Both Democrats and Republicans are worried social media platform bans on political ads could hinder them as they try to reach voters ahead of the Georgia Senate runoffs, report CBS News associate producers Sarah Ewall-Wice and Ellee Watson.
Facebook and Google both banned political and social issue ads in the wake of the November election in an attempt to prevent abuse of their platforms, disinformation and confusion about the results.
On Wednesday, Facebook confirmed its post-election ban on these ads will continue amid ongoing vote counting and legal efforts in some states.”Advertisers can expect this to last another month, though there may be an opportunity to resume these ads sooner,” the social network said in a statement.
Facebook’s Rob Leathern addressed Georgia specifically in a tweet Wednesday. “It’s taken years to build the infrastructure that supports the Facebook Ad Library and ensure that political ads are transparent,” he wrote. “We do not have the technical ability in the short term to enable political ads by state or by advertiser, and we are also committed to giving political advertisers equal access to our tools and services.”
Google has also enforced a temporary restriction on ad content that makes reference to the election. It states advertisers can’t run ads on “candidates, the election, or its outcomes” while the policy is in place.
The Georgia runoffs take place January 5, and there are important deadlines ahead of the new year. The deadline to register to vote is December 7 and early voting starts in the state on December 14. Both parties are eager to get voters registered and casting ballots.
“With just 55 days until the runoff elections in Georgia and critically important deadlines coming up for voters, Facebook and Google’s plans to extend their ban on political ads are unacceptable,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Scott Fairchild in a statement. The parties disagree on just about every issue, but not this one.
“Facebook’s temporary pause on ads is a breach of First Amendment rights. The lack of transparency on when ads will resume and the timing of it could not be worse,” Jesse Hunt of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said in a statement. Campaigns gearing up for the runoffs also expressed concerns. Read more on their reactions her.
TRANSITION WATCHPRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN
President- elect Joe Biden announced Wednesday Ron Klain would be White House chief of staff, reports CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson. Klain, who also served as chief of staff to both Mr. Biden when he was vice president and former Vice President Al Gore, is a natural choice.
Klain, 59, served as ebola “czar” for the Obama administration, and has been a frequent critic of President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, Biden said, “Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together.” Klain called the selection the “honor of a lifetime,” and said he looks forward to tackling Mr. Biden’s agenda.
On Veterans Day, President-elect Joe Biden and future First Lady Jill Biden laid a wreath at a Korean War memorial in Philadelphia, Erickson reports. “This Veterans Day, I feel the full weight of the honor and the responsibility that has been entrusted to me by the American people as the next president, and I vow to honor our country’s sacred obligation,” Biden wrote in a statement, “To all of our proud veterans, know that I will be a commander in chief who respects your sacrifice, understands your service, and who will never betray the values you fought so bravely to defend. I will never treat you or your families with anything less than the honor you deserve.”
The president-elect also promised better care for veterans and “culturally competent care” for women and LGBTQ veterans. At the ceremony, a veteran endorsed the future First Family, saying, “If there’s anybody who understands what veterans go through, it’s this family,” a reference to the military service of Mr. Biden’s late son, Beau Biden. At the same time, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris showed her support by making an unannounced stop at a D.C. bakery called Dog Tag Bakery, whose proceeds go to veterans programs. Later on Wednesday, Biden is expected to continue receiving congratulatory calls from foreign leaders, adding to the five previous world leaders he has already spoken with. As a point of comparison, the Center for Presidential Transition notes former President Barack Obama spoke with 44 foreign leaders during his first transition month.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
President Trump emerged from the White House Wednesday for his first formal public appearance since Election Day, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. The president, accompanied by the first lady, marked Veterans Day with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Mr. Trump did not make remarks.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Wednesday the state will conduct a manual hand recount of all ballots cast in the presidential race in the state, amid mounting pressure from fellow Georgia Republicans over unsubstantiated accusations of voting irregularities.
On a call with reporters, Trump campaign officials called the recount a “first step.” Probed on reports that fear of losing Georgia’s Senate majority has fueled the GOP’s embrace of Trump’s unfounded election fraud charges, Congressman Doug Collins told CBS News White House Producer Sara Cook, “I don’t think anybody in their right mind would actually think that we don’t have enough attention being paid on Georgia.” He said of the January contests, “I don’t think motivation, voter turnout is a problem down here in Georgia.” Georgia faces a tight deadline soon, since its 159 counties must certify their election results ahead of November 20, leaving only a small window for the hand recount.
There’s another date looming, too: November 15. Trump campaign staffers are employed until next Sunday, with no indication that their contracts will be extended or renewed to accommodate the campaign’s ongoing legal battles.
CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGEIN THE SENATE
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, campaigning for Senator Kelly Loeffler in Georgia Wednesday, called Georgia “the showdown of all showdowns” and told the crowd to get out and vote for both Loeffler and Senator David Perdue in the state’s pair of runoff races on January 5, reports CBS News associate producer Eleanor Watson.
On Tuesday, CBS News projected Senator Dan Sullivan won reelection in Alaska. The makeup of the Senate is now 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats, with only the Georgia races yet to be determined.
IN THE HOUSE
House Democrats have officially won 218 seats, thereby securing their majority in the House. But their majority will be depleted, as Republicans flipped their 8th Democrat-held seat on Tuesday in California’s 48th district. In Orange County, Republican Michelle Steele defeated incumbent Democrat Harley Rouda by two points. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that Steele’s win marks several records. She will be the first Republican Korean American to serve in Congress, joining Democrat Marilyn Strickland of Washington who was also elected this year. Her win also makes it 26 GOP women headed to the House, breaking the record set in 2005.
Centrist and progressive Democrats have been blaming each other for the party’s underperformance last week. In a joint memo sent by progressive groups titled “What went wrong for Congressional Democrats in 2020,” they outline the importance of maintaining the Democrats’ base of young, black and brown voters. “We cannot let Republican narratives drive our party away from Democrats’ core base of support,” they wrote, in reference to those Democrats who blamed close losses on GOP messaging about socialism or the “defund the police” movement.
They also argued Democrats needed to have a central economic message. “In a country where 60 percent of registered voters and 66% of independents think the country is rigged to benefit the wealthy and the powerful, a narrative that centers corporate power and the ultra wealthy as barriers to progress on the economy is compelling across the political spectrum. Democrats should adopt it,” the memo states.