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Former vice president Joe Biden campaigned Sunday in North Carolina, where he held an afternoon event encouraging supporters to vote early and a virtual meeting with African American faith leaders.

President Trump, meanwhile, continued his swing west, headlining a rally Sunday night in Carson City, Nev., a day after events in Michigan and Wisconsin. He also attended a church service in Las Vegas and held a fundraiser in Newport Beach, Calif.

With 16 days until the election …
October 18, 2020 at 9:51 PM EDT
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Trump’s inability to deliver on infrastructure creates opportunity for Biden

By Jeff Stein

MILWAUKEE — Gerry Winkleman points across the Milwaukee River at the former tannery where he worked for almost two decades as a union welder, repairing blow pipes and net machines that produced thousands of leather shoes and handbags every year.

Winkleman, 74, drives through a stretch of downtown Milwaukee that once served as a hub of U.S. manufacturing, pausing occasionally to note the factories that have either shuttered or moved their production to China over the past three decades: the Pabst and Schlitz breweries; the Allis-Chalmers manufacturing giant; several different tanneries; the Briggs & Stratton foundry; and Kearney & Trecker, which produced milling machines.

Winkleman voted for a Republican presidential candidate for the first time in his life in 2016, largely because of Trump’s promise to bring back manufacturing jobs and invest $1 trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure in Rust Belt states such as Wisconsin. This year, Winkleman will vote for former vice president Joe Biden, a decision sealed in part by Trump’s decision to pursue tax cuts — which Winkleman says primarily benefited the rich — over infrastructure investments. Winkleman said he and other members of the building trades were “snookered” by Trump’s 2016 promises to rebuild the country.

“He was giving this golden chariot of all that he was going to do. I was hoping my kids and grandkids would see what a prosperous country could look like,” said Winkleman, stopping to point to the aluminum siding he fitted for a hotel skybridge downtown. “The way [Trump] was talking — it was like he was backing us. It’s been a complete farce ever since.”

October 18, 2020 at 8:48 PM EDT
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Ossoff raises $1.8 million off Perdue’s mocking of Harris’s name, as Trump mispronounces it again

By Hannah Knowles

Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate in Georgia’s tight Senate race, has raised $1.8 million off his Republican opponent’s mocking of vice-presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris’s name, Ossoff’s campaign said.

The surge of funding came from nearly 60,000 supporters, campaign spokeswoman Miryam Lipper said Sunday evening, two days after Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) was pilloried for lingering on his Senate colleague’s first name while speaking at a campaign rally for President Trump. “Ka-ma-la, Ka-ma-la, Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever,” he said of Harris (D-Calif.), seeming to pause for laughs.

His campaign wrote in a statement that Perdue “simply mispronounced Sen. Harris’s name, and he didn’t mean anything by it.” But many condemned it as purposeful, and Ossoff immediately denounced the moment, which went viral.

“This kind of vile, race-baiting trash talk is what President Trump has unleashed from sitting Republican members in the Senate,” Ossoff said in an MSNBC interview.

He raised money from it, announcing a haul of $1 million by Saturday afternoon since Perdue “disgraced himself with bigoted mockery of Kamala’s name.”

Georgia has not elected a Democratic senator in decades, but analysts are calling this year’s race a toss-up.

Trump also has bungled Harris’s name — and did it again at a rally on Sunday night in Nevada.

The president put an emphasis on the second syllable of Kamala at his campaign event in Carson City, despite Harris repeatedly saying that her first name is pronounced “comma-la,” like the punctuation mark.

Meryl Kornfield contributed to this report.

October 18, 2020 at 7:48 PM EDT
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Black Americans head to the polls with urgency

By Amy Gardner

A 72-year-old voter in Dayton, Ohio, said, “I’m angry about everything.” A retired veterinary technician in Detroit said she voted for one reason only: “Donald Trump. To make sure he’s not reelected.” A federal employee who waited in line for 10 hours in suburban Atlanta explained simply: “I have three Black sons.”

Two weeks before Election Day, Black Americans have voted in striking numbers, helping drive historic levels of early voting as mail ballots have flooded election offices and people have endured long lines to cast ballots in person nationwide.

In interviews in 10 states where early voting is underway, Black voters said this year’s presidential election is the most important of their lifetime — some calling it more consequential even than 2008, when those who were old enough went to the polls in record numbers to elect Barack Obama the country’s first Black president.

October 18, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT
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Trump holding rallies this week in Arizona, Pennsylvania, N.C. ahead of debate

By Felicia Sonmez

Trump is scheduled to hold campaign rallies each of the next three days ahead of Thursday’s presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville.

On Monday, the president will headline two rallies in Arizona — one in Prescott, the other in Tucson. Trump had planned to visit the state in early October, but those rallies were postponed after the White House announced that the president had tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Trump will hold a rally in Erie, Pa., a state that is emerging as a key “tipping-point” battleground for both campaigns. Then, on Wednesday, Trump will rally supporters in Gastonia, N.C.

Details on Biden’s schedule were not immediately available. The former vice president was holding a rally in North Carolina and a virtual event with African American faith leaders on Sunday.

October 18, 2020 at 4:46 PM EDT
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How Kevin Van Ausdal lost everything after running for Congress against QAnon and Marjorie Taylor Greene

By Stephanie McCrummen

There was a time when Kevin Van Ausdal had not yet been called a “loser” and a “disgrace” and hustled out of Georgia. He had not yet punched a wall, or been labeled a “communist,” or a person “who’d probably cry like a baby if you put a gun in his face.” He did not yet know who the Republican nominee for Congress would be in his conservative district in northwestern Georgia: the well-known local neurosurgeon, or the woman he knew vaguely as a person who had openly promoted conspiracy theories, including one about a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles.

Anything still seemed possible in the spring of 2020, including the notion that he, Kevin Van Ausdal, a 35-year-old political novice who wanted to “bring civility back to Washington” might have a shot at becoming a U.S. congressman.

October 18, 2020 at 3:52 PM EDT
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Senate Democrats say final tally may not come on election night and urge voters not to panic

By Felicia Sonmez

Anticipating a 2020 campaign that goes past election night, Senate Democrats have released a report outlining their expectations for the evening, urging voters to prepare to see swings in the vote tally — and to be ready for a delay in the final results — as mail-in and in-person results are tallied amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a call with reporters Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) repeatedly emphasized that the results of the presidential election as well as some key Senate and House races may not be known on election night.

“If that happens, it’s okay,” Schumer said. “It just may take a little more time to count the votes,” particularly mail-in ballots, he added.

Sanders noted that “one of the worst lies” Trump is spreading “is that there is a massive amount of voter fraud in this country.”

“Democrats are much more likely to vote using mail-in ballots, while Republicans are much more likely to vote in person on Election Day,” he said. The initial results on election night will probably be the in-person votes; then the mail-in votes will be tallied, Sanders said, predicting that Biden would then take the lead over Trump.

Several of the Democrats on the call declined to say, however, whether they expect the election to ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court — and if so, what their expectations might be for such a scenario.

“I will not concede that this is going to end up in the Supreme Court or with some kind of fight in the electoral college,” Klobuchar said.

October 18, 2020 at 2:52 PM EDT
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Biden holds campaign rally in North Carolina, with no Cal Cunningham

By Sean Sullivan

Biden appeared at a drive-in rally in Durham, N.C., where he urged voters to cast their ballots early in a state Trump carried in 2016.

“You can vote early in person until the 31st — but don’t wait. Go vote today,” Biden said.

One person who notably was not at the event: Democratic Senate nominee Cal Cunningham. Cunningham has acknowledged sending illicit texts to a woman who is not his wife, a revelation that has jolted the final weeks of the campaign.

Representatives for the Biden and Cunningham campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether he was invited.

Biden has taken a keen interest in helping down-ballot Democrats, particularly in Senate races. On Friday, at an event in Michigan, Democratic Sen. Gary Peters was an introductory speaker. Biden touted Peters during his address.

North Carolina is seen as a key battleground in the fight for control of the Senate and the White House. While Biden did not appear with Cunningham, he made brief reference to the Senate contest, in which Cunningham is challenging Republican Sen. Thom Tillis.

“Don’t just vote for me and Senator Harris — you’ve got a governor’s race, a Senate race, a record number of Black women on the ballot. Congress and lieutenant governor, labor commissioner and the courts,” Biden said.

Biden wore a mask as he walked onstage and pulled it off right before he started speaking. The Democratic nominee, as he often does, took sharp aim at Trump’s widely criticized handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his racially divisive rhetoric. He spoke directly to communities of color in North Carolina and beyond.

“How do we break that cycle where in good times, you lag behind, in bad times, you get hit the hardest and first?” Biden said. “The answer is about justice.”

Biden, seeking to contrast his leadership style with Trump’s, said, “We need leadership that de-escalates tensions, opens lines of communication and brings us together to heal and to hope,” he said.

Before traveling to North Carolina, Biden went to church in Delaware and visited his son Beau Biden’s grave.

October 18, 2020 at 2:39 PM EDT
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Biden campaign airs new round of TV ads during NFL games

By Felicia Sonmez

The Biden campaign announced Sunday that it is running a new round of TV ads during NFL games today and later this week.

During today’s Browns-Steelers game, the campaign is airing a minute-long ad on CBS that tells the story of a bar owner in Ann Arbor, Mich., whose business has shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. “This is Donald Trump’s economy,” the bar owner says in the ad.

The campaign is also running a 30-second ad in the Pittsburgh market featuring retired Steelers player Ryan Shazier telling viewers, “If you want change, go vote. Use your power.”

A third ad will air on NBC during the Rams-49ers game. The 30-second spot highlights the story of a Pennsylvania veteran who returned to the United States with post-traumatic stress disorder. It also takes aim at Trump over his reported remarks disparaging military members; Trump has denied making such comments.

During ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” the Biden campaign will run a fourth ad featuring an Arizona college student and football player. “Trump’s failure of leadership is why we can’t play right now,” the student says in the ad.

Other ads will run during the Packers-Buccaneers game on Fox and during “Thursday Night Football,” according to the campaign, which is currently airing TV and digital ads in 16 states.

October 18, 2020 at 1:58 PM EDT
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Describing ties with Trump, Cornyn compares himself to 'women who ... think they’re going to change their spouse’

By Felicia Sonmez

As he faces a tough reelection challenge in a red state where Democrats have been gaining strength, Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.) has become the latest Republican senator to attempt to distance himself from Trump.

In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board published Sunday, Cornyn was asked about his relationship with the president. Cornyn responded with an analogy, describing himself as “maybe like a lot of women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse, and that doesn’t usually work out very well.”

“I think what we found is that we’re not going to change President Trump,” the senator added. “He is who he is. You either love him or hate him, and there’s not much in between. What I tried to do is not get into public confrontations and fights with him because, as I’ve observed, those usually don’t end too well.”

Cornyn’s Democratic challenger, MJ Hegar, shared a link to the story, which noted that Cornyn said he kept his opposition to Trump “private.” Hegar responded with a one-word tweet: “Coward.”

Polls show Cornyn has strengthened his lead over Hegar in recent weeks, although Hegar has more TV ads on the air. Hegar has also trounced Cornyn in the fundraising race, netting $13.5 million last quarter compared with Cornyn’s $7.2 million.

October 18, 2020 at 1:01 PM EDT
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Analysis: Democrats’ stunning fundraising

By Aaron Blake

Two years ago, Beto O’Rourke stunned the political world by raising $38.1 million in the final quarter of fundraising ahead of Texas’s Senate race, setting him on course for a near-miss loss in a state that Democrats had been trying to put in play for years.

By Friday morning, though, O’Rourke’s 2018 haul became something of a footnote. All told, Democratic candidates seeking to take back the Senate in November beat his record three times last quarter, and just about all of them swamped their GOP opponents (most of them incumbents) in the 2020 race.

Money isn’t everything in politics, but to the extent that it reflects momentum and enthusiasm, Democrats got another shot in the arm with a little more than two weeks left in the campaign.

October 18, 2020 at 12:03 PM EDT
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Whitmer accuses Trump of inciting ‘domestic terrorism’ at rally

By Paulina Firozi

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) condemned Trump after a crowd at his Muskegon, Mich., campaign rally the previous day targeted her with chants of “Lock her up!”

After the president went after Whitmer over her pandemic response — “You have got to get your governor to open up your state, okay,” he said — the crowd cheered and began to chant for Whitmer to be imprisoned.

In an interview Sunday on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” Whitmer decried the rhetoric, which comes days after authorities said they foiled an extremist plot to kidnap her. Those involved in the plot were allegedly motivated in part by anger over coronavirus-related restrictions Whitmer imposed in the state.

Trump has been repeatedly critical of Michigan leaders for state-imposed measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me — 10 days after that was uncovered — the president is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism,” she said. “It is wrong. It’s got to end. It is dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans.”

Whitmer tweeted Saturday that the chants were “exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger.”

“Lock ’em all up,” the president told his supporters amid the chants.

In response to a question about the fatigue that people in her state may be feeling amid pandemic restrictions, Whitmer turned to Trump’s comments and noted that her state’s stay-at-home orders were lifted in the late spring.

“But I know that he never lets the facts get in the way of comments that he’s making,” she said. “Every moment that we are not focused on the fact there are 220,000 Americans who have died from this virus is good for him. … As he incites additional violence against people who are just trying to save one another’s lives, it’s good for him.”

October 18, 2020 at 11:50 AM EDT
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Trump will give Biden ‘a little bit more room to explain himself’ at next debate, adviser says

By Felicia Sonmez

A Trump campaign official said Sunday that the president will give Biden “a little bit more room to explain himself” at the next presidential debate, scheduled for Thursday.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller suggested that Trump won’t interrupt Biden as frequently as he did during their first faceoff, which occurred last month, when the president repeatedly interjected and jeered at his competitor.

“When you talk about style and you talk about approach, I do think that President Trump is going to give Joe Biden a little bit more room to explain himself on some of these issues,” Miller said Sunday. He cited several topics, such as court-packing, the Biden family’s financial interests and U.S. foreign policy during Biden’s years as vice president and as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I do think the president’s going to want to hear Joe Biden’s answer on some of these, and we’ll definitely give him all the time that Joe Biden wants to talk about packing the court,” Miller said.

Miller also defended Trump’s recent suggestion that there are “two stories” when it comes to the effectiveness of masks at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Public health experts have pushed back against Trump’s statement, noting that masks and social distancing have proved effective.

“The fact of the matter is, masks on their own, while very, very important, are not the cure-all,” Miller said. “So, for example, you take someone like President Trump, who frequently, the people around him have — all have their masks on, they’ll be tested and somehow, he still got covid.”

Miller added: “If you want to defeat covid, vote for President Trump. If you want to live in your basement the rest of your life, well, Joe Biden’s a good option for you.”

Notwithstanding the assertion, Biden, like Trump, has been an active presence on the campaign trail amid the pandemic and is holding two events on Sunday.

October 18, 2020 at 11:23 AM EDT
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New CBS poll shows Biden leading Trump in Wisconsin, virtually tied in Arizona

By Felicia Sonmez

A new CBS News poll shows Biden leading Trump among likely voters in Wisconsin, while the race in Arizona is neck and neck.

Trump won Wisconsin by a razor-thin margin in 2016 and cruised to victory in Arizona; the campaigns are working to woo voters in both states with Election Day a little over two weeks away.

Biden wins the support of 51 percent of likely voters in Wisconsin, according to the new survey, while Trump is backed by 46 percent. In Arizona, Biden takes 50 percent among likely voters compared with 47 percent for Trump.

The surveys were conducted Oct. 13-16 and have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for the Wisconsin results and 4.1 percentage points for Arizona.

Notably, while Trump and his campaign have been driving home the message that he is best poised to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the survey shows that a majority of likely voters in both states believe Biden would do a better job handling the crisis.

October 18, 2020 at 10:59 AM EDT
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Trailing in the polls and in fundraising, Trump clings to one marker as a sign of success: Crowd size

By David Nakamura

Trump is trailing Biden in the polls, lagging badly in fundraising and losing out on the endorsements of some prominent Republicans and even former aides.

But there remains one marker by which Trump believes his campaign is showing its true vitality in the home stretch and demonstrating why he can win again Nov. 3: crowd size.

Trump has returned to the campaign trail with gusto after battling the novel coronavirus, holding daily rallies with thousands of supporters at airport hangars, including events in recent days in Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. In doing so, the president is again flouting warnings from doctors — including Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious-disease expert — about the potential health risks of large groups gathering with little social distancing and many eschewing masks.