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President Trump spoke to supporters at the White House on Saturday afternoon, his first public event since being diagnosed with covid-19 a little more than a week ago. The president won’t reveal if he has yet tested negative for the coronavirus that causes the disease, but he has a planned campaign rally on Monday in Florida.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is campaigning Saturday in Erie, Pa., the northwestern corner of the important battleground state. The Obama-Biden ticket in 2012 won Erie County by 16 points, but it flipped in 2016, going to Trump by two points.

With 24 days until the election …
  • The second presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15 was officially canceled, after the Trump campaign refused to participate if it was held virtually. As of now, the Oct. 22 debate is still on.
  • President Trump is publicly pressuring Attorney General William P. Barr to target political adversaries ahead 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.
October 10, 2020 at 5:52 PM EDT
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Biden touts economic revitalization plan in Erie, Pa.: ‘The choice couldn’t be more stark, the stakes couldn’t be higher’

By Amy B Wang

Former vice president Joe Biden on Saturday continued his efforts to win back voters that had previously supported him and Barack Obama, visiting Erie County, a historically Democratic county in Pennsylvania that narrowly swung for President Trump in 2016.

There, Biden delivered a speech focused on the economy and the coronavirus pandemic’s disproportionate impact on working-class people. He accused Trump of only being able to “see the world from Park Avenue,” whereas he said his perspective was “from Scranton,” a contrast Biden has sought to emphasize in recent weeks. He warned the crowd that Trump was seeking to destroy the Affordable Care Act, even as the coronavirus pandemic was increasing the need for access to health-care coverage.

“America deserves a president who understands what people are going through,” said Biden. “You’re facing real challenges right now and the last thing you need is a president who exacerbates them.”

Biden held his event in a parking lot outside of the training facility of the United Association Plumbers Local 27, which he had toured earlier. After he was introduced, Biden did a light jog up to the lectern and, unlike at other recent campaign appearances, removed his disposable surgical mask before speaking to a socially distanced crowd. Behind him was an array of different kinds of pipes.

He spoke of visiting other parts of Pennsylvania — this marked Biden’s 11th trip to the state since early summer — and repeatedly hearing stories of workers who were suffering.

“My heart goes out to everyone struggling in this economic crisis. Simple neglect on the part of this administration,” Biden said. “Eleven million jobs lost since the beginning of this crisis and still have not come back. Temporary layoffs have turned into permanent layoffs. We’re still down 674,000 manufacturing jobs nationwide, since the crisis started, and more than 40,000 manufacturing jobs here in Pennsylvania.”

Biden said he would invest $2 trillion in infrastructure and clean energy in his efforts to revive American manufacturing if elected. He vowed to eliminate Trump’s tax cut for the ultrawealthy but also promised not to raise taxes on anybody making less than $400,000.

Biden warned of Trump’s efforts to encourage “chicanery” at polling places and walked attendees through exact steps for how to fill out and return a mail-in ballot. He closed with a message of unity, saying he would govern “as an American president” and work as hard for those who didn’t support him as those who did, specially thanking former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a Republican who had endorsed him.

“We may not agree on everything, but we agree on this: This is a moment to put country above party,” Biden said.

October 10, 2020 at 5:37 PM EDT
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New Trump ad highlights his coronavirus infection

By Colby Itkowitz

As the Trump campaign seeks to shift the narrative on his handling of the pandemic, it released an ad that compares the president’s personal recovery from the coronavirus to the nation’s economic recovery.

“President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America,” the ad’s narrator says. “Together, we rose to meet the challenge, protecting our seniors, getting them lifesaving drugs in record time, sparing no expense. President Trump tackled the virus head-on, as leaders should.”

The ad cuts to a clip of Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease doctor, from an interview at the end of March, saying about the White House’s response, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more."

Fauci, whose job approval is consistently higher than Trump’s, has in the intervening months since that clip been at odds with the president over his handling of the pandemic, especially the president’s refusal to endorse mask-wearing and social distancing.

The ad ends with the narrator saying: “We’ll get through this together. We’ll live carefully, but not afraid,” over a photo of two women in masks with their foreheads pressed together.

October 10, 2020 at 4:01 PM EDT
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Amy Coney Barrett played a role in Bush v. Gore: Defending GOP mail-in ballots

By Beth Reinhard and Tom Hamburger

Amy Coney Barrett was just three years out of law school, a 28-year-old associate at a boutique Washington law firm, when she was dispatched to Florida to help George W. Bush’s legal team rescue thousands of Republican absentee ballots.

The litigation was a sidebar to the central drama of the 2000 presidential contest, but a loss in the case could have cost Bush the presidency.

At issue were thousands of absentee ballot request forms in Martin County — just north of Palm Beach County, home of the notorious “butterfly ballot” — that had missing voter registration information.

After county officials allowed the GOP to take the forms back and fill in the missing information, a Democratic voter sued, saying ballots cast by those voters should be tossed out. The county canvassing board, the Florida Republican Party and the Bush campaign argued that the votes should still count.

Barrett’s work on the case serves as a reminder of how aggressively the Republican Party has sought to harness mail voting for years, in contrast to President Trump’s relentless attacks on the practice.

October 10, 2020 at 3:42 PM EDT
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Official White House event resembles Trump rally

By Colby Itkowitz

Trump addressed a crowd of several hundred supporters gathered shoulder-to-shoulder on the White House lawn, his tenor on the coronavirus unchanged even after having it, still calling it the “China virus,” claiming it would one day “disappear” and that a vaccine is “coming out very quickly.”

Though billed as an official White House event, it had all the hallmarks of a Trump rally, with attacks on his political opponents, baseless warnings about ballot fraud, claims of high poll numbers and chants of “I love you” from the crowd.

“We got to vote these people into oblivion. Vote them into oblivion, got to get rid of them,” Trump said. “So bad for our country.”

Most of the under 20-minute speech was directed at praising law enforcement. He railed against Democrats as “communists” and attacked them for advocating for police reform. If the left gains power, they’ll launch a nationwide crusade against law enforcement,” he said.

Trump also warned of massive voter fraud with mail-in ballots, although there’s little evidence to support that. He said there were “tremendous problems with ballots,” but that he has “law enforcement watching all those ballots."

October 10, 2020 at 1:48 PM EDT
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At White House event, Trump to tell Black supporters ‘left-wing war on cops’ hurts them most

By Colby Itkowitz

In excerpts of remarks Trump will deliver from a White House balcony this afternoon to a group of Black conservative activists, the president will defend law enforcement and say police are needed to protect Black lives.

“No one is hurt more by the left-wing war on cops than African Americans,” Trump will say. “Last year, in just 4 Democrat-Run cities, over 1,000 African-Americans were murdered as a result of violent crime. And the riots, looting, and arson disproportionately hurt Black and Latino communities.”

The Black Lives Matter protests over the summer focused on racial injustice by police. The Washington Post database of every fatal police shooting has found the rate at which Black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for White Americans.

The White House attendees are part of a group called “Blexit,” which is a campaign to convince African Americans and other minorities to leave the Democratic Party. Although the gathering is an official White House event, and not a campaign one, Trump’s remarks will be highly political, attacking Democrats as the “radical, socialist left.”

Images of the group show them not social distancing or wearing masks. Trump has not yet shared whether he’s tested negative for the coronavirus after coming down with covid-19 a little more than a week ago.

October 10, 2020 at 1:40 PM EDT
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Graham says a Black person can go anywhere in S.C. as long as they are ‘conservative, not liberal’

By Donna Cassata

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who is facing his toughest challenge in his bid for a fourth term, said Friday that a Black person can go anywhere in South Carolina as long as they are “conservative, not liberal.”

Graham made the comments at a candidate forum that replaced a planned debate with his Democratic rival, Jaime Harrison. The debate was canceled after Harrison, a borderline diabetic, called on Graham to get tested for the coronavirus before the two shared a stage. Graham refused, and Harrison, who brought a plexiglass divider to their last debate, declined to be onstage with Graham.

During the forum, the topic was how to address civil unrest in South Carolina.

“If you’re a young African American, an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state, you just need to be conservative, not liberal,” Graham said.

Polls show Graham, who easily won his last race by 17 percentage points, locked in a tight race with Harrison. If Harrison is elected, South Carolina would have two Black senators, the other being Tim Scott, the Senate’s lone Black Republican.

October 10, 2020 at 1:18 PM EDT
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Rod Rosenstein, ex-deputy attorney general, says DOJ ‘will ignore’ Trump’s threats against political foes

By Colby Itkowitz

Former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein predicted that the Justice Department wouldn’t cower to demands from the president to go after his political enemies, saying the agency “will ignore” Trump.

Rosenstein was responding to Trump’s public pressure this week on Attorney General William P. Barr to release findings about the origins of the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Trump and his allies allege that Democrats and other officials sought to tie him to Russia to discredit his candidacy, though evidence for this is scant.

“The Department of Justice will ignore the President’s threats against his political opponents, as it has in the past, because prosecutors who take an oath to support and defend the Constitution must uphold the rule of law,” Rosenstein tweeted.

Rosenstein played the role of hero and villain to Trump during his time as his deputy attorney general. Rosenstein angered Trump when he appointed special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to oversee the Russia investigation after Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director. Yet, when the final Mueller report reached no conclusion on whether Trump should be charged with obstruction of justice based on the evidence, Rosenstein and Barr concluded that Trump had not committed a crime.

Rosenstein resurfaced in the news last week after the New York Times reported that during decision-making over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy — which led to the separation of parents and children — Rosenstein said it was a blanket policy and there weren’t going to be exceptions for families with young children, even infants.

October 10, 2020 at 12:48 PM EDT
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A federal judge in Pennsylvania dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit on slew of voting issues

By Amy Gardner

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign seeking to block the use of drop boxes as receptacles for mail ballots, require ballot signatures to match voter registration records and allow nonresident poll watchers at polling places, ruling that the president’s claims of potential fraud were “speculative.”

In a sharply worded opinion issued Saturday morning, U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan of the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled that the Trump campaign has no standing due to the lack of evidence of actual fraud.

“While Plaintiffs may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove that such fraud is ‘certainly impending,’” Ranjan wrote. “They haven’t met that burden. At most, they have pieced together a sequence of uncertain assumptions.”

The decision reflects a big win for Democrats, who have been seeking to expand mail balloting and provide more options for voters who are anxious about voting in person because of the risk of coronavirus infection. Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania’s secretary of the commonwealth, argued for the use of drop boxes in the suit.

October 10, 2020 at 12:37 PM EDT
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Biden releases new ad featuring Cindy McCain

By Colby Itkowitz

First, Cindy McCain narrated a video at the Democratic National Convention. Then, the widow of a onetime Republican presidential nominee formally endorsed Biden. This week, she campaigned alongside the Democratic nominee, and now McCain has cut a television ad for him.

Cindy McCain, the widow of John McCain, the senator from Arizona, is going all in for Biden in the final stretch of the campaign. Arizona, a state long out of reach for Democrats, is in play this year, and Democrats think they can win it.

In the new ad, “Like John Did,” Cindy McCain reflects on her husband’s close friendship with Biden and says they always put “their friendship and their country” above their policy disagreements.

“Now more than ever, we need a president who will put service before self, a president who will lead with courage and compassion — not ego — respect the sacrifices made by our service members and their families, a president who’ll honor our fallen heroes and a president who will bring out the best in us, not the worst,” Cindy McCain said.

The ad will run statewide in Arizona beginning Saturday, nationally on Fox News on Sunday and during some NFL games later that day, according to the Biden campaign.

October 10, 2020 at 11:44 AM EDT
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Hillary Clinton challenges Biden supporters to donate every time Trump team says ‘lock her up,’ ‘crooked’ and ‘emails’

By Colby Itkowitz

With Trump causing some deja vu with a renewed interested in Hillary Clinton’s emails weeks before the election, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee is trying to flip the president’s focus on her to the Biden campaign’s advantage.

“Hillary Clinton, how does it feel to live rent free in Donald Trump’s head? I wish you the best of luck in your phantom 2020 campaign,” tweeted writer Wajahat Ali.

“It’s going great,” Clinton responded. She then suggested that everyone donate to the Biden campaign “every time they say ‘lock her up’ or ‘crooked’ or ‘emails.' I bet we can fund Biden-Harris straight through to November 3rd.”

Trump resurfaced this week the controversy around Clinton’s emails, which dogged her own campaign for president four years ago. The president claims there are emails in the State Department’s possession that he wants released before the election.

The president’s fixation on Clinton has never waned. He still refers to her as “crooked,” and her name still invokes chants of “lock her up” at Trump rallies.

October 10, 2020 at 11:31 AM EDT
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Cory Booker slams Trump for calling Kamala Harris a ‘monster’

By Colby Itkowitz

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) assailed Trump for calling Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) a “monster” in an interview earlier this week, calling the president’s slur racist and sexist.

“It is beyond appalling that the President saw fit to refer to my sister @KamalaHarris as a ‘monster,' ” Booker said. “These dehumanizing attacks against women of color from our nation’s highest officeholder can never be tolerated. The racism and misogyny directed at Kamala must stop now.”

Trump referred to Harris as a “monster” and “this monster” multiple times during a Thursday morning interview on Fox News, his first since contracting the coronavirus.

Booker is the latest to come to Harris’s defense over the slur, which Trump used to describe the Democratic vice-presidential nominee’s performance at Wednesday night’s debate with Vice President Pence. Trump often denigrates his political foes, but he reserves his most scornful and dehumanizing nicknames for women, particularly women of color.

Biden, asked about Trump’s attack earlier in the week, called the president “childish” and said it’s “obvious he has great difficulty dealing with strong women.”

October 10, 2020 at 11:15 AM EDT
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Chris Christie, who has coronavirus, says he’s home from the hospital

By Colby Itkowitz

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced on Twitter that he’d been discharged from the hospital after contracting the coronavirus and being admitted a week ago as a “precautionary measure."

Christie is 58, but he was considered at-risk due to a history of asthma and being overweight.

Christie, a close ally of Trump, was among those in the president’s orbit who disclosed over the past two weeks that they had contracted the virus. He was at the Rose Garden event to celebrate the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, which Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease doctor, has called a “superspreader event” after at least 11 people who attended contracted the virus. Christie was photographed at the event hugging and chatting closely with people, none of whom were wearing masks or socially distancing.

October 10, 2020 at 10:56 AM EDT
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White House offers $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief bill after Trump walked away from talks

By Jeff Stein, Erica Werner and Josh Dawsey

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a $1.8 trillion-plus offer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday in a renewed search for an economic relief deal, but agreement remained elusive as Pelosi said her terms still weren’t met.

“Of special concern, is the absence of an agreement on a strategic plan to crush the virus,” Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, said on Twitter after Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke for 30 minutes Friday afternoon. “For this and other provisions, we are still awaiting language from the administration as negotiations on the overall funding amount continue.”

The negotiations took place just three days after the president declared talks over. Trump has now reversed himself and is urgently seeking a deal with weeks to go before the election — even though some congressional Republicans appear far less enthusiastic over the prospect of a massive new spending bill.