. We’ve been on a long downhill slide for a long time. Tennessee has fewer statewide elected offices than I think any other state, and now the only path upward will be through Memphis, which is not nearly as successful as Nashville. That fits Republican strategy very well. Their intent is to ghettoize the state Democratic Party.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPCooper has clashed repeatedly with more progressive and left-wing Democrats. In fact, some within the party have attempted to remove him from office with a replacement of their own.Odessa Kelly, a progressive candidate backed by Justice Democrats, sought to defeat Cooper in 2020. She boasted endorsements from key Democrats, but had a history of inflammatory social media posts, including calls for violence against Republican lawmakers.Kelly, while staging the primary challenge against Cooper, went on Facebook the day of President Biden’s inauguration and posted a list of suggested agenda items for the new administration’s first 100 days.
Odessa Kelly.
(Reuters) The agenda included standard Democratic wishes for stimulus checks, packing the Supreme Court and student loan forgiveness, as well as jokes about attacking GOP leaders.”Day 9: Allow Pelosi to hire the best pimp that Memphis or Detroit has to offer to Smack tha [emoji] outta Ted Cruz and the rest uv’em…(y’all know the ones)!” she wrote.

Son of Rep. Carlos Gimenez arrested after altercation with Miami commissioner: police

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The son of a member of Congress was arrested Wednesday following an altercation at a Florida restaurant, police said.Carlos J. Gimenez, the son of U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, was taken into custody after police said he slapped Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla at Morton’s Steakhouse located in Coral Gables, the Miami Herald reported.The Miami commissioner released a statement after the alleged incident where he described Gimenez, a lawyer and lobbyist, as “cowardly,” suggesting he was intoxicated and called the alleged slap was “more [of a] flick of the wrist.”REP. CARLOS GIMÉNEZ: HARRIS’ FAILED LEADERSHIP – BORDER CRISIS CAN’T BE LAUGHED OFF”It was more flick of his wrist from behind me when I was having lunch as he cowardly approached me from behind and ran away. This guy is not known as a very courageous guy. Actually, he’s quite a coward and appeared to be under the influence,” he said.
Statement on today:”It was more like a flick of his wrist from behind me when I was having lunch as he cowardly approached me from behind and ran away. This guy is not known as a very courageous guy. Actually he’s quite a coward and appeared to be under the influence.”— Alex Diaz de la Portilla (@alexDLPmiami) February 10, 2022
Gimenez was charged with a single count of simple battery, Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak said during a press conference that evening. REP. CARLOS GIMÉNEZ: CUBA PROTESTS – BIDEN MUST CONDEMN COMMUNIST REGIME, STAND WITH FREEDOM FIGHTERS
Miami Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla speaks at Miami City Hall in 2021.  (David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
(David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)After the alleged incident, the commissioner’s Sergeant-At-Arms held Gimenez until Coral Gables police arrived, the police chief said. There were no details provided on what caused the alleged action, other than the two men had a conversation. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”There was some kind of conversation and a slap,” said Hudak. “The incident was unremarkable. But because of who everybody is, we decided to let you know what’s happening.”
Florida Rep Gimenez on July 12, 2021.

Sarah Palin takes witness stand in libel case vs. New York Times

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NEW YORK — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took the witness stand on Wednesday in her defamation lawsuit against The New York Times, giving the jury a folksy overview of her family life in Alaska and ascent in Republican politics.Palin testified for only about 20 minutes at the end of the day at a civil trial in Manhattan federal court after a Times editor named as a defendant in the suit testified at length.She is to return to court Thursday for a chance to get into the crux of the case — her claim that the newspaper damaged her reputation with an editorial linking her campaign rhetoric to a mass shooting. Closing arguments are set for Friday.SARAH PALIN GETS ASSIST FROM EX-NHL STAR RN DUGUAY AFTER PESTERED AT NYC RESTAURANTPalin, 57, described herself for jurors as a single mother and grandmother who “holds down the fort” for her family in Alaska when not advising candidates about “the good, bad and ugly” of politics. She also recalled the surprise over her emergence as a vice-presidential candidate in 2008, saying, “I don’t think they were prepared for me.”
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 26, 2015.
(Associated Press)In his own testimony, former Times editorial page editor James Bennet characterized the disputed wording involving Palin as a “terrible mistake” on his part. He added: “We are human beings. We do make mistakes.””We are human beings. We do make mistakes.” — James Bennet, former NY Times editorial page editorPalin sued the Times for unspecified damages in 2017, accusing it of damaging her career as a political commentator with the editorial about gun control published after U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was wounded when a man with a history of anti-GOP activity opened fire on a Congressional baseball team practice in Washington.In the editorial, the Times wrote that before the 2011 mass shooting in Arizona that severely wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and killed six others, Palin’s political action committee had contributed to an atmosphere of violence by circulating a map of electoral districts that put Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPIn a correction two days later, The Times said the editorial had “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting” and that it had “incorrectly described” the map.The jury will have to decide whether Bennet acted with “actual malice,” meaning he knew what he wrote was false, or with “reckless disregard” for the truth. A contrite Bennett admitted Wednesday that he botched the edit but intended no harm.”I’ve regretted it pretty much every day since,” he said, adding, “That’s on me. That’s my failure.”Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to his report.

Al Franken says it would be 'tempting' to run for office again

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Former Sen. Al Franken this week said it would be “tempting” to run for office again. The Minnesota Democrat resigned in 2018 amid pressure from his own party after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. “I don’t know,” Franken told the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart in a video interview published Wednesday. “I certainly loved my time in the Senate, I love the job, I got a lot done. I was able to accomplish things I couldn’t accomplish anywhere else, I don’t think, so yeah, it would be tempting to try to do that again.”Franken, who was a writer and cast member on “Saturday Night Live” in the 1970s to the ‘90s, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008. 
Comedian Al Franken performs at Atlanta Symphony Hall on October 09, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by R. Diamond/Getty Images)
(Photo by R. Diamond/Getty Images)AL FRANKEN MOUNTS COMEDY TOUR COMEBACK, TALKS CANCEL CULTURE COMEBACK, TALKS ‘CANCEL CULTURE’ AND THE IMPORTANCE OF DUE PROCESSNine of about three dozen Democratic senators who called for Franken’s resignation later said they regretted their decisions and Franken has said he feels he should have been allowed an ethics investigation. His resignation came at the height of the #MeToo movement. He has said he regrets his decision. 
Then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., leaves the Democratic Senate Policy luncheon in the Capitol on December 12, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)Franken was accused by radio host Leeann Tweeden of kissing her against her will during a USO tour in 2006. A photo also emerged of Franken smiling as he appeared to pretend to touch Tweeden’s breasts while she was sleeping. Several other women also accused him of inappropriate touching. Franken apologized to Tweeden but denies the other allegations. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPThe humorist, who has spent the last few months on a comedy tour, said he’s “only 70.” He noted that Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is 88 and is running for re-election and joked he has plenty of time to make his decision.  Last fall, in another interview Franken said he was “keeping” his options “open.””Right now my focus is on doing this (tour) and doing other stuff that is more politically blatant,” he told Massachusetts newspaper The Republican. Fox News’ Jessica Napoli contributed to this report. 

Democrats scramble to reverse course on COVID restrictions ahead of midterms

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Democrats across the country are scrambling to reverse course on COVID-19 restrictions as this year’s midterm elections loom. With the notable exception of the White House, Democrats at every level are signaling their support for returning to normal as polls show Americans are weary of coronavirus restrictions, which Republican states have largely done away with. According to a recent poll by Monmouth University, 70% of Americans say it’s time for the country to move on from the pandemic, and a decreasing number of Americans support COVID-related mandates. President Biden’s approval ratings on handling COVID, once a strength, are also now underwater, with 43% approving and 53% disapproving, according to the poll.HOUSE DEMOCRATS REELECTION CHAIR CALLS FOR ROLLING BACK COVID RESTRICTIONS TO ‘GIVE PEOPLE THEIR LIVES BACK’Biden has chosen to follow the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which still recommends universal masking indoors and in schools. Blue defianceBut with the midterms ahead, many Democrats who once led the way in issuing lockdown orders and mandates over the course of the pandemic are easing restrictions in their states in defiance of the administration.Numerous blue state governors this week have announced that they are rolling back coronavirus restrictions, and prominent congressional Democrats have also signaled their support for returning to normal. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that her state will end its COVID-19 mandate requiring face coverings in most indoor public settings but will keep it for schools. Illinois announced the same. Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said Wednesday his state will end its indoor vaccine-or-mask requirement this week, followed by the school mask mandate in March. Massachusetts, which is generally considered a blue state but has a centrist Republican governor, will end its school mask mandate at the end of the month. Earlier this week, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware all disclosed plans to join states that have lifted or never had mask requirements for their schools. Swing states firstSwing states like Michigan, Colorado and Pennsylvania were among the first Democrat-led states to loosen COVID-19 restrictions last year. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is up for reelection this year, implemented some of the strictest COVID-19 orders in the country in 2020, including banning travel between two residences and the selling of non-essential goods. She lifted most of her restrictions last summer and has since pushed vaccinations as the best way to slow the spread. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who is also up for reelection, has taken a similar approach and refused to implement any new mandates.Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who is unable to run again this year, leaving his seat up for grabs, said in December, “Local municipalities, as you know, I think ought to be free to do with what they want,” echoing what many Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been vilified for saying for the past two years.Less than a year ago, Biden said the lifting of mask mandates in Republican-led states amounted to “Neanderthal thinking.”
President Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 31, 2022, in Washington.
(Associated Press)The movement to “move on” from the pandemic appears to have sped up in recent days as new coronavirus cases decrease following the omicron variant surge. Also expediting matters: A new Johns Hopkins study saying the lockdowns of 2020 did little to curb the COVID-19 death rate and a new guidance Friday by the CDC saying the popular cloth masks accepted by most mandates are the least effective in preventing the spread.Living with COVIDNew Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who barely eked out a win in the reliably blue Garden State in November, was the first to lift his school mask mandate this week after the new CDC guidance, and Democratic governors in California, Delaware, Oregon, Connecticut and New York quickly followed course. “We are not going to manage COVID to zero,” Murphy said Monday on Twitter. “We have to learn how to live with COVID as we move from a pandemic to an endemic phase of this virus.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is seen in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Oct. 28, 2021.
(Getty Images)”Our statewide indoor mask requirement will expire on 2/15,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is up for reelection this fall, tweeted Monday. “Unvaccinated people will still need to wear masks indoors.””Oregonians have stepped up during the omicron surge — wearing masks, getting vaccinated and boosted and keeping each other safe,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who is unable to run for reelection announced Monday. “Because of your actions, Oregon will lift mask requirements no later than March 31.””We are lifting DE’s statewide mask mandate for indoor public settings at 8am on Friday, Feb 11,” Delaware Gov. John Carney tweeted Monday. “The mask requirement in K-12 public & private schools and child care facilities expires at 11:59pm on Thursday, March 31.””It’s about time to end the statewide school mask mandate and enable each local boards of education to decide what is best for their schools,” Connecticut Gov. Ted Lamont, who is up for reelection, tweeted Wednesday.”At this time, we say that it’s the right decision to lift this mandate for indoor businesses and let counties, cities and businesses to make their own decisions on what they want to do with respect to mask or vaccination requirement,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is running to keep the governor’s seat, said Wednesday, dropping her state’s “mask or vax” mandate for businesses.The Youngkin effectThe shift in Democratic messaging surrounding the pandemic was buoyed in part by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s upset win in Virginia in November. Focus group findings by Third Way, a think tank aligned with Democrats, found that swing voters who voted for Youngkin over Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe were motivated by COVID-19 restrictions and school closures even more so than critical race theory being taught in the classroom, NBC News reported.MSNBC, OTHERS HIT AS ‘HYPOCRITES’ FOR CONTRADICTORY COVERAGE ON YOUNGKIN, MURPHY MASK MANDATE ORDERSHouse Democrats’ reelection arm has picked up on this messaging ahead of the midterms, where Democrats face an uphill battle to hold onto their razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate.”Democrats’ plan to fight COVID is working — cases are down & vaccines are widely available,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, tweeted Wednesday. “Now, it’s time to give people their lives back. With science as our guide, we’re ready to start getting back to normal.” “People are ready to pivot” from the pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday.It’s a stark contrast to what the left was saying just a month ago when Youngkin banned school mask mandates in Virginia.”Kids will die,” CNN political pundit Joe Lockhart tweeted three weeks ago.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPDespite the relaxing of COVID restrictions by multiple Democratic governors, Biden is sticking by the CDC, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki has downplayed any apparent conflict between the governors and his administration. On Wednesday, reporters pressed Psaki on why the administration appears to be one step behind Biden’s fellow Democrats.”Our guidance has consistently been this,” Psaki said. “When you are in a high-transmission area, which is everywhere in the country, you should wear a mask in indoor settings, including schools.”The Associated Press contributed to this story.

‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters cause miles-long traffic jam near US-Canada border in Michigan

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PORT HURON, Mich. – Canadian truckers protesting at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, have caused a miles-long traffic jam at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Michigan, where commercial traffic was rerouted when the Ambassador Bridge was closed to vehicles entering Canada.Truckers billing themselves the “Freedom Convoy” began blocking lanes Monday on the Canadian side of the Ambassador Bridge, which links Detroit to Windsor, causing a traffic jam that eventually led to the bridge closing down traffic to Canada.
Traffic jammed nine miles from the border south of Port Huron, Michigan’s Blue Water Bridge due to trucker protests in Canada.
(Michael Lee)CANADIAN LAWMAKERS GROW INCREASINGLY UNEASY ABOUT ECONOMIC IMPACT OF TRUCKERS PROTESTING VACCINE MANDATEExit ramps from the highway to the bridge in Detroit remained closed for a third day on Wednesday, with commercial traffic being rerouted north to Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge. But the excess traffic trying to cross that bridge has caused a new jam, with traffic backed up nearly nine miles on Interstate 94, leading up to the bridge in Port Huron.The Ambassador Bridge is typically the busiest crossing on the United States-Canada border, carrying more than 8,000 commercial vehicles on weekdays and nearly 3 million per year. The bridge also carries roughly 27% of all trade between Canada and the United States.
Traffic jammed nine miles from the border south of Port Huron, Michigan’s Blue Water Bridge due to trucker protests in Canada.
(Michael Lee)All of that traffic has now begun flowing about 67 miles north to the Blue Water Bridge, which typically only carries just over 2,000 commercial vehicles per day.The bottleneck has caused angst among Canadian authorities, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford calling the protest at the Ambassador Bridge an “illegal occupation” Wednesday.”The Ambassador Bridge is one of the most vital trade corridors in our country,” Ford said in a statement. “The damage this is causing to our economy, to people’s jobs and their livelihoods is totally unacceptable. We cannot let this continue.”The protests have also garnered attention from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the White House, with Trudeau calling the demonstrations “unacceptable” Wednesday.
Traffic jammed nine miles from the border south of Port Huron, Michigan’s Blue Water Bridge due to trucker protests in Canada.
(Michael Lee)”Blockades, illegal demonstrations are unacceptable, and are negatively impacting businesses and manufacturers,” Trudeau said during remarks in the House of Commons. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPWhite House press secretary Jen Psaki expressed concerns that the protests could pose “a risk to supply chains.” The truckers have been demonstrating against Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions since last month, most notably rules that mandate drivers to be vaccinated or face stiff quarantine requirements when entering Canada.They have vowed to stay put until restrictions are lifted, despite the mounting pressure against them.

DHS tracking reports of potential truck convoy in America amid Canada trucker protests

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is aiming to get ahead of a planned demonstration in America, “tracking reports of a potential convoy” amid several Canadian truck protests against COVID mandates.The agency “is tracking reports of a potential convoy that may be planning to travel to several U.S. cities,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News Wednesday.  The department has “not observed specific calls for violence within the United States associated with this convoy, and (is) working closely with our federal, state and local partners to continuously assess the threat environment and keep our communities safe.”
A Homeland Security vehicle late in the day in Lower Manhattan.
(iStock)”DHS will continue to share timely and actionable information with the public,” the spokesperson added.A report by Yahoo News said the agency is warning U.S. law enforcement and public safety officials that a trucker convoy protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates, similar to those taking place in Canada, could begin Feb. 13, the same day Super Bowl LVI is played in Los Angeles.The warning, according to certain senior law enforcement officials and documents obtained by the outlet, revealed that “the convoy could severely disrupt transportation, federal government and law enforcement operations through gridlock and potential counterprotests” as truckers make their way across the United States.
Trucks sit parked on Wellington Street near the Parliament Buildings as truckers and their supporters take part in a convoy to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Jan. 29, 2022.
(REUTERS/Patrick Doyle)CANADIAN TRUCKERS SHUT DOWN BUSIEST BORDER CROSSING IN NORTH AMERICA: LIVE UPDATESDHS has worked for more than a year with law enforcement partners to provide 500 individuals from across the department to support security measures at the Super Bowl, according to a U.S. official.
Protesters walk with bags past trucks parked on downtown streets on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Ottawa, Ontario. Thousands of protesters railing against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions descended on the capital, deliberately blocking traffic around Parliament Hill.
(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)News of a potential American protest comes on the 13th day of the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa, where truck drivers are advocating for an end to the government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has demanded that the protests end.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPOttawa Police have issued more than 1,300 tickets since the beginning of the occupation.Fox News’ Lisa Bennatan contributed to this article.