Poll: A record number of voters dislike Trump personally

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As Democratic candidates compete for the opportunity to take on President Donald Trump, the incumbent they hope to oust is more personally disliked than any of his recent predecessors, and half of voters say they’re very uncomfortable with the idea of his re-election.

But the electorate at large also expresses doubts about some of the progressive policies being backed by candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and the party’s more moderate frontrunner — Joe Biden — also faces questions about his fitness for the job.

Those are the major findings in the latest release from the September NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which also shows that 46 percent of Americans give Trump credit for what they call an improving economy, the highest share of his presidency.

“The Democrats want a referendum on Trump. The GOP wants a comparative choice. And therein lies the rub,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff and his firm Public Opinion Strategies.

Trump approval stable, but a record share dislike him personally

The poll found Trump’s approval rating at 45 percent among registered voters, virtually unchanged from last month and consistent with where former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton stood in public approval at this point in their presidencies.

But it also showed that Trump faces historically poor personal favorability ratings, even among those who approve of the plans he has pursued in office.

A combined 69 percent of registered voters say they don’t like Trump personally, regardless of their feelings about his policy agenda. A record 50 percent say they dislike him personally and dislike his policies, while another 19 percent say that they dislike him but approve of his policies.

Just 29 percent say they like Trump personally, with 25 percent saying they also approve of his policy agenda and 4 percent saying they disapprove.

On this measure, the high degree of personal dislike for Trump differentiates him from his five most recent predecessors. Majorities of voters said they personally liked Obama, Clinton, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, even though they might disagree vigorously with their political agenda.

In fact, prior to Trump’s presidency, the highest share of voters saying they disliked the president personally — regardless of their views on his policies — was 42 percent for George W. Bush in March 2006, after Hurricane Katrina.

Voters also have higher levels of discomfort about Trump’s re-election than about his main Democratic rivals.

Half of voters — 49 percent — say they’re very uncomfortable with his 2020 candidacy. That’s compared to 41 percent who say the same for Sanders and 33 percent apiece who say the same for Biden or Warren.

But Trump also continues to benefit from the upside of the polarization of the electorate around him, commanding more enthusiasm than his Democratic competitors as well. A quarter of voters (26 percent) say they’re enthusiastic about him, while fewer say they’re enthusiastic about Warren (17 percent), Sanders (13 percent) and Biden (12 percent.)

Some progressive proposals divide Democrats and the electorate at large

Voters overall are supportive of many of the policy goals being discussed by 2020 Democratic candidates, but there are notable exceptions surrounding "Medicare-for-All," government health care for undocumented immigrants, and complete student loan forgiveness.

Among Democratic primary voters, 64 percent say they support providing government health care to undocumented immigrants, while just 36 percent of all registered voters agree.

A similar share of Democratic voters — 63 percent — support a single payer "Medicare-for-All" style plan, also backed by Warren and Sanders, that would replace the existing private insurance system. Among voters overall, just 41 percent support that idea.

And six-in-10 Democratic voters also back immediate cancellation and forgiveness of all student debt, a position shared by just 41 percent of all voters. Sanders has unveiled a plan to eliminate all $1.6 trillion in student debt, while Warren has proposed the cancellation of up to $50,000 in student debt per person, based on household income.

More moderate Democratic positions on the issues of health care and student loan forgiveness, however, have the backing of wide majorities of both Democratic voters and the general electorate.

Two-thirds of all voters — 67 percent — and 78 percent of Democrats back an optional program that would allow those under 65 to buy into Medicare just like one can currently buy in to private insurance.

A similar share of all voters — 64 percent — support a plan to forgive student debt for those who have paid 12.5% of their income every year for 15 years.

And 58 percent of all voters support a measure to provide free tuition at state colleges and universities.

While some of the most progressive Democratic proposals lack majority support, the poll also found that two of Trump’s signature plans are similarly unpopular with the voting public.

Just 43 percent of all voters support the construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall. And exactly the same share back the elimination of the Affordable Care Act.

Voters raise concerns about Trump and Biden’s fitness for the presidency

While Biden may be the Democratic Party’s current standard-bearer for more moderate — and popular — policy proposals, a significant share of Americans in the poll say they’re losing confidence in his ability to lead the country.

A third of voters overall — 36 percent — say they’ve lost confidence in Biden in recent weeks, a time period that included a debate performance described as shaky by his critics. Just eight percent say they’ve grown more confident in him.

The same share — 36 percent — say they have become less confident in recent weeks in Trump’s ability to lead, with 17 percent saying they’ve become more confident.

Those who have lost confidence in the former vice president cited his debate performance, his age and what they say is an over-reliance on Obama’s legacy in making his own case for the job.

“Overall, I like Joe Biden a lot, but I think his performance at the debate gave me the feeling that he might be a little bit past his prime for the position,” said one male Democratic respondent from New York.

A white female Democrat from Illinois put it more bluntly.

“Basically he's an old white man who I don't think is going to help our country advance,” she said. “Because our country is not just a bunch of white people anymore.”

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Sept. 13-16. The margin of error for all adults is +/- 3.27 percentage points.

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Billionaire pays $34 million to settle Morehouse student loan debt

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A private equity billionaire who vowed to pay off the student loan debt for nearly 400 spring graduates of Morehouse College has settled up, and the bill was less than he pledged to cover, the institution said Friday.

"Robert F. Smith, the Founder, Chairman & CEO of Vista Equity Partners, and his family have donated $34 million to the new Morehouse College Student Success Program to pay off the loans that students and parents of the Class of 2019 accumulated to fund a Morehouse education," the school said in a statement.

Smith promised in May to pay as much as $40 million to cover the class of 2019's student debt at one of the crown jewels of the nation's historically black colleges and universities.

The grant is a welcome respite from the nation's student loan debt crisis, $1.6 trillion of personal red ink that experts say disproportionately impacts people of color, aspirants from low-income backgrounds and students of for-profit institutions.

"This liberation gift from Robert Smith — the first of its kind to be announced at a graduation in higher education — will be life-changing for our new Morehouse Men and their families," Morehouse president David A. Thomas said in a statement Friday.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of SavingForCollege.com, said, "This gift is well-targeted at the need, since Morehouse College students are forced to borrow an above-average amount of debt."

But advocates of student loan reform hope the extraordinary gift will not take attention away from a student debt crisis that can stifle dreams of advanced degrees and create a drag on the economy. The Brookings Institution said in a report last year that nearly 40 percent of student loan borrowers could default by 2023.

Sandy Baum, senior fellow for the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute, said the gift is a ray of light, but not the kind of long-term solution the crisis demands.

"You don’t want to criticize anyone who gives a lot of money to help those who need it," she said. "It was very generous."

Morehouse says the average graduate carries between $35,000 and $40,000 in student loan debt, more than the average student at historically black colleges and universities, by commencement day.

Baum said the student debt crisis needs a collective, selective response that targets students who most need the help.

"We don’t actually need to forgive debt for those who can afford it," she said. "We need to think about how to carefully design policies that are targeted at people at the bottom, not people who will do quite well in the long run."

Kantrowitz said if all the nation's billionaires made pledges similar to Smith's, it still wouldn't wipe out student debt.

Effective fixes, he said, would be to allow those carrying student debt to declare personal bankruptcy, triple the amount of Pell Grant awards to low-income students and end taxes on private scholarships.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy at Temple University in Philadelphia, said the student debt crisis is in the hands of voters.

"Students need philanthropy, they need policy change, and they need people to show up and vote next fall," she said by email. "If you think college costs too much and student debt is doing harm, then your single most effective action is to vote."

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Hampton University receives donations to cover airfare for Bahamian students displaced by Dorian

Hampton University is continuing to receive donations to support the university’s offer to the University of Bahamas – North campus students who have been displaced by Hurricane Dorian earlier this month to continue their academic studies for one semester.

The university announced that Dr. Jamal H. Bryant, the Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta, has committed to paying for the airfare of all Bahamian students who will attend Hampton University.

In addition to his pledge, the growing list of the monetary donations to help offset the international travel costs for these students now totals about $150,000.

Shortly after the hurricane devastated the Bahamas, the university announced it would offer free enrollment as well as room and board to University of Bahamas students. Hampton University President William Harvey confirmed the details of the agreement, which he said he brokered with University of Bahamas President Rodney Smith, who was formerly the vice president of Hampton University.

Both university presidents have enjoyed a long and successful relationship, and Hampton has been the educational choice for many Bahamian students, the university said.

“The overwhelming show of support for our effort to bring these displaced students to our campus has been nothing short of remarkable. Hampton University is covering their tuition, room, and fees. One of Hampton’s Board members, Zachary Scott has pledged $100,000 to this effort. Now with Pastor Bryant and his congregation’s offer to cover airfare, we are waiting to embrace these young people when they arrive to our ‘Home by the Sea,’” said Dr. William R. Harvey, President of Hampton University.

Hampton University said it has received 90 completed applications from students at the University of the Bahamas – North campus. Those students have been working with Hampton’s Office of Admissions and the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas over the last few days to obtain expedited student visas to allow them entry into the country.

The students are expected to arrive at Hampton University between September 23 and 24.

If you are interested in supporting these students, please contact the Hampton University Office of Development at (757) 727-5002.

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Shaq Talks About The Wild Outfits He Wore Just ‘To Get Attention’

Shaquille O’Neal prides himself on sporting a corporate look these days, but the 7-foot-1-inch basketball star used to wear totally outlandish outfits back in the day ― for good reason. 

“When I had my tux tailor, I used to do a lot of stuff to get attention. So my jackets used to go three inches below my calves. It was a clown look,” he told HuffPost at a JC Penney and Wilhelmina event in August.

O'Neal attending the 15th Annual American Cinematheque Awards honoring Bruce Willis on Sept. 23, 2000 in Beverly Hills. 
O’Neal attending the 15th Annual American Cinematheque Awards honoring Bruce Willis on Sept. 23, 2000 in Beverly Hills. 

“This was before social media, but I still used to go viral. That’s all a form of my marketing. And then when I got older I said, ‘You know what? I did all the little kiddie stuff, it’s corporate time,’” he said of his evolving style. 

But the basketball legend, businessman, DJ and designer said he doesn’t regret any of his wild looks. 

“Because if it was a look that was really off the wall, it was done for marketing purposes only,” the 47-year-old added. “I know how to get people’s attention and I’ve been doing it through the years, it’s through humor. And I don’t mind laughing at myself. I don’t.”

When O’Neal was wearing these wild suits, he said he would routinely spend $3,000 per suit in order to get it tailored to his requirements. 

“For so long, even when I played, I only go to one or two stores to get stuff for me,” he said, of the stores — Rochester and DXL — he used to frequent.

“Or if I didn’t want to go there, I had to go to an expensive tailor,” he added.

Shaquille O'Neal during 1996 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, In
Shaquille O’Neal during 1996 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Once he retired, Shaq said he rethought spending thousands of dollars on a suit, which inspired him to create an affordable line of suits first with Macy’s and now with JC Penney. He also wants others built like him to still be able to find suits that fit properly without spending such a huge chunk of cash.

“We need to realize that the world is very different. Everybody’s not the same size, right?” the former basketball player said. “Brands need to do a better job of creating for everybody. And if they did create for everybody, I guarantee their profits will go up. It’s a movement that needs to happen.” 

In addition to wanting his clothing lines to fit into budgets and offer a wide range of size options, he also wants his big and tall customers to feel like they have a lot of style choices. 

“You remember I’m a big man, but I don’t like dressing like big guys,” he said. “It upsets me when I go into a store and I can’t get my stuff. I want to look like that. I want to wear the shoes.”

“Whatever all the hot little guys are wearing, I would like as well,” Shaq added, mentioning that he thinks sportscaster Bryant Gumbel knows how to dress well, though he knows style is subjective and he leans toward a more corporate look.

“I’m very, very business-minded, so all my suits are business-orientated,” Shaq said, adding that he has to look a certain way because he’s on TV a lot. “A lot of guys wear a lot stuff that I wouldn’t wear, but then again, fashion is subjective. You do whatever you think is hot.”

The only time Shaq doesn’t sport the corporate look is when he performs DJ sets around the world. That’s when suits just won’t do for the basketball star, who goes by DJ Diesel when he performs. 

“I wear jeans and I always wear a tank top,” he said. Whatever suits him. 

DJ Diesel (Shaq) performs during the 2019 Electric Zoo Festival at Randall's Island on Aug. 31 in New York City.
DJ Diesel (Shaq) performs during the 2019 Electric Zoo Festival at Randall’s Island on Aug. 31 in New York City.

Check out more of Shaq’s looks below: 

    • 1996
      Ron Galella via Getty Images
    • 1996
      Jeff Kravitz via Getty Images
    • 1997
      NBC via Getty Images
    • 1997
      SGranitz via Getty Images
    • 1998
      Steve Granitz via Getty Images
    • 1998
      Jeff Kravitz via Getty Images
    • 1999
      David Keeler via Getty Images
  • 2000
    Getty Images via Getty Images
  • 2000
    Steve Granitz via Getty Images
  • 2001
    Vince Bucci via Getty Images
  • 2001
    J. P. Aussenard via Getty Images
  • 2001
    Gregg DeGuire via Getty Images
  • 2002
    KMazur via Getty Images
  • 2002
    Reuters Photographer / Reuters
  • 2002
    Steve Grayson via Getty Images
  • 2004
    Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images
  • 2005
    Michael Caulfield Archive via Getty Images
  • 2005
    Dave Hogan via Getty Images
  • 2007
    Alexander Tamargo via Getty Images
  • 2010
    Andrew H. Walker via Getty Images
  • 1997
    SGranitz via Getty Images
  • 1993
    Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images
  • 1996
    New York Daily News Archive via Getty Images
  • 2015
    Kevin Mazur via Getty Images
  • 2016
    Matthew Eisman via Getty Images
  • 2017
    Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images
  • 2018
    Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images

Tamron Hall Describes The Moment She Was Fired From NBC For Megyn Kelly

Former “Today” show news anchor Tamron Hall debuted her new talk show yesterday. Now she is speaking out for the first time about getting fired by NBC all for Megyn Kelly.

She told USA Today, “I was heartbroken. (Imagine) you’ve been putting in the work, and suddenly your employer says they’re phasing you out. I had some suspicions, because I’m a reporter and I’m pretty intuitive, but no one wants to lose their job. It wasn’t about who I was losing it to – it was like a relationship where you’re putting in 100% and the person who’s putting in less has the nerve to break up with you.”

She also said she does not feel vindicated after Kelly’s show bombed, “I wasn’t going to wait for someone else not to work out when I could be figuring out a way for me to work out – I didn’t want Megyn Kelly to see me lurking in the hallway. I didn’t want to watch as my profile was being shrunk down to nothing when I know that I have a unique perspective and voice in this business that is appreciated by people who watch TV. I’m grateful for that.”

In case you missed it, Hall, 48, was one of the few Black faces in the very white landscape of TV news, was all but fired from “Today” in 2017 to make room for Fox News host Megyn Kelly, whose own show on NBC bombed in the ratings before she was fired over a blackface controversy. During Hall’s NBC tenure, she won a coveted Edward R. Murrow Award as well as an Emmy, prizes every broadcast journalist aspires toward. Still, she was reportedly forced out of her position.

Hall’s new syndicated talk show is expected to reach 50 percent of U.S. TV households through a deal between the program’s producer, Disney, and Hearst Television, Variety reported in December.

“We are excited to once again be in business with our long-term partners and couldn’t be more pleased that Hearst has placed its confidence in Tamron Hall’s return to daytime television,” Jed Cohen, executive vice president and general sales manager, U.S. content sales and distribution, Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, said when the syndication deal was announced.

NBC reportedly suspected that replacing Hall with Kelly was a mistake not long after the network’s executives made the decision to release Hall. Even before Kelly’s debut, they were in “total panic” over the fear that people of color, women and younger audiences will have no interest in watching Kelly’s morning show. She was adept at debating political issues at Fox, which tended to draw a large conservative older white male audience. However, she lacked the right stuff for daytime viewers.

The network ultimately booted Kelly in 2018 from her morning show. The firing was prompted by her panel discussion in which she defended wearing blackface for Halloween.

Whe are looking forward to Tamron Hall slaying daytime.

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