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President Trump on Monday returned to the campaign trail for the first time since his coronavirus diagnosis, staging a rally in Florida. Democratic nominee Joe Biden was in Ohio, another battleground state, as he kicked off a week of events in several states that Trump captured in 2016 but that Democrats argue they can win this year.
Trump’s doctor, Sean Conley, said in a memo released by the White House that the president had tested negative for the virus “on consecutive days,” using the Abbott rapid testing machine, and was no longer contagious.
Barrett’s confirmation hearings this week offer Trump and Senate Republicans one of their final chances before the election to shift the fall agenda away from the pandemic and toward an issue they believe is more politically beneficial.
Biden leads Trump by 12 percentage points nationally, 54 percent to 42 percent, according to an average of national polls since Oct. 1. Biden’s margin is smaller in key states: eight points in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, seven in Michigan, and three in Arizona and Florida.
White House doctor says Trump tested negative for coronavirus ‘on consecutive days’
Sean P. Conley, Trump’s doctor, said Monday that the president recently tested negative for the coronavirus on “consecutive days,” although he did not specify which days.
Conley added that the negative tests were one of several factors contributing to the conclusion by Trump’s medical team that the president “is not infectious to others.”
“In response to your inquiry regarding the President’s most recent COVID-19 tests, I can share with you that he has tested NEGATIVE, on consecutive days, using the Abbott BinaxNOW antigen card,” Conley said in a letter shared on Twitter by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
“It is important to note that this test was not used in isolation for the determination of the President’s current negative status,” Conley said.
The Abbott Laboratories test produces quick results but has a greater chance of a false negative than the more reliable polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test.
McEnany’s release of the letter came as Trump headed to Florida for his first campaign rally post-diagnosis.
“It’s a bit frustrating to see the health information about the progress of the President’s COVID19 illness come out in drips and drabs, or with opaqueness around his testing and current status,” Peter Hotez, a professor of molecular virology and microbiology at the Baylor College of Medicine, said in an email.
“Presidential medicine can be problematic because it often has to thread the needle between what the American people need to know and patient protected information,” Hotez added. But, he said, “the President is out and about in public on the campaign trail. It would be helpful to know if the President is asymptomatic for COVID19, and if after 10 days he now has 2 negative PCR tests spaced 24 hours apart.”
Hotez said that “in some hospital-based studies severely ill patients shed virus for a median of 0-20 days,” according to the World Health Organization.
As Trump boarded Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Monday afternoon, he was not wearing a mask. Footage of the crowd awaiting Trump at the rally site in Sanford, Fla., showed many of his supporters not wearing masks, either.
The White House has not released any information on the timing of Trump’s last negative coronavirus test before he tested positive.
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Trump holds first rally since being hospitalized amid criticism he is still not taking pandemic seriously
President Trump returned to the campaign trail Monday, holding his first rally since being hospitalized earlier this month as part of an intense effort to demonstrate that his bout with covid-19 is behind him and that he is the more vigorous of the two septuagenarian candidates vying for the presidency.
Yet Trump’s rally in Sanford, Fla., came amid concerns that his plans to barnstorm the country could put himself and others at risk.
Ahead of Trump’s departure for Florida on Monday afternoon, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, criticized the president’s decision to resume holding large-scale campaign rallies without mandatory social distancing or the use of masks.
“As a public health matter, how worried are you about these rallies that the president is kicking off?” host Jake Tapper asked Fauci during an interview on CNN.
“Put aside all of the issues of what political implications a rally has, and just put that aside and look at it purely in the context of public health,” Fauci replied. “We know that that is asking for trouble, when you do that. We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings when there are a lot of people without masks; the data speak for themselves. It happens.”
Fauci added that now is an even “worse time to do that, because when you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome. A number of states right now are having increase in test positivity.”
“If there’s anything we should be doing, we should be doubling down in implementing the public health measures that we’ve been talking about for so long,” he said.
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Biden says Trump campaign ‘deliberately lied’ by quoting Fauci out of context in TV ad
At a campaign event in Cincinnati Monday evening, Biden criticized Trump for running a TV ad that quotes infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci out of context and without his permission.
Biden noted that Fauci referred to Trump’s Rose Garden event celebrating Barrett’s nomination “as a ‘superspreader event,’ publicly criticizing him.”
“And how, how is the president responding? He’s running a national ad, here in Cincinnati and all across the country, quoting Dr. Fauci out of context,” Biden continued. He noted that Fauci was speaking about public health officials in the interview used in the ad.
“But Trump and his campaign, who are very much used to deception and not telling the truth, deliberately lied by putting Fauci in his ad, implying that Fauci was talking about Trump, saying he doesn’t know how anybody could do any better,” Biden said, adding that even after Fauci publicly called on the campaign to take down the ad, “they continue to lie.”
“They use the ad knowing it’s a lie,” Biden said.
Around the time Biden was speaking, his campaign released a video on Twitter splicing together footage of Trump speaking at various rallies and other events.
“I am failing at managing the coronavirus outbreak, so I used Dr. Fauci in an ad to say I’m doing a good job,” the video appears to show Trump saying. “But it’s fake.”
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Biden’s campaign announces 7th negative test since Oct. 2
Biden tested negative for the coronavirus again Monday, according to his campaign.
“Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” the campaign said in a statement.
The test marked the seventh known time since Oct. 2 that Biden has taken a test and it has been negative. That day, Trump revealed he had tested positive for the virus, just three days after he and Biden met for their first debate.
The day after Trump revealed his diagnosis, Biden’s campaign said it would release the results of the tests the former vice president took moving forward.
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Fauci says Trump campaign should take down ad that quotes him without permission and out of context
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Monday publicly urged the Trump campaign to take down a TV ad that uses his words out of context and without permission, emphasizing that he does not wish to get involved in politics.
The Trump campaign ad, released Saturday, includes a clip of Fauci speaking during an interview with conservative Fox News host Mark Levin in late March. In the interview, Levin asked Fauci about the administration’s coordinated coronavirus response.
In his answer, Fauci noted that he is “one of many people on a team” and spoke at length about the long hours that he and others in the administration have been putting in to fight the pandemic. “There’s a whole group of us that are doing that,” Fauci said. “It’s every single day. So I can’t imagine that under any circumstances, that anybody could be doing more.”
Even though Fauci did not mention Trump in his answer, the Trump campaign clip is edited to make it appear as if the nation’s top infectious-disease expert is praising the president’s leadership during the crisis.
Fauci said in a statement to CNN on Sunday that “the comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context.” During Monday’s interview, host Jake Tapper asked Fauci whether he thinks the Trump campaign should take down the ad.
“You know, I think so, Jake,” Fauci replied. “I think it’s really unfortunate, really disappointing that they did that. It’s so clear that I’m not a political person. And I have never — either directly or indirectly — endorsed a political candidate. And to take a completely out-of-context statement and put it in [what] is obviously a political campaign ad, I thought, was really very disappointing.”
Tapper then asked Fauci what he would do if the Trump campaign released another ad featuring him.
“You know, that would be terrible,” Fauci said. “I mean, that would be outrageous if they do that. In fact, that might actually come back to backfire on them. I hope they don’t do that, because that would be kind of playing a game that we don’t want to play. So, I hope they reconsider that — if, in fact, they are indeed considering doing that.”
A Trump campaign spokeswoman did not reply when asked whether the campaign plans to take down the ad. But in a statement, campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh defended the use of the Fauci clip.
“These are Dr. Fauci’s own words,” Murtaugh said. “The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump Administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth.”
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Long lines mark the first day of early voting in Georgia as voters flock to the polls
Voters waited in line for up to five hours across the Atlanta metro region and surrounding suburbs on Monday to cast their ballots, with many locations in the state’s most populous counties reporting high turnout on the state’s first day of early voting for the general election.
Long lines of socially distanced voters snaked around early voting locations hours before polling places opened. Some people brought their own chairs as they waited, as the line inched slowly due to the limited number of people allowed inside the voting centers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The images were reminiscent of Georgia’s problem-plagued June primary, when people waited for hours to cast their ballots because of reduced polling locations and a rocky rollout of new machines. On Monday, high turnout appeared to be largely driving the long lines, rather than technical problems.
Biden on Monday accused Trump of acting recklessly since being diagnosed with the coronavirus, as he renewed his attacks of the president’s handling of the pandemic.
“His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis has been unconscionable,” Biden said at a campaign stop in Toledo. “The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he seems to get."
The comments were some of Biden’s most direct attacks on the president’s behavior since Trump revealed that he had tested positive for the virus, which have escalated since Trump was discharged from the hospital. Trump is planning to return to the campaign trail Monday for the first time since his diagnosis.
Biden lambasted Trump’s broader handling of the pandemic and cited comments to CBS News from infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci calling the White House ceremony where Trump introduced his nominee for the Supreme Court a “superspreader event.”
Biden was tested Monday for the coronavirus and his test was negative, his campaign said.
Biden spoke outside an autoworkers union hall. The parking lot was filled with about 30 socially distanced vehicles with supporters inside them. They honked their horns to show their support as Biden spoke.
At times during his remarks, pro-Trump demonstrators who gathered down the street could be faintly heard yelling “four more years."
Biden briefly referenced the Supreme Court showdown, as Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, introduced herself to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Why do Republicans have time to hold a hearing on the Supreme Court providing — instead of providing a significant economic need for localities? I’ll tell you why. It’s about finally getting his wish to wipe out the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said.
His words were part of a broader Democratic argument that Republicans are seeking to tilt the court to the right to do away with the ACA. The court is slated to a hear a case on the law shortly after the election.
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With no debate, will Trump and Biden face off in town halls on separate networks?
On one channel, the president of the United States. On another, the man running to replace him.
After the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to cancel the second presidential debate of the general election cycle, which was scheduled for Thursday night, it’s starting to look as though there could be an epic faceoff between the two candidates via two separate broadcast news channels.
Last Thursday, ABC announced plans for a debate-replacing Thursday night town hall with Biden, hosted by George Stephanopoulos and held in Philadelphia, just like the network’s Sept. 15 town hall with the president. The event will start at 8 p.m. and run for 90 minutes, according to additional details announced Monday — setting up a potential showdown with NBC, which is “in the works” on a similar town hall event with the president, according to a source familiar with the network’s plans.
At Barrett’s hearing, Harris echoed the health-care message of other Senate Democrats and warned that confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court would precipitate the demise of the Affordable Care Act.
In her opening remarks, Harris told the story of a constituent who has benefited from the protections of the 2010 health-care law: an 11-year-old girl named Myka from Southern California, who has a congenital heart defect and has to see multiple specialists during the year.
Harris argued that because Republicans have failed legislatively to repeal the increasingly popular ACA, “they are trying to bypass the will of the voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work.” The justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments in a high-profile Obamacare case on Nov. 10.
“They are trying to get a justice onto the court in time to ensure they can strip away the protections in the Affordable Care Act,” Harris said in. “And if they succeed, it will result in millions of people losing access to health care at the worst possible time, in the middle of a pandemic.”
In her remarks, Harris also cited the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, praising the deceased jurist as someone who “devoted her life to fight for equal justice.” As she hailed Ginsburg and her legacy, the children’s book “I Dissent” about the late justice was displayed behind her.
“By replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who will undo her legacy, President Trump is attempting to roll back Americans’ rights for decades to come,” Harris said.
Harris was appearing remotely from her office in the Hart Senate Office Building, saying that Republicans did not take sufficient public-health safeguards to hold such in-person proceedings during a pandemic.
Biden holds advantages in Wisconsin and Michigan, new polling finds
Biden holds a significant lead over Trump in Wisconsin and an apparent lead in Michigan, two key Midwestern battleground states, according to polls released Monday by the New York Times and Siena College.
In Wisconsin, Biden leads Trump among likely voters, 51 percent to 41 percent, according to the Time-Siena College polling.
In Michigan, Biden draws the support of 48 percent of likely voters, while Trump draws the support of 40 percent, the survey finds. That result does not fall outside the poll’s margin of error.
In 2016, Trump carried both states by less than a percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Both states were key to the electoral college victory that he assembled.
The polling shows that Trump’s support among White voters in particular is lagging, compared with his standing in 2016.
During a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday, Pence sharply criticized Biden and Harris for refusing to directly answer whether they would seek to “pack” the Supreme Court if Barrett is confirmed by the Senate and the Democratic ticket prevails in November.
“The American people deserve a straight answer, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris need to come clean with the American people and come clean now,” Pence said.
Biden, Harris and their top aides have repeatedly dodged the question of adding seats to the court in recent weeks, claiming that answering would be a distraction at a time when the focus should be on the battle over Barrett’s nomination.
Pence argued that the refusal to engage in hypotheticals about the size of the court was evidence that they support adding liberal justices.
“We’re not going to let it happen,” Pence said.
During his remarks, Pence also accused Democrats “and their Hollywood friends” of trying to make an issue out of Barrett’s Catholic faith. During the first four hours of opening statements Monday at her confirmation hearing, Democrats did not bring up the issue.
Meadows refuses to speak to reporters after being asked to keep on his mask
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Monday refused to answer questions from reporters outside the Senate room where Barrett’s confirmation hearing is taking place after he was asked to keep his mask on.
Video of the episode shows that Meadows initially took a few steps back from reporters, saying, “This way I can take this off,” as he started to remove his black mask.
“I’m more than 10 feet away,” he said as a CNN reporter objected.
Meadows then walked away, saying, “I’m not going to talk through a mask.”
Meadows has been overseeing protocols at the White House as it attempts to contain the spread of the virus, which has infected several key staffers and the president.
Trump eager to ramp up campaign schedule, aides say
Trump is eager to increase his schedule to include multiple rallies a day, and his campaign thinks that the Barrett hearing will provide an enthusiasm boost with key groups, senior aides told reporters Monday.
In a conference call held ahead of Trump’s return to the campaign trail after his coronavirus diagnosis, senior adviser Jason Miller said that the president had been “getting on my case for not having enough rallies.”
Trump currently plans to visit Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina over the next four days. Miller said that Trump’s itinerary would soon increase to include two or three events a day and predicted that it would eventually match the intensity of the home stretch of the 2016 campaign.
“He is strong. He’s is energetic. He is raring to go,” said campaign manager Bill Stepien, who said that he has returned to the office after having tested positive for coronavirus Oct. 2. “We’re excited to have [Trump] back out there. He is our best asset.”
Stepien also said that the confirmation process for Barrett has generated enthusiasm among Trump voters, particularly conservatives and Catholics. Barrett is Catholic.
“Politically, it’s given a real shot in the arm to our grass-roots efforts,” Stepien said, suggesting that Trump’s base is more energized by the court battle than Biden’s base.