ELON POLL HAS 94% IN FAVOR OF RAISING MINIMUM WAGE: The Elon poll found that 94% of respondents supported boosting the minimum wage, which has been $7.25 per hour since 2009, though they differed on how much it should be increased. Just 14% believed it should be more than $15 an hour. All the Democratic presidential candidates still standing favor raising the federal minimum wage, and all but one of them wants to double it — to $15 per hour. The holdout? Businessman Tom Steyer, who recently proposed tripling it, to $22 per hour. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposed raising the minimum wage as recently as 2015. Now he’s for it. Their argument for the hike: While the federal minimum wage hasn’t budged, the cost of living — including for necessities like housing and prescription drugs — has skyrocketed, forcing some workers to take on two or three jobs to make ends meet.
AMY KLOBUCHAR BRINGS FOX NEWS TO NC FOR CARY TOWN HALL: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will make her first North Carolina appearance on Thursday with a rally in Raleigh and a town hall meeting in Cary on Fox News. She also will be in Charlotte on Saturday. Klobuchar is the latest of the Democratic presidential candidates to visit the Carolinas in a build-up to Saturday's South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday – when 14 states including North Carolina hold primaries. North Carolina's early voting runs through Saturday, although turnout so far has been much slower so far this year than in previous primary elections. Klobuchar garnered only about 5% of support in a recent WRAL News poll. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders each garnered 22 percent support, while former Vice President Joe Biden was at 20 percent in the exclusive poll, conducted by SurveyUSA. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders kicked off a string of visits with a Wednesday evening appearance at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, the home church of former state NAACP leader Rev. William Barber. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., returns to Raleigh on Sunday.
NC'S CORONAVIRUS PREPARATIONS HIGHLIGHT PATCHY BROADBAND ISSUES: With COVID-19 patients likely being quarantined at home, high-speed internet will become a necessity for people to work and students to complete their schoolwork. Unfortunately, parts of North Carolina are far less prepared to meet that challenge than others. Many rural counties have patchy broadband access at best, and some residents and students have to rely on Wi-Fi at fast food restaurants for internet access. While people can use mobile phones for high-speed access, that requires a smartphone and a generous data package. The gaps in access could also affect health care. CDC officials suggested that telehealth – online doctor visits – could help them diagnose COVID-19 cases quickly, but live video interviews also require high-speed internet. "If public health measures are necessary, we know online access would be more important than ever," said Scott Mooneyham, spokesman for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, which has been pushing to expand broadband access statewide. "It really does highlight what we’ve been saying – this is not a luxury. Broadband access is critical infrastructure, and everyone needs access."
TRUMP'S CORONAVIRUS COMMENTS ARE CLASSIC TRUMP: From the start of the news conference, Trump repeatedly sought to pat himself and his administration on the back, even as the scope and severity of the viral outbreak worldwide and in the United States is still coming into focus. “We really think we’ve done a great job in keeping it down to a minimum,” Trump said. “And again, we’ve had tremendous success — tremendous success, beyond what people would have thought.” He added at another point: “We’re doing great. Other countries have not been doing great." And: “So far, we’ve done a great job.” When he was asked why the stock market has plunged 2,000 points in recent days, Trump acknowledged part of the reason was coronavirus fears. But he also blamed the Federal Reserve, Boeing, General Motors, and he said he thought the markets were suddenly worried about one of his potential 2020 Democratic opponents beating him for reelection — despite that campaign having been going for more than a year. He added: “I think after I win the reelection, the stock market’s going to boom like it’s never boomed — just like it did, by the way, after I won the last election." Trump was even asked about supporters like Rush Limbaugh advancing the idea that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was exaggerating the potential impact of the new coronavirus to hurt him and that Trump’s opponents had weaponized the estimates against him. “I agree with it,” Trump said. “And I’d like it to stop.”
ANTI-MUSLIM VIOLENCE WENT UNCHECKED IN NEW DELHI AS POLICE WERE SHIFTED TO COVER TRUMP MOTORCADE: “The whole city knew that riots were impending,’’ said Harsh Mander, a human-rights activist who is pressing the courts to investigate the ringleaders. “Why didn’t the police act?” Alok Kumar, a senior police commander, said he was not aware that Mr. Trump’s visit had affected the deployment. But another officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisal, said that there had been a shortage of officers because so many had been stationed in the other part of the city to provide security for Mr. Trump. It was only after Mr. Trump left, on Tuesday night, that forces were shifted, he said. The violence, which has stunned India and monopolized the newspapers’ front pages, is proving to become another crisis for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Protests erupted in December across the country after Mr. Modi’s government, which has roots in a Hindu-nationalist worldview, passed a new citizenship law that makes it easier for most migrants to become full-fledged Indian citizens unless they are Muslim. Many Muslim residents accuse New Delhi’s police force of siding with Hindu mobs and standing aside while they were attacked. For years now, most of India’s Muslims have distrusted Mr. Modi, seeing him, his Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., and state security services as biased against them.