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The Commission on Presidential Debates said there will not be a Thursday meeting between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, after disagreement about the format.
Trump, who first reported testing positive for the coronavirus last Friday, spoke on camera on Fox News about his treatment, after earlier appearing on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. He is planning to resume public event, starting with an outdoor speech at the White House on Saturday and then a Monday-night rally in Florida.
Biden, speaking in Las Vegas, emphasized the need for a landslide Democratic victory to counter any “phony challenges” that Trump might raise in the aftermath of the election.
Biden leads Trump by 11 percentage points nationally, 53 percent to 42 percent, according to an average of national polls since Sept. 16. Biden’s margin is smaller in key states: eight points in Pennsylvania, seven in Wisconsin and Michigan, and three in Arizona and Florida.
Trump says he was tested again for the coronavirus, offers only vague summary of result
Trump said in a television interview broadcast Friday night that he had been retested for the novel coronavirus but offered only a vague summary of the result.
“I have been retested, and I haven’t even found out numbers or anything yet, but I’ve been retested, and I know I’m at either the bottom of the scale or free,” he said during an appearance on Fox News.
Trump said he would “probably” be tested again Saturday.
“Probably tomorrow. They test every couple of days, I guess,” he told Marc Siegel, a physician and Fox News medical contributor whose interview aired on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
While Trump’s physician, Sean Conley, said he expected the president to be able to resume his public engagements as early as Saturday, the White House did not provide evidence Friday that Trump had received a negative test for the coronavirus.
The Fox News exchange was billed as Trump’s first on-camera interview since he was diagnosed last week. Taped earlier Friday, Trump appeared outside the White House while Siegel was in a New York studio.
During the interview, Trump confirmed that he had received lung CT scans during his hospital stay, claiming the results were “amazing.”
He said he had recovered quickly because his illness was detected early, and he gave great credit to doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Asked what he was feeling after he contracted the virus, Trump said, “I didn’t feel very strong. I didn’t feel very vital. I didn’t feel like the president of the U.S. should feel.”
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White House keeps dodging questions about when Trump last tested negative for the coronavirus
Each day for the past week, reporters have asked White House officials the same question: When did President Trump last test negative for the novel coronavirus? Each time, the White House dodged.
Deputy White House press secretary Brian Morgenstern’s appearance on MSNBC on Friday was no different.
“We don’t have that,” Morgenstern said, one of 10 different dodges to variations of the same question that he gave over five minutes. It was the third time he had sidestepped that question over the past four days. At least three other White House officials have dodged the same question for six straight days.
Down in the polls and isolated by illness, Trump retreated to the safe spaces of two Fox networks and Rush Limbaugh’s radio program in a 36-hour burst of media interviews three weeks before Election Day.
The sprawling, somewhat manic phone-in interviews put Trump front and center on the radar of many of his most loyal supporters, via the most conservative-friendly media outlets. It all seemed to be crescendoing toward the suspenseful promise of a grand stunt — an unprecedented on-camera “medical examination” of the president by a Fox News’ medical contributor during Tucker Carlson’s prime-time program Friday night.
A group of lawyers is offering advice to military and National Guard members who worry they may be given unlawful orders if deployed during protests or disputes over next month’s elections.
The Orders Project formed in response to the use of force against protesters this summer in Lafayette Square, two of the founders said in an interview Friday. The legal group anticipates that military personnel might find themselves in the same position this fall and question whether orders are legal.
Unleashing some of his harshest criticism of the president in the last week, Joe Biden blasted Trump on Friday for “his reckless personal conduct” since he tested positive for the coronavirus last Friday. If Trump couldn’t protect himself, how could he be trusted to protect the country? Biden told supporters in Nevada.
Biden, who has held an increasing number of in-person campaign events in recent weeks, gave his remarks at a drive-in rally in the parking lot of a Las Vegas technical school. There, most attendees stayed in their cars, many of which were decked out in Biden-Harris signs. Instead of applauding, drivers honked their car horns to show their enthusiasm.
Biden, who wore a disposable surgical mask and kept it on throughout his half-hour speech, slammed Trump for his irresponsible behavior. The president was hospitalized last weekend but has since released a series of statements and videos attempting to downplay the severity of the disease, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans since February.
“His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis” — here cars interrupted with honks — “and the destabilizing effect it’s having in our government is unconscionable,” Biden said, raising his voice. “He didn’t take the necessary precautions to protect himself or others, and the longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he gets. How can we trust him to protect this country?”
He also criticized Trump and Republicans for their inaction on an additional stimulus package.
“Things are getting worse and worse and worse. As people struggled and suffered, what did they focus on? If this wasn’t so serious, you’d think I was making this up — what they focused on is more tax cuts for the wealthy. Not a joke,” Biden said.
He accused the president of “hiding in the bunker of the White House” and playing golf instead of trying to help Americans.
“One thing’s for sure, Donald Trump shows no urgency to deliver for hard-working Americans like the family I grew up in, like all of you, what they need now desperately,” Biden said.
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Debate commission says Thursday Biden-Trump meeting is off
The Commission on Presidential Debates said the second debate between Biden and Trump, scheduled for this coming Thursday in Miami, has been canceled, citing the fact that both Trump and Biden have announced other plans for that evening.
“It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22,” the commission said in a statement.
The two candidates have agreed to appear in Nashville for a debate on Oct. 22, which will be a stand-up debate and not a town hall meeting, moderated by NBC News’ Kristen Welker. There will not be a debate Oct. 29, an addition requested by the Trump campaign.
On Thursday morning, the commission said the debate would be virtual, and shortly after Trump said he would not participate in a virtual debate. Biden already has a town hall on ABC scheduled for Oct. 15.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., the head of the debate organizing commission, said Thursday that the Oct. 15 debate would occur only if both Biden’s team and the Cleveland Clinic, which is handling safety protocols for the debates, signed off on it.
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Senate debate in S.C. canceled after Lindsey Graham declines to take a coronavirus test
The Friday night debate between Democrat Jaime Harrison and Republican Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, who are competing in a surprisingly tight Senate race in South Carolina, has been canceled because the senator declined to take a coronavirus test ahead of their meetup.
Harrison demanded Thursday night that Graham get tested before the two meet again. When the two candidates were together for their first debate last weekend, Harrison set up a plexiglass barrier to protect himself from Graham, who’d earlier in the week been exposed to senators who tested positive.
Graham attacked Harrison on Twitter, accusing him of using the coronavirus test to get out of the debate. It’s unclear why Graham has refused to take one.
“Mr. Harrison is ducking the debate because the more we know about his radical policies, the less likely he is to win. It’s not about medicine, its politics. His liberal views are a loser in South Carolina — and he knows it!” Graham tweeted, also accusing Harrison of putting himself above others by refusing to debate unless Graham shows he does not have the coronavirus.
Harrison and the debate moderator both agreed to be tested before the debate. The Democrat said he wanted Graham to get one as well for the safety of his family.
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In boost for Rep. Angie Craig, judge rules election in her Minn. district should go forward in November
In welcome news for freshman Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), a federal judge ruled Friday that the election in her district should go forward in November as planned despite the death of a pro-marijuana, third-party candidate.
Judge Wilhelmina Wright granted an injunction weeks after Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) said that the candidates would have to compete in a special election. “The law is clear on what happens next. If a major party nominee dies within 79 days of Election Day, a special election will be held for that office on the second Tuesday of February,” Simon had said.
Adam Weeks, the nominee for the Legal Marijuana Now Party, died last month, with the election involving Craig, Republican nominee Tyler Kistner and Weeks already underway. Craig filed suit arguing that the November election in her district south of the Twin Cities should proceed as scheduled.
“Unfortunately, the process currently in place would deprive Minnesotans of their seat at the table at a time when critical legislation affecting our state will be debated — including bills to rid politics of special interests, ensure quality, affordable health care for every Minnesotan and safeguard our family farmers,” Craig said when she filed her lawsuit.
The congresswoman won the seat in 2018 after losing two years earlier in part because of a left-wing, third-party candidate. Kistner was running a serious race against Craig, but the Democrat is well-funded and the seat was not seen as a top Republican target.
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At least nine people who attended Trump’s Sept. 18 Minnesota rally test positive for covid
More than a week after Trump’s Sept. 30 visit to Minnesota, there still has been no contact between the White House or Trump campaign and state health officials about lists of attendees at Trump’s events.
However, Minnesota Department of Health infectious-disease director Kris Ehresmann told reporters on a conference call Friday that nine people who had attended President Trump’s Sept. 18 rally in Bemidji, Minn., had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. One case involved a person who was known to be infectious at the rally, she said. Two attendees were later hospitalized after testing positive, including one who was in intensive care.
They are still monitoring the president’s Sept. 30 Duluth rally, when Trump and/or his aides may have already been contagious. Trump says he tested positive for the coronavirus the next night.
In recent days, state officials have privately debated if they should be more aggressive in seeking lists of attendees at Trump’s events in the state and how they would handle a possible visit to the state should Trump return to the campaign trail without offering proof of a negative coronavirus test.
Asked to comment Friday on the possibility of the president returning to the campaign trial so soon after being diagnosed, state health commissioner Jan Malcolm pointedly dodged the question of whether that concerns Minnesota health officials and what agency would be in charge if Trump decided to return to the state given his recent positive diagnosis.
“We hope that if the campaigns come back to Minnesota, they do so in a safe way,” Malcolm said.
Trump planning to speak at outdoor White House event Saturday, hold campaign rally Monday
Trump will resume public events this weekend, beginning with an outdoor speech at the White House, an administration official said. The president has also scheduled a campaign rally in Florida on Monday night.
Trump will address a previously scheduled event Saturday afternoon organized by conservative Black activist Candace Owens. Trump will speak to supporters from the balcony as they gather on the South Lawn. White House aides said social distancing and masks will be encouraged but not required.
ABC News first reported the plans and obtained an invitation to the event that described it as “remarks to peaceful protesters for law and order.” Trump began calling his campaign rallies “peaceful protests” as a dig at the racial justice demonstrations over the summer that attracted large crowds.
The gathering will occur exactly two weeks after the Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, which Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease doctor, referred to Friday as a “superspreader event,” after at least 11 people who attended the event tested positive for the coronavirus.
Trump first reported testing positive for the virus early on Oct. 2. Since then, at least 34 people who work at or attended events at the White House have tested positive as well.
The president has not publicly disclosed a negative test for the coronavirus, although his physician, Sean Conley, said Thursday night that he expected Trump to be well enough to resume public engagements by Saturday.
Biden in Nevada: ‘We have to win overwhelmingly’ to counter any ‘phony challenges’ by Trump
Speaking in Las Vegas on Friday, Biden emphasized the need for a landslide Democratic victory to counter any “phony challenges” that Trump might raise in the aftermath of the election. The president who has for years claimed without evidence that massive voter fraud exists, has recently amped up his rhetoric about “A Rigged Election!!!”
“He’s trying to scare us. He tried to continue to convince everybody there are ways they can play with the vote and undermine the vote,” Biden said at a campaign stop in East Las Vegas. “They can’t. If we show up, we win. And look what’s happening in early voting all across America — long lines, long lines. We can’t just win, we have to win overwhelmingly, so he can’t be in a position where he can put the phony challenges that he’s talking about.”
Biden also emphasized to the small crowd of Latino leaders the importance of the Latino vote. He rattled off some sobering recent statistics about the community — 40,000 Latinos dead from the coronavirus pandemic nationwide, 3 million Latinos who have lost their jobs, 1 in 3 Latino businesses that have closed — and blamed the “incompetence” of the Trump administration.
“We have to end this cycle where in good times, you’re being left behind, in bad times, you’re the first in trouble, and as we come out, always the last to come out,” Biden said. “It’s ridiculous that we continue the policies that this administration has moved forward on, and not embrace that and see it as our future. I’m not trying to be solicitous with you. I’m not trying to be nice. You are the future of the country. I mean, you really are.”
After he finished, some in the audience yelled out, “Arriba Tío Jose! Arriba Joe! Sí se puede!” Biden turned his attention to the mariachi band behind him, and joked to a 10-year-old boy who had been performing with a lasso: “I’ve got a couple of people I’d like you to lasso. I’ve got to bring you to Washington.”
Biden is planning to travel to Erie, Pa., on Saturday.
Pompeo says he has Hillary Clinton’s emails and wants to release them before the election
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his agency continues to investigate Hillary Clinton’s emails, a subject of much scrutiny during the 2016 election when she was a candidate, and said he will be releasing them before the 2020 election.
His comments on Fox News come a day after Trump said he was unhappy with Pompeo for allegedly having Clinton emails but not making them public.
“We’ve got the emails, we’re getting them out, we’re going to get all the information out so the American people can see it,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo rehashed the more than five-year-old controversy around Clinton’s private email server and her use of that nongovernment account for official State Department work. A 2016 FBI investigation into her emails found no reason to bring charges against Clinton, describing her conduct as careless but not criminal. The Obama administration State Department released thousands of her emails for public scrutiny.
But Trump and many Republicans remain fixated on 33,000 emails that Clinton deleted from her private account, which she has said were personal in nature. It’s unclear whether those emails are what Trump and Pompeo are referring to when they talk about releasing more Clinton emails or information pertaining to her emails.
Trump is eager for whatever it is to be made public before next month’s election; Pompeo said he is working to make that happen.
“We’re doing it as fast as we can,” Pompeo said. “I certainly, I certainly think there’ll be more to see before the election.”
USPS on-time performance dips again as millions prepare to mail 2020 ballots
Nearly a month after federal courts ordered the U.S. Postal Service to abandon controversial cost-cutting maneuvers that slowed the nation’s mail, on-time delivery rates have dipped again, according to new data released by one of the Senate’s top Democrats.
As millions of voters prepare to vote by mail, the Postal Service gave back five weeks of gains that restored first-class mail-delivery service close to levels predating changes by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. By the beginning of October, the agency delivered 86 percent of first-class mail on time, down from 90.6 percent before the changes took effect in July, and down from nearly 89 percent at the start of September, according to Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission data analyzed by the office of Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), the chamber’s top Democrat in charge of postal oversight.
The assessment comes as the Postal Service attempts to resolve five overlapping federal court orders that blocked implementation of DeJoy’s cost-cutting agenda. The agency is pushing to restore voters’ and election officials’ confidence in the mail system even as tens of millions of Americans have already received — and millions have cast — their ballots. The Postal Service is preparing to deploy extra personnel and transportation and processing resources in expectation of an influx of ballots. It held a background briefing with journalists earlier in the week to describe its plans for election mail.
Officials said the agency had already delivered a record 417 million pieces of election mail — including ballot applications, voter information and 64 million ballots. That compares with 200 million during the entire 2016 election cycle.
Democrat Cal Cunningham struggled to refocus his Senate campaign on policy issues after acknowledging an extramarital relationship last week, using a Friday video meeting with North Carolina activists as his first chance to face local media.
Cunningham, whose race against Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) is considered a key bellwether for the Senate majority, repeatedly ducked questions about his relationship with a California woman, declining to address repeated requests to know whether more affair allegations are coming.
“Let me be very clear, I’m hearing from North Carolinians that are telling me, in no uncertain terms, that they want their Senate candidate talking about the issues, like those that we’re talking about right here, today,” Cunningham said, after a reporter asked “are there more women” and the candidate tried to move the discussion back to the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“People are tired of hearing about personal issues. They want somebody focused on them. They want somebody who is going to be a champion for the things that matter in their lives,” Cunningham said.
Currently an officer in the Army Reserve, Cunningham’s behavior has sparked an investigation related to whether there was an affair, if it occurred with the wife of another Army soldier, under its “good order” requirements for officers to maintain.
Tillis and his GOP allies have run advertisements questioning Cunningham’s judgment, hoping to pull the race back in his direction after several months of drift for the incumbent. Before the scandal, Cunningham had opened up a small lead in polls. Then last Friday the race got turned upside down. First, Tillis announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, likely from his attendance at the White House announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the Supreme Court nominee, shuttering his campaign office and beginning a quarantine.
Then, a few hours later, Cunningham confirmed that illicit text messages between him and the California woman were real. He spent most of this week hunkered down, dealing with continued fallout from the story and taping an apology message that aired Wednesday during a League of Conservation Voters event.
On Friday, Cunningham tried to turn the discussion back to the pandemic, blaming Tillis and Republicans for not advancing another relief package to help with the economic and health crises spawned by the virus.
When he opened the discussion to North Carolina reporters, all six questions he took dealt with the infidelity allegations, deflecting each with a similar answer that voters care about issues.
“I have taken responsibility for the hurt that I’ve caused in my personal life. And I’ve apologized for it, I’ve apologized to the supporters of this campaign,” Cunningham said. “And now this campaign is about much more, much bigger than me.”
Late Friday the National Republican Senatorial Committee decided to go back onto the airwaves with $3.5 million in new ad reservations against Cunningham, according to a GOP official monitoring media buys who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss strategy. It marks the first time the NRSC has been on air in North Carolina since Aug. 30, having allowed other outside GOP groups to carry anti-Cunningham ads. The new funds indicate Republicans intend to go after Cunningham’s vulnerability on the issue.