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President Trump on Tuesday lamented his souring support among suburban women voters, begging them during a Pennsylvania rally to like him as he ramps up travel following his return to the campaign trail. In Florida, Democratic nominee Joe Biden made his most direct appeal yet to older voters.

Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), faced off against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, as her confirmation hearing continues in Washington. Meanwhile, Vice President Pence made an appearance in Wisconsin.

With 21 days until the election …
  • Biden, who for weeks has avoided saying whether he supports expanding the Supreme Court, said Monday that he is “not a fan” of the idea, which has gained steam in his party’s liberal wing.
  • Barrett repeatedly said that neither the president nor anyone else in the White House urged her to rule one way or another on any specific case, including those that might concern the 2020 presidential election.
  • An accidentally severed fiber-optic cable in Virginia effectively shut down most of the state’s online voter registration on its last day Tuesday, prompting voter advocates to file a lawsuit in federal court seeking an extension of the deadline.
  • Early voting in Texas began Tuesday with crowds of excited voters waiting in line for several hours to cast their ballot in some places, even as new legal developments threatened to restrict options for voting ahead of Election Day.
  • 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.
October 13, 2020 at 10:00 PM EDT
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Trump begs: ‘Suburban women, will you please like me?’

By Colby Itkowitz

Trump lamented his souring support among suburban women voters, begging them during a Pennsylvania rally to like him.

“Suburban women, they should like me more than anybody here tonight because I ended deregulation that destroyed your neighborhood. I ended the regulation that brought crime to the suburbs,” Trump said, referring to an Obama-era anti-segregation rule that his administration ended.

So can I ask you to do me a favor? Suburban women, will you please like me? I saved your d--- neighborhood,” the president said.

Trump said he’s heard that suburban women don’t like how he talks, but that he doesn’t have time to be nice.

You know, I can do it, but I got to go quickly. We don’t have time,” Trump said. “They want me to be politically correct.”

Trump predicted that more suburban women, a crucial voting bloc especially in voter-rich suburbs around Philadelphia that tend to be a bellwether for the mood of the country, will vote for him than expected as happened four years ago when pundits predicted he wouldn’t get support from women.

“I said, ‘Why? Am I so bad?’ ” he said. Then I got 52 percent. They said, ‘What the hell happened with the women?’ ”

Trump has cited that false statistic for years, using the percent of support he received from White women in 2016 to represent women overall.

October 13, 2020 at 10:00 PM EDT
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Pelosi punches back on questions about her stimulus bill strategy in contentious television interview

By Erica Werner

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended her strategy on economic relief legislation in a fiery television interview Tuesday evening, repeatedly punching back at CNN host Wolf Blitzer as he questioned why she wouldn’t take a $1.8 trillion deal offered by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Blitzer suggested that Pelosi should directly call President Trump — who has repeatedly proclaimed he wants a big deal — and get it done.

Pelosi said she does not speak with the president.

“What makes me amused, if it weren’t so sad, is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them to represent them at that table,” Pelosi said. “It is unfortunate that we do not have shared values with this White House.”

Trump and Pelosi have not spoken in about a year. Meanwhile, prospects are quickly dimming for any new stimulus legislation to pass before the election, even with millions still out of work and numerous signs that the economy is slowing.

October 13, 2020 at 9:45 PM EDT
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Ignoring scientific uncertainty, Trump tells fellow coronavirus survivors at rally, ‘You’re right now immune’

By Colby Itkowitz

Triumphant on his second day back on the campaign trail since contracting the coronavirus, Trump polled his rally crowd on how many had also had the virus and then celebrated a supposed immunity, even though that’s not guaranteed.

“Who has had it here? Who’s had it?” Trump asked, as some in the Pennsylvania rally crowd shouted. “I know a lot of people, a lot of people. We are the people I want to say hello to because you are right now immune. You’re right now immune.”

Reinfection is believed to be rare, but there’s still a lot unknown about immunity and how long it lasts.

Trump reasoned he could kiss everyone in the crowd, a recycled line from the previous night’s rally.

“I’d start kissing everybody. I’ll kiss every guy, man and woman, man, woman. Look at that guy. How handsome he is. I’ll kiss him, not with a lot of enjoyment, but that’s okay,” Trump said.

Trump also defended his controversial behavior during the months-long pandemic, during which he has continued to hold large political rallies and White House events with crowds. He and many of his closest aides contracted the virus about two weeks ago.

I got to get out and have to meet people, and I have to see people,” Trump said. “And I know it’s risky to do that, but you have to do what you have to do.”

October 13, 2020 at 9:44 PM EDT
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Breonna Taylor on the mind of some early voters in Kentucky

By Josh Wood

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- There were no lines to speak of on Tuesday afternoon at downtown Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center arena, home to the University of Louisville’s basketball team, where voters cast their ballots in a lobby where basketball fans usually check their tickets for their seat numbers.

Around 3:20 p.m., dozens of supporters of Breonna Taylor arrived to vote. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was fatally shot by police in her Louisville apartment in March. Voter registration drives have been a regular part of the protest movement in Louisville in recent months.

Rhonne Green, who emerged from the polling place wearing a T-shirt that said, “Stand for Black Women” said events in Louisville this year and the nationwide calls for racial justice weighed heavy on how he cast his ballot.

“We’ve been going through this for way too long and everybody keeps putting a Band-Aid over it or sweeping it under the rug,” the 39-year old said, adding that he didn’t march to the polls but has been at the Taylor protests from the start. “This still happens every day. I’m still persecuted before the movement, even more during the movement. It has to change now.”

He said he had misgivings about mailing an absentee ballot and decided to go vote in person.

Lettie Heer, 77, rode her bike to the Yum! Center while wearing a Black Lives Matter mask after her friend told her there were no lines. She worried about whether absentee votes would get counted and Trump disputing the election.

“So much has been made of ‘the post office will throw the ballot away’ or they won’t count them or something,” she said. “I’m not a Trump supporter and there’s going to be less of a chance of him protesting if he really loses on election day.”

October 13, 2020 at 9:30 PM EDT
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Dems’ VP nominee and Trump’s Supreme Court pick talk health care, integrity, in first Q&A

By Karoun Demirjian

The much-anticipated first face-off between Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris and Trump’s pick to serve on the Supreme Court proceeded smoothly late Tuesday, despite Election Day looming just three weeks away.

Harris, known as one of the fiercest questioner on the Democrats’ side of the Judiciary Committee, has in the past, felled several Trump appointees -- including Attorney General William P. Barr -- with lines of questioning. But she refrained from taking an aggressive tone with Barrett, sticking mainly to questions about Barrett’s views on the Affordable Care Act, which is scheduled to come before the Supreme Court once again next month.

Barrett refused to divulge her views, pointing out that she had spent the entire day declining to address specific questions about past or upcoming cases, unless she had personally ruled or commented on them.

She also stressed that she had never been asked, nor offered, the president and his advisers any “commitment” about how she might rule in a future case.

“I hope the committee would trust in my integrity,” Barrett said to Harris.

Other Democratic senators on the panel had questioned Barrett, challenging the nominee over why she would not answer questions about certain legal standards, and why she had not alerted the committee to a 2013 statement she signed disparaging the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade until a few days ago.

Barrett frequently cited the so-called “Ginsburg rule,” that dictates a judge cannot hint or preview their position on legal issues without undermining their impartiality and the judicial process.

Harris was the only senator to point out that the rule’s namesake, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, made an exception to that standard: she did express her support for reproductive rights.

Before her time was up, Harris asked Barrett if she thought about the people affected by her legal opinions, such as those dependent on the Affordable Care Act for their health care.

“Every case has consequences on people’s lives, so of course I do, in every case,” Barrett said. “It’s part of the judicial decision-making process.”

Due to the pandemic, Harris participated in the hearing remotely.

October 13, 2020 at 8:00 PM EDT
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Melania Trump is having a hard time distancing herself from the president

By Jada Yuan

The day after President Trump made his dramatic return from the hospital, taking off his mask in an “Evita”-style moment outside the White House residence before walking inside, the office of first lady Melania Trump, who was also sick with the coronavirus, released an incredibly detailed statement on the precautions it had taken since March to protect the members of the staff — the butlers, housekeepers, florists, chefs — working in the executive residence.

The timing of the statement, about the care she is taking to prevent the spread of the virus while her infectious husband returned to the White House, was its own kind of statement. This first lady with what can at times seem like an antagonistic relationship with the press, who rarely gives interviews or deviates from her prepared remarks at public appearances, was following her own playbook.

“It’s extraordinary in history, and it’s a direct contradiction to the way in which he is behaving,” says Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University and author of “The President’s Partner: The First Lady in the Twentieth Century.” Gutin says she cannot think of any other first lady who’s released a separate statement from her own office so diametrically opposed to the president’s messaging — and with an election less than 30 days away.

October 13, 2020 at 7:33 PM EDT
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Biden: ‘Three more weeks until we end this madness’

By Colby Itkowitz

Campaigning in Florida, Biden underscored the importance of the battleground state, telling his supporters who came out to see him: “You can determine the outcome of this election. We win Florida and it’s all over.”

Biden slammed Trump for his handling of the coronavirus, as he does in every speech, including how the president acted after contracting the virus himself.

“His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis has been unconscionable,” Biden said. “The longer Donald Trump becomes president the more reckless he becomes. Three more weeks until we end this madness.”

Describing the president’s alleged disparaging remarks about U.S. troops, which Trump has vehemently denied, Biden said, “Who the heck does this guy think he is?”

“How can we have a guy like this? We are so much better than this,” the former vice president said.

While Trump has sought to paint Biden as an extremist taken over by the liberal wing of his party, Biden continues to stress his desire for moderation. He said that when he said he wanted to run for president to “unite Americans” he was “made fun of, told you can’t do that anymore.”

But, Biden said, without consensus, a “semi-dictatorial like this guy," referring to Trump, fills the vacuum.

October 13, 2020 at 6:56 PM EDT
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Early voting begins in Texas with high turnout, despite new legal developments on voting access

By Amy Gardner, Michelle Lee and Brittney Martin

Early voting in Texas began Tuesday with crowds of excited voters waiting in line for several hours to cast their ballot in some places, even as new legal developments sowed confusion and threatened to restrict options for voting ahead of Election Day.

As they have in other states, long lines formed outside voting locations as socially distanced voters sometimes turned up hours before early in-person voting began Tuesday morning. Many brought folding chairs, lunches and umbrellas to wait their turn.

Meanwhile, a federal panel of judges overturned a lower-court ruling in Texas that had allowed counties across the state to offer multiple locations for voters to drop off their absentee ballots in person. And election officials contended with a new lawsuit from the Texas GOP seeking to block the Harris County clerk from allowing any registered voter to vote in person from their cars or at the curb options that appeared popular Tuesday amid coronavirus concerns.

October 13, 2020 at 6:45 PM EDT
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‘Unmasking’ probe commissioned by Barr quietly concludes without charges or any public report

By Matt Zapotosky and Shane Harris

The federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General William P. Barr to review whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals whose names were redacted in intelligence documents has completed his work without finding any substantive wrongdoing, according to people familiar with the matter.

The revelation that U.S. Attorney John Bash, who left the department last week, had concluded his review without criminal charges or any public report will rankle President Trump at a moment when he is particularly upset at the Justice Department. The department has so far declined to release the results of Bash’s work, though people familiar with his findings say they would likely disappoint conservatives who have tried to paint the “unmasking” of names — a common practice in government to help understand classified documents — as a political conspiracy.

The president in recent days has pressed federal law enforcement to move against his political adversaries and complained that a different prosecutor tapped by Barr to investigate the FBI’s 2016 investigation of his campaign will not be issuing any public findings before the election.

October 13, 2020 at 5:40 PM EDT
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Severed fiber-optic cable shuts down multiple state websites in Virginia, affecting last day of voter registration

By Antonio Olivo

A severed fiber-optic cable in Virginia shut down multiple state websites for most of the day Tuesday, potentially affecting thousands of Virginians on the state’s last day for registering to vote, state officials said.

The Virginia Department of Elections said the cut happened in the Chester area near Route 10. They cited a notice provided by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA), which handles IT services for the state. The outage had “affected the Department’s citizen portal along with local registrar’s offices across the Commonwealth,” department spokeswoman Andrea Gaines said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for VITA said the cable was accidentally cut overnight during work related to a roadside utilities project. Service was restored by 3:45 p.m., according to the agency.

October 13, 2020 at 5:13 PM EDT
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Beto O’Rourke says volunteers made nearly 3 million calls to Texas voters ahead of early voting

By Paulina Firozi

Former Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke said his grass-roots group helped make nearly 3 million calls to Texas voters one day before the start of early voting in the state, which began Tuesday.

In a massive phone-banking operation dubbed “Calling Texas,” O’Rourke deployed celebrities and high-profile Democrats to rally volunteers who by the day’s end made, O’Rourke tweeted, 2,942,597 calls.

O’Rourke said the phone banking event started with a goal about a third of the size.

“We set a goal to make more than 1 million calls today to Texas voters head of the first day of early voting, which is tomorrow, in the biggest swing state, in the most important election of our lives,” O’Rourke said in a video posted Monday evening, hours after the phone banking began. “And thanks to all of the amazing volunteers … we have made almost 1.5 million so far and we’re going to reset the target to 2 million.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang joined to encourage volunteers. Oprah Winfrey and Willie Nelson made appearances, too.

“As you may know, early voting begins tomorrow,” Winfrey said on the phone to a voter in a video posted to O’Rourke’s Facebook page. “On a scale from zero to 10, zero being I’m never going to vote and 10 being I’m definitely voting, what number describes you?”

The voter responded: “I’m an 11, I’m already there tomorrow."

Throughout the virtual phone-banking event and on social media, O’Rourke, the special guests and others with his political action committee, Powered by People, have been pushing to get people to vote for Democrats down the ballot in the state that President Trump won by nine points in 2016.

A Washington Post average of Texas polls since mid-September finds a close race in Texas — just four points separate Trump at 49 percent to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at 45 percent.

In the state’s closely watched U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent John Cornyn has an eight point lead over Democrat MJ Hegar, according to a Post average of polls.

October 13, 2020 at 4:40 PM EDT
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Biden: Trump has ‘doubled down on the misinformation’ during recovery from virus

By Sean Sullivan

Biden said Tuesday that Trump has only “doubled down on the misinformation,” as he has recovered from covid-19, as the Democrat delivered a speech in Florida aimed directly at seniors.

“I prayed for his recovery when he got covid,” Biden said in Pembroke Pines, Fla. “I had hoped at least he’d come out of it somewhat chastened. But what has he done? He’s just doubled down on the misinformation he did before in making it worse."

Biden added, “So many lives have been lost unnecessarily because this president cares more about the stock market than he does about, you know, the well-being of seniors.”

Biden took aim at Trump’s policy approaches on health care as well as his handling of the pandemic in advancing a larger argument that seniors ought to vote against the incumbent. At one point, he asked how many have been unable to hug their grandchildren because of the pandemic.

Seniors make up a significant part of the electorate in Florida. And polls show that after supporting Trump strongly in 2016, many have turned away from the president.

In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh accused Biden of “playing politics with people’s lives over the virus” and said “Trump has accomplished more in 47 months than Biden has in 47 years.”

October 13, 2020 at 4:08 PM EDT
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Dispatch from Kentucky: ‘I can’t see any more risk than waiting in line at Kroger, frankly’

By Josh Wood

Early voting was going smoothly Tuesday in Kentucky’s Bullitt County, a county south of Louisville that Trump won by nearly 50 percentage points four years ago.

Poll worker Michelle Hysell said she had seen a “steady stream” of voters throughout the day but that the process had not seen a wait yet.

Early Tuesday afternoon, voters were moving in a matter of minutes through Shepherdsville’s Paroquet Springs Conference Centre, which is serving as the county’s sole in-person early-voting precinct.

“I wanted to go and do it. My mind’s made up,” said Martin Brown, a 59-year-old Bullitt County voter, when asked what brought him out on the first day of early in-person voting. “In person, I can’t see any more risk than waiting in line at Kroger, frankly.”

Brown said he voted for Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). He was optimistic McConnell would win his race. “The Democrats ran another terrible candidate,” he said.

In 2016, Trump won 72.6 percent of the vote in Bullitt County.

Also voting there Tuesday afternoon was Rosemary Parrish, 80.

“I talked to my neighbor, and she said she had a friend who came and walked right in, so I thought I would give it a shot,” she said.

Asked about concerns Trump has raised about mail-in ballots, Parrish said, “I think that’s a crock.” She was, however, worried about a transition of power should Trump lose the election. “I’m a little worried about that. I don’t know what they could do, if they have to drag him out by force or what. Hopefully he’ll be gone, one way or another.”

Parrish said she voted for Biden and Democratic Senate nominee Amy McGrath, but she said McGrath probably doesn’t have a chance at unseating McConnell.

October 13, 2020 at 3:55 PM EDT
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Barrett declines to say whether she’d recuse herself from any Supreme Court cases related to the November election

By Ann Marimow

During the second day of her confirmation hearings Tuesday, Barrett refused to commit to recuse herself from cases involving disputes over next month’s presidential election, but she told senators she will not allow herself “to be used as a pawn to decide the election for the American people.”

“I will consider all factors that are relevant to that question that requires recusal when there’s an appearance of bias,” she told Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), who like other Senate Democrats said Barrett should not participate in cases involving the election of the president who nominated her.

“I can’t commit to you right now, but I do assure you of my integrity, and I do assure you that I would take that question very seriously,” she said.

As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit for the past three years, Barrett has not directly decided cases involving election issues.

“I have never written anything that I thought anybody could reasonably say, ‘This is how she might resolve an election dispute,’ ” Barrett said.