GOVERNOR COOPER WILL NOT ENDORSE IN PRIMARY: North Carolina’s governor has decided not to endorse anyone in the Democratic presidential primary. Gov. Roy Cooper already voted — on Saturday during early voting for the state primary on March 3, which is also Super Tuesday. “The Governor hasn’t endorsed in past primaries and won’t be endorsing this year either,” his campaign said in a statement. “He encourages all voters to be sure they get to the polls and make their voices heard.” The North Carolina Democratic Party doesn’t endorse in primaries, either, according to the state party spokesperson Robert Howard. “We like our voters to decide who our nominee is, rather than put any thumb on the scale or anything,” Howard told The News & Observer in a phone interview Tuesday. He said the party has not discussed potential endorsements with any of its elected officials or candidates.
PACKED FIELD HAS DEM VOTERS HOLDING OFF ON EARLY VOTING: Through the end of Monday, only 316,023 people had cast ballots at early voting sites statewide, or about 4.5 percent of registered voters. In the 2016 primary, about 10.5 percent of registered voters cast early ballots in a shorter early-voting period. Some Democratic voters said the field of presidential candidates is just too large for them, so they're waiting as long as possible to vote to see if it narrows by next Tuesday. Statistics from the State Board of Elections show early Democratic voters outpacing Republicans, but political strategist Morgan Jackson said many people may be waiting to see who wins the South Carolina primary on Saturday before they make their choice. "The presidential [race] is breaking late. Folks are getting excited late," Jackson said. "They’re watching these debates. They’re seeing what happened in these other states. They’re waiting to decide who they’re going to vote for." He said he expects a lot of Democrats won’t vote till Election Day.
SCAM RALEIGH SERVICE DOG PROVIDER INDICTED FOR FRAUD: The president of a Raleigh company that promised customers service dogs and closed its doors in November now faces fraud charges, Attorney General Josh Stein said Tuesday. Mark Mathis, who created Ry-Con Service Dogs nine years ago, was indicted by a Wake County grand jury on 42 counts of obtaining property by false pretense. More than 50 families had filed complaints with the Attorney General's Office about Ry-Con, saying they paid the company for animals that were never properly trained to work with their special-needs children. Customers paid anywhere from $4,500 to $16,710 for service dogs to help family members with autism and other medical concerns, Stein said. Some of the dogs then got into fights with other dogs or bit people. A Florida woman who paid Ry-Con $9,600 for a service dog to help calm her daughter diagnosed with autism told WRAL News that the dog the family received wasn't fit to be a pet, let alone a service dog.
BERNIE SANDERS ON THE HOT SEAT IN DEM PRES DEBATE: Former New York City Michael Bloomberg brought up reports that Russia was attempting to help Sanders’ campaign. He said that Russians were interested in Sanders’ campaign because a Sanders nomination would give Trump the best shot at re-election. “Hey, Mr. Putin, if I’m president of the United States, trust me, you’re not going to interfere in any more elections,” Sanders responded. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren chose a less direct approach on Sanders; she said she and Sanders have a lot in common with their policy ideas and values, but she would make a better president. Warren said she has experience as someone who “digs into the details to make it happen.” But former Vice President Joe Biden accused Sanders of wanting to launch a primary campaign against former President Barack Obama, which Sanders has denied. Biden said that was not evidence of Sanders being “progressive.” And former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg once again accused Sanders of being a polarizing figure: “If you think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump.” In one heated moment, Sanders even responded to the audience who booed when he claimed even former President Obama acknowledged that Cuba did make progress on some issues like education, a claim fact checker PolitiFact has rated “mostly true.” “Really?” Sanders said quizzically to the audience.
THE ONLY CORONAVIRUS VICTIM TRUMP CARES ABOUT IS THE STOCK MARKET: Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told The Washington Post late Monday that investors should consider “buying these dips” in the stock market amid the coronavirus panic. The message was to take advantage of one-day slumps and “buy low.” After all, the Dow Jones industrial average had just fallen 1,032 points. President Trump tweeted similar guidance thousands of miles away in India. Less than 24 hours later, the Dow Jones industrial average would fall another 879 points, bringing Trump and Kudlow’s investment advice — at least in the short term — under greater scrutiny. At least publicly, Trump has devoted the majority of his public statements to slamming Democrats or complaining about the criminal justice system. But he has not publicly engaged much about the coronavirus, other than to play down what he believes the impact will be on the United States. Privately, Trump has become furious about the stock market’s slide, according to two people familiar with the president’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal details. While he has spent the past two days traveling in India, Trump has watched the stock market’s fall closely and believes extreme warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have spooked investors, the aides said. Some White House officials have been unhappy with how Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has handled the situation, they said.