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Trump Says He’s ‘Not a Fan’ of Meghan Markle: Campaign Update

U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Photographer: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

President Donald Trump said he was “not a fan” of Meghan Markle. Florida’s attorney general asked the FBI to investigate former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to help felons meet voting requirements. And Trump’s son Eric falsely accused Democratic nominee Joe Biden of using a Teleprompter during an interview.

There are 41 days until the election.

Other Developments:

• Eric Trump Ordered to Sit for N.Y. Deposition Before Nov. 3

• White House Interfered in Bolton Book Review, Official Says

• Trump Supreme Court Nominee May Start Senate Hearing Oct. 12

• GOP Tries to Rekindle Hunter Biden Dispute With Few Findings

Trump Says He’s ‘Not a Fan’ of Meghan Markle

Trump said he was “not a fan” of Meghan Markle and wished Prince Harry “a lot of luck” with his wife after the couple released a video urging Americans to “reject hate speech” and vote in the November election.

“I’m not a fan of hers,” Trump said at a White House news conference on Wednesday evening after a reporter asked Trump about the video.

“And I would say this -- and she probably has heard that -- but I wish a lot of luck to Harry,” Trump continued. “Because he’s going need it.”

In a video for Time magazine, the duke and duchess of Sussex urged Americans to “reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity.” Markle says that “we all know what’s at stake” in the upcoming election.

The comment was seen as veiled criticism of the president, after Markle said during the 2016 campaign that she found Trump “misogynistic” and that she planned to move to Canada if he won election. In 2019, Trump called Markle “nasty” when asked about her threat to move to Canada. -- Justin Sink

Florida Seeks Probe of Bloomberg Aid to Felons (7:10 p.m.)

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sent a letter to the FBI Wednesday asking it to investigate Bloomberg’s effort to help felons in the state meet voting requirements.

Bloomberg, who supports Biden, has raised $16 million to help the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition pay outstanding court fines, restitution and other costs owed by felons. The Florida Legislature only allows ex-felons to vote if they have paid off all such debts, and many can’t afford to do so. Bloomberg is focusing on Florida for Biden, and will also spend $100 million to help the Democratic nominee’s attempt to secure the state’s 29 electoral votes.

Moody said in a letter to the FBI that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had asked her to review Bloomberg’s effort, and said that it could violate a Florida statute that prohibits compensating someone to vote, directly or indirectly. Moody and DeSantis are both Republicans.

“This transparent political ploy is the latest example of Republicans attempting to keep Floridians disenfranchised,” said Jason Schechter, a Bloomberg spokesperson.

Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. -- Jonathan Levin and Mark Niquette.

Eric Trump Falsely Accuses Biden of Using Teleprompter (5:01 p.m.)

Eric Trump, the president son, posted a video early Wednesday that falsely claimed Biden was reading off a Teleprompter during an interview on Telemundo, the Spanish language television network.

The younger Trump tweeted the video with the caption “Unreal!”

In the video clip, Biden is discussing his plan to freeze deportations during his first 100 days in office. During a question-and answer session, Biden says “OK, I lost that line.” He was referring to a television screen that had been showing videos of Telemundo viewers asking questions and that suddenly went black.

The Telemundo host conducting the interview, Jose Diaz-Balart, told Politico that Biden was simply answering questions from viewers. “He was asked to answer questions from Telemundo viewers” who appeared on a monitor, Diaz-Balart said. “In one moment, the monitor went to black.”

Biden said, “I lost the lady,” according to Diaz-Balart. “I told him he could answer looking at me and that was that.”

The president has repeatedly assailed Biden for using a Teleprompter in a bid to make the 77-year-old Democrat look doddering. At a campaign rally this month in Wisconsin, Trump mocked Biden for using a Teleprompter even as his own was clearly visible to the audience. -- William Turton

Fauci Makes Cover of Time Magazine (3:28 p.m.)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has risen to national prominence by dispensing advice about the coronavirus that frequently contradicts Trump’s statements, is on the cover of Time magazine, a prime piece of media real estate that the president has frequently held up as a pinnacle of recognition.

As part of its 100 Most Influential People issue, Time highlighted the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases with a short piece written by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

“We are all fortunate to have a man of his wisdom, experience and integrity to help us navigate these difficult waters,” Kimmel writes.

Trump is also in the issue, with a brief piece that notes he downplayed the pandemic. But the president is known to obsess over the magazine’s cover, which could strain relations with Fauci.

Trump, whose golf club once displayed a fake Time cover of himself, reportedly disliked a cover featuring adviser Steve Bannon and groused when climate activist Greta Thunberg was named person of the year. Trump, who has been on Time’s cover more than 30 times, has repeatedly, and falsely, claimed that he’s occupied the spot more than anyone else.

Head of Pennsylvania GOP Says Legislature Might Decide the Winner (1:14 p.m.)

The head of the Pennsylvania Republican Party suggested that the state’s voters may not end up picking the state’s choice for president in November after all.

In an article in the Atlantic published Wednesday, Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas says that if there are “significant flaws” with the election, then the state’s Republican-controlled legislature might just decide the election on its own, adding that he’s discussed the idea with the Trump campaign.

“I’ve mentioned it to them, and I hope they’re thinking about it too,” he said.

Under the Constitution, a state legislature can choose to appoint its own slate of electors to the Electoral College. If that happened in a state where the winner would decide the national election, it would likely trigger a constitutional crisis as Congress would be forced to choose which results to accept.

In the article, Tabas said that while he prefers a “swift and accurate count,” an intervention by the legislature would be preferable to the public losing “faith and confidence” in the election’s integrity due to questions about ballot counting.

Republican lawmakers in Florida considered appointing their own electors during the contentious recount in 2000, but the effort was cut short by the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore.

Biden Says Trump Court Pick Would Hurt Women (11:38 a.m.)

With Trump likely to nominate a woman to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, Biden is focusing on how the potential justice’s decisions would hurt women.

Speaking to reporters at an airport tarmac in Wilmington, Biden focused on how a 6-3 conservative majority could affect women’s rights, especially on health care.

“If they vote for these nominees, what’s going to happen is women’s rights, as it relates to everything from medical health care, is going to be gone,” he said.

Biden focused on the Affordable Care Act, which the court will address right after the election in a challenge led by Republicans.

“Women will be able to be charged more than men for the same procedures again. Pregnancy will be a pre-existing condition again,” he said. “We’ve got to go to the American people and make the case why this is a gigantic mistake and abuse of power.”

Trump has said he is likely to nominate a woman to fill Ginsburg’s seat, which is expected to happen Saturday. Biden is leading among women nationally over Trump and a conservative pick -- even a conservative woman -- may not change that in Trump’s favor. At least that’s what Biden’s banking on. -- Jennifer Epstein

Trump’s Latest Political Football: Big 10 Games (10:33 a.m.)

The Trump campaign is looking to turn around its polling in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan by highlighting his push to restart college football.

In Facebook ads targeting the three states, the campaign argues that Trump’s “STRONG leadership” led the Big 10 conference to decide to hold fall games after all as a generic heavy rock riff plays.

“I’m the football guy,” Trump is shown saying in an interview. “I’m the one that wants to have football.”

Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro, chairman of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, told ESPN that the league’s decision was made after the unanimous recommendation of medical experts, and “wasn’t about political pressure,” money, lawsuits or other football conferences’ decisions.

The Big 10 includes several battleground state colleges: the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Wisconsin, as well as colleges in the potential second-tier battlegrounds of Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio.

Economy Voters Back Trump in Arizona, Florida (9:19 a.m.)

In Arizona and Florida, a new poll indicates the race isn’t between Trump and Biden, it’s between the economy and the pandemic.

In an ABC News/Washington Post survey released Wednesday, more than 80% of voters who think the economy is the top issue back Trump, while a similar percentage who are most concerned about the coronavirus favor Biden.

Trump maintained his edge on handling the economy in both states, with voters trusting him over Biden on the issue by 11 percentage points in Florida and 15 points in Arizona.

And while voters are slightly more likely to trust Biden on the pandemic, health care, discouraging violence at political protests and racial equality, the economic argument appears to be keeping Trump competitive. A majority of voters in both states give the president high marks on his handling the economy, several points more than approve of him overall.

The survey of 613 likely voters in Florida and 579 likely voters in Arizona was conducted Sept. 15-20. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus four percentage points.

Extended Mail-In Deadlines May Boost Biden (7:47 a.m.)

You may have to wait a little longer to find out who won the Nov. 3 election, likely helping Biden while also potentially giving Trump more opportunities to falsely claim the election is being stolen.

In recent days, judges in Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have ruled that ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 must be counted as long as they are received within a few days.

The new deadlines range from Nov. 6 in Georgia and Pennsylvania to Nov. 17 in Michigan.

The decisions likely boost Biden, whose supporters are far more likely than Trump’s to cast a mail-in ballot this year. Past elections also have shown a phenomenon known as the “blue shift,” in which late-arriving ballots tended to be more Democratic.

But Trump has repeatedly argued that the winner should be called on election night, falsely claiming that late-arriving ballots that don’t favor him are evidence of widespread fraud and a “rigged election.”

The decisions could still be appealed, although judges tend to avoid changing the rules the closer a lawsuit comes to an election.

Trump Tied With Biden in Three States He Won in 2016 (7:26 a.m.)

Trump is tied with Biden in three states he won in 2016: Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina.

In a Des Moines Register poll in Iowa, a Reuters/Ipsos poll in North Carolina and a University of Georgia poll in Georgia, the two candidates each received 47% support from likely voters.

In 2016, Trump won Iowa by nine points, Georgia by five points and North Carolina by nearly four points.

Iowa and Georgia also aren’t supposed to be battlegrounds. Both campaigns long expected the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, along with the Sun Belt states of Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, to be the most competitive.

While subject to debate, a long-standing axiom holds that late-deciding voters tend to choose a challenger over an incumbent. In other words, a tie likely goes to Biden.

Biden Ad Aims to Scare Anxious Democrats Into Action

Biden may be ahead in the polls, but he wants to make sure his supporters are scared enough about the prospect he might lose that they’ll brave a pandemic and vote.

In a new ad on Facebook, TV anchors can be heard interviewing pollsters and pundits about Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls, as images of empty classrooms, health care workers fighting the coronavirus and children wearing face masks are shown.

In one clip from September 2016, former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe can be heard saying that he thinks Clinton has a “100% chance” of winning the election.

Biden is currently ahead in the Real Clear Politics average of state polls in the presidential battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and narrowly ahead in North Carolina.

But his Facebook ads have sought to portray the race as tighter than it appears, in part to keep small-dollar donations coming in and to keep Democrats motivated to turn out and vote despite any potential impediments due to the pandemic.

Trump Uses the ‘Lid’ Against Biden

Returning to a favorite criticism of his opponents, Trump argued during a rally Tuesday that Biden isn’t working as hard as he is.

Speaking to supporters in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, Trump pointed out that Biden had called a “lid,” a decades-old term in Washington politics that means that the candidate or elected official won’t have any more major news for the day.

“You know where he is today?“ he asked the crowd. “He put out a lid today early in the morning. Lid means he is not going to be anywhere today. I’m working my ass off, I’m in Ohio, I’m in Texas, I’m in Florida, I’m in Michigan, I’m in Wisconsin.”

The Biden campaign called a lid at 9:23 a.m. Tuesday as well as on several other mornings this month, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s taking the day off.

Although campaign staff won’t confirm exactly what he’s doing and when, Biden often has calls with donors, virtual fundraisers and preparation for the first debate with Trump, which is less than a week away. For his part, Trump has said he is not prepping for the debate.

Trump has long sought to portray his opponents as lacking in stamina, from saying Jeb Bush had “low energy” to arguing Clinton didn’t have “the stamina” to be president to calling Biden “Sleepy Joe.”

Coming Up:

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The first presidential debate will be held on Sept. 29 in Cleveland. The moderator will be Chris Wallace of Fox News.

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