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President Trump rallied supporters in Londonderry, N.H., on Sunday afternoon and will later return to Washington, holding a “Halloween at the White House” event with first lady Melania Trump. Vice President Pence is hitting the campaign trail, as well, even as some of his top aides have tested positive for the coronavirus. Pence will deliver remarks at a rally in Kinston, N.C., on Sunday night.

Former vice president Joe Biden, meanwhile, is hosting a virtual “I Will Vote” concert, and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), is spending the day in Michigan. Harris participated in a drive-in church service and canvass kickoff event outside Detroit; later, she will hold a meeting with volunteers in Troy and a drive-in rally in Pontiac.

With 9 days until Election Day …
  • Trump declined to say whether he thinks Pence should continue campaigning, telling reporters, “You’ll have to ask him. He’s doing very well; good crowds, very socially distanced.”
  • Trump and Biden spent Saturday fanned out across Florida and the Midwest, sharpening their messages in key battleground areas.
  • Former president Barack Obama will stump for Biden and Harris in Orlando on Tuesday.
  • Fearful calls flood election offices as Trump attacks mail-in voting, threatening participation in GOP strongholds.
October 25, 2020 at 4:30 PM EDT
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NYPD officer suspended without pay after being filmed using squad car speaker to back Trump

By Mark Berman

The New York City Police Department said Sunday that an officer was suspended without pay after being recorded on video apparently using his squad car speaker to say "Trump 2020” and endorse the president’s reelection bid.

At least two video clips shared widely on social media Saturday night appeared to capture the same incident in Brooklyn. In one of the videos, it appeared the voice using the speaker was encouraging people to film and said: “Trump 2020. You can put it on YouTube, put it on Facebook. Trump 2020.”

Dermot Shea, the NYPD commissioner, posted on Twitter that the video footage was “one hundred percent unacceptable. Period.”

“Law Enforcement must remain apolitical, it is essential in our role to serve ALL New Yorkers regardless of any political beliefs,” Shea wrote.

Hours later, the country’s largest police force announced that the officer being investigated “for using a department vehicle’s loud speaker for political purposes has been suspended, effective immediately.”

Police in New York and across the country had said they were bracing for Election Day amid sky-high tensions, which include fears of voter intimidation at polling sites and concerns about potential clashes and violence. Trump has also stoked fears about voter intimidation with his call to have law enforcement officials patrol polling sites, a tactic historically used to intimidate voters of color.

During a briefing last week on the NYPD’s election preparations, Terence A. Monahan, the chief of department, said it would have officers present at every polling place in the city to help ensure people can safely vote. Monahan was also asked if his force could remain impartial after the largest New York City police union endorsed Trump and said they could, pledging that officers on the job would not take political actions.

“When we put on this uniform, we are apolitical,” Monahan told reporters. “We have no stance one way or the other.”

October 25, 2020 at 3:53 PM EDT
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Rick Perry says Trump won’t visit Texas before Election Day because it’s ‘not a battleground state’

By Felicia Sonmez

Former Texas governor Rick Perry (R) said Sunday that Trump isn’t planning to visit Texas before Election Day, dismissing polls that show a tight race in the Lone Star State.

“He’s going to be in battleground states. Texas is not a battleground state. It’s that simple,” Perry, who served as Trump’s energy secretary, said on a call with reporters Sunday afternoon.

Trump won Texas by nine percentage points in 2016, the smallest margin for any Republican presidential nominee since 1996. Most polls show Trump leading Biden in the state by single digits, but early voting in some of the most populous counties, where Democrats have been gaining strength, has been eye-popping so far.

Dan Balz contributed to this report.

October 25, 2020 at 3:25 PM EDT
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As new U.S. coronavirus cases reach all-time high, Trump says pandemic is ‘ending anyway’

By Felicia Sonmez

Trump said Sunday that the coronavirus pandemic is “ending anyway,” even as the number of new cases in the country has reached an all-time high.

The president’s comments at a rally in Londonderry, N.H., came hours after White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows declared in an interview on CNN, “We are not going to control the pandemic.”

Discussing the development of a potential coronavirus vaccine, Trump told supporters in New Hampshire that “it’s going to be delivered fast.”

“That will quickly end the pandemic — it’s ending anyway,” he said. “We’re rounding the turn, but the vaccine will get it down fast, because we want normal life to resume. Normal life. We just want normal, normal life.”

The crowd cheered as Trump spoke about returning to a “normal life.” At the end of the rally, he spent a few minutes dancing onstage to a song that has become one of his campaign-trail staples, “YMCA.”

On Friday, the United States hit an all-time high in new coronavirus cases, surpassing the mark set during a summer surge across the Sun Belt. Friday’s tally of new U.S. cases — the first above 80,000 — comes as covid-19 hospitalizations are soaring across the country.

October 25, 2020 at 2:35 PM EDT
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Biden says Meadows’s comments show Trump administration ‘has given up’ on controlling pandemic

By Felicia Sonmez

Biden on Sunday seized on White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’s comments about the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the remarks show the Trump administration “has given up” on trying to slow the spread of the virus.

“White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows stunningly admitted this morning that the administration has given up on even trying to control this pandemic, that they’ve given up on their basic duty to protect the American people,” Biden said in a statement.

“This wasn’t a slip by Meadows, it was a candid acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t.”

Meadows told CNN on Sunday: “We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation.”

The Democratic National Committee also hammered Meadows over the comments, saying that the chief of staff “just admitted out loud what has long been Trump’s strategy on the coronavirus: wave the white flag and surrender as Americans continue to suffer.”

“The American people deserve better than a president who gives up in the face of crisis,” DNC spokesman Eduardo Silva said in a statement.

October 25, 2020 at 1:51 PM EDT
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Barrett nomination clears Senate hurdle, putting her on course to confirmation to Supreme Court

By Seung Min Kim

Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court broke through one more hurdle ahead of her all-but-assured confirmation to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Democratic senators ramped up criticism of the conservative judge.

The vote to end a filibuster on her nomination, which occurred around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, was 51 to 48. Two GOP senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voted with Democrats to oppose Barrett’s nomination from advancing, although Murkowski plans to support the federal appeals court judge on the confirmation vote on Barrett’s merits.

If confirmed, Barrett will be the third Supreme Court pick from Trump.

October 25, 2020 at 1:16 PM EDT
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New poll shows Biden, Trump virtually tied in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina

By Felicia Sonmez

A new CBS News-YouGov poll shows Trump and Biden tied in a trio of Southern states that will be key to the November election.

According to the survey, Biden is supported by 50 percent of likely voters in Florida, while 48 percent back Trump. In Georgia, the candidates take 49 percent apiece among likely voters. And in North Carolina, 51 percent support Biden while 47 percent say they’d vote for Trump.

The poll was conducted Oct. 20 to 23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points in Florida, 3.4 points in Georgia and 4.1 points in North Carolina.

A plurality of voters in all three states says Biden would do a better job than Trump of handling the coronavirus pandemic.

There is a stark difference among supporters of each candidate on whether the pandemic is a major issue in their vote this year. The survey shows that in Florida, for example, more than 9 out of 10 Biden voters say the coronavirus is a major factor in their vote, while 45 percent of Trump voters say the same. The overwhelming majority of Trump voters in Florida — 96 percent — say the economy is a major factor in their vote, while 74 percent of Biden voters say the same.

October 25, 2020 at 12:30 PM EDT
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Analysis: The secretaries of state and election officials you may be hearing about after Election Day

By Amber Phillips

Most of the time, the work of a state secretary of state or body that oversees elections is done in the background. So when they are in the news, it’s often for something big. Think of the 2000 contested presidential election that came down to Florida. It was the secretary of state, Katherine Harris, who named George W. Bush the winner, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court later upheld.

As heads of their state’s election offices, these officials — who tend to be relatively unknown compared with other statewide officials — are in charge of making sure their state’s election runs smoothly. That is extra challenging in a pandemic and a hyperpartisan environment in which misinformation can easily take hold.

October 25, 2020 at 12:27 PM EDT
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Pence’s personal aide tests positive for coronavirus

By Josh Dawsey

A personal aide to Pence — known informally as a “body man” who accompanies the Vice President throughout his day — has also contracted the novel coronavirus, two officials said Sunday.

Pence is regularly in sustained close contact with the aide, who travels with him on Air Force Two and accompanies him for much of his day in the White House complex.

An official familiar said the personal aide tested positive while in quarantine, which he began on Tuesday after having close contact with Marty Obst, Pence’s political adviser who also tested positive Tuesday. Marc Short, the Vice president’s chief of staff, is also in quarantine after testing positive on Saturday and is symptomatic.

The vice president tested negative Sunday, a spokesman said, and is continuing to campaign even though he has been in “close contact” with those now positive. He is going to North Carolina on Sunday and will be wearing a mask, according to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

October 25, 2020 at 12:21 PM EDT
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Pelosi says she will seek another term as House speaker

By Cat Zakrzewski

Nancy Pelosi intends to run for another term as House speaker, she said Sunday morning on CNN.

Pelosi’s commitment underscores Democrats’ confidence that they will be able to retain their majority in the House after Election Day. She also called Trump’s debate-stage prediction that Republicans would retake the House majority “delusional.”

“You keep thinking that, Mr. President,” she said. “You just keep on thinking that. Just another example of the delusional statements he made there.”

It remains to be seen whether Pelosi (Calif.) will be able to secure support from more liberal wings of the Democratic Party in a bid to reclaim the speakership. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) declined to commit to supporting Pelosi if she sought another term as speaker, saying Democrats need to remain focused on Election Day and growing their majority in the House. She also said she needs to see who else might make a bid for the position.

“I’m committed to making sure that we have the most progressive candidate there,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “If Speaker Pelosi is that most progressive candidate, then I will be supporting her.”

Ocasio-Cortez voted for Pelosi in her bid for her current term. The California Democrat clinched the votes for another term as speaker in 2018 after promising that she would step aside by 2022, a pledge that sought to address a group of insurgent Democrats who tried to block her nomination in an effort to force generational change in Congress.

Pelosi’s commitment comes as she’s locked in intense negotiations with the Trump administration over a potential stimulus deal, which is increasingly unlikely to pass before Election Day. She said, however, that she remains optimistic that they can still reach a deal before Nov. 3.

“I will never give up hope,” she said.

October 25, 2020 at 12:18 PM EDT
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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez says Biden’s position on fracking doesn’t bother her

By Cat Zakrzewski and Felicia Sonmez

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has introduced a bill to ban fracking by 2025, said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Biden’s position on fracking doesn’t bother her.

“Biden has made very clear that he does not agree with a fracking ban, and it will be a privilege to lobby him should we win the White House,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But we need to focus on winning the White House first, and I’m happy to make my case, but I understand that we are in disagreement on that issue.”

She called Biden’s commitment to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels “an important first step.”

During last week’s final presidential debate, Biden asserted that he never said he opposed fracking and angrily rebutted the president’s claim that there was video evidence that he had. Conservatives also seized on Biden’s comment that he would “transition from the oil industry,” which he later sought to underscore would happen gradually.

On Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez pushed back on the suggestion that Biden’s position on fracking would impact youth voter turnout, saying young people are looking for a candidate whom they can lobby.

“They believe that they want to vote for a president who is at least receptive to their advocacy, activism and protests, frankly,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “There is no question that Joe Biden is a much better person in that position, to be receptive and listen to voices of advocates, than Donald Trump, who is intensely focused on enriching himself and his friends.”

Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said Sunday that Trump is “trying to distort” the former vice president’s position on the issue.

“Look, as Joe Biden said on the debate stage, he is not going to end the fossil fuel industry; he’s going to end subsidies for the oil industry,” Bedingfield said. “He believes that your taxpayer dollars should go to education. Donald Trump believes they should go to Exxon. … People are not going to lose jobs under a Biden administration.”

Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

October 25, 2020 at 11:00 AM EDT
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Christie says he’s ‘a little bit surprised’ that Pence is campaigning after staffers tested positive

By Jeanne Whalen, Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R) said Sunday that he was “a little bit surprised” that Pence is sticking to his campaign schedule, given that two of his top staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Everybody’s got to put the health of the people they’re going to be in touch with first,” Christie said during an appearance on ABC News’s “This Week.” “You’ve got to keep yourself away from everybody, and I’m a little bit surprised,” he added.

According to Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley, Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for the virus on Sunday morning. The vice president is expected to head to North Carolina on Sunday to hold a “Make America Great Again” rally.

Christie is a close ally of Trump. But earlier this month, he admitted in a frank statement that he was “wrong” not to wear a mask at a Sept. 26 White House event where the coronavirus spread among several attendees. The former governor tested positive for the virus after attending the event.

Asked on ABC whether Trump should be worried about his reelection prospects given his performance in the polls, Christie said, “Of course he should, and he is. I mean, when he says he’s not, that’s what you do when you’re running for office. You don’t say you’re worried.”

“Certainly the president is the underdog as we sit here this morning, and if he weren’t worried about that, then he wouldn’t be thinking,” Christie added.

Harris told reporters Sunday that she believes the Trump-Pence campaign should follow the Biden-Harris team’s lead and call off travel in light of the Pence staffers’ positive test results.

Earlier this month, Harris suspended travel after two people who were around her tested positive for the coronavirus.

“He should be following the guidelines,” Harris said in Michigan when asked whether Pence should cancel his campaign travel. “We’re doing it. I think that we have modeled the right and good behavior, and they should take our lead.”

October 25, 2020 at 10:45 AM EDT
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‘We’re not going to control the pandemic,’ Meadows says

By Cat Zakrzewski and Felicia Sonmez

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows offered a stark assessment of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that the spread of the virus is a foregone conclusion.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation.”

He compared the virus to the flu and said the administration is making efforts to contain it, even as the Trump campaign faces criticism for holding large campaign rallies while coronavirus cases are on the rise.

“What we need to do is make sure we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies, vaccines or treatments, to make sure that people don’t die from this,” Meadows said.

Meadows criticized Biden’s positions on the virus, suggesting that the Democratic nominee would lock down Americans if elected president. Biden has said he would listen to scientists in determining his coronavirus response.

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, echoed Meadows’s comments about the pandemic on Sunday.

“The way to stop this virus is through vaccines and therapeutics,” O’Brien told host Margaret Brennan when asked during an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” whether the White House has given up on trying to control the spread of the virus.

But some experts on Sunday pushed back.

Scott Gottlieb, a Republican former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said the country shouldn’t just be buckling up and allowing the virus to remain out of control. He recommended taking concrete actions to mitigate the virus’s spread.

“There’s things that we can do to slow the spread,” Gottlieb said. “A national mask mandate could be put in place. It doesn’t need to be backed up with fines or stringent enforcement."

He also suggested targeted mitigation, closing down settings where it is known the virus is spreading.

Gottlieb also pushed back on the administration’s promises about a swift rollout of a vaccine. Gottlieb, a board member of Pfizer, said that even if a vaccine becomes available this year and is administered to health-care workers and the elderly, they will not have protective immunity until 2021.

“This vaccine is not going to affect the contours of what we’re going to go through. That’s going to play out in the next two to three months right now,” he said.

October 25, 2020 at 10:41 AM EDT
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To many Americans, the future looks dark if the other side wins

By Marc Fisher

A psychiatrist examining what has happened to America’s soul chooses for his book cover the iconic image from “Planet of the Apes” — a charred, half-buried wreck of the Statue of Liberty.

A minister who believes America is God’s chosen nation decides that a Biden victory would mean doom, a crushing of the nation’s essence.

And a filmmaker whose work has celebrated the raucous mess of American politics concludes that the reelection of Trump would be “the end of democracy.”

One week before Americans choose their path forward, the quadrennial crossroads reeks of despair.

October 25, 2020 at 10:18 AM EDT
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Tumult at home, ailing alliances abroad: Why Trump’s America has been a ‘gift’ to Putin

By Philip Rucker and Shane Harris

Under Trump, the United States has abandoned international climate and nuclear arms agreements. It has announced its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, questioned the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and antagonized stalwart allies like Germany.

America’s past presidents have long promoted democracy, human rights and the rule of law abroad, yet Trump instead has waged an assault on those values at home, where he has weakened institutions, shredded norms and declared without evidence that the upcoming election will be “rigged.”

America’s moral authority also has been undercut by the devastatingly high death toll and wrenching economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the racial reckoning that has convulsed the country.

These highlights from Trump’s nearly four years in office read like Vladimir Putin’s wish list. Few countries have benefited more geopolitically from Trump’s time in office than Russia.