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Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday pledged that if elected he would act immediately on an array of issues, including getting the coronavirus under control and expanding health-care access, as he held two events in Georgia, a state that Republicans have carried in every White House race since 1996.
President Trump staged rallies in three states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, and turned up the volume on his appeals to suburban women, saying he would get their husbands back to work.
With seven days until Election Day …
The running mates of both candidates — Vice President Pence and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) — touched down in battleground states, as did the spouses of both candidates. And former president Barack Obama campaigned for Biden again in Florida.
A page on the Trump campaign’s website was hacked, with its “About” section replaced with a warning.
After weeks of early and mail voting, at least 69 million Americans have already cast their ballots for next week’s election, a historic figure that has upended expectations about Election Day and which states could decide the presidential contest.
Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points nationally, 52 percent to 43 percent, according to an average of national polls since Oct. 12. Biden’s margin in the battleground state of Michigan is nine points. It is eight points in Wisconsin, seven in Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.
Trump campaign website hacked, briefly taken offline
A page on the Trump campaign’s website was hacked, replacing the “About” section with a warning meant to look like the FBI had taken it over and requesting money to reveal compromising information about President Trump and his family.
“The world has had enough of the fake-news spreaded daily by president donald j trump,” the new site read. “It is time to allow the world to know truth.”
The campaign site was briefly taken offline. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh acknowledged that the site had been compromised.
“Earlier this evening, the Trump campaign website was defaced, and we are working with law enforcement authorities to investigate the source of the attack,” he said. “There was no exposure to sensitive data because none of it is actually stored on the site. The website has been restored.”
The hackers claimed that the Trump government is “involved in the origin of the corona virus” and “cooperation with foreign actors manipulating the 2020 election.”
It provided links to send cryptocurrency to have the information revealed, saying that it’s up to “whole world … if they want to know that truth or not.”
An FBI spokeswoman said the agency would not confirm or deny that it is investigating the incident.
Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.
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Analysis: With a week left, Trump modifies his pitch to suburban women: he’ll get their husbands back to work
Someone at some point told President Trump that he isn’t doing well with suburban women and the president very much took it to heart. He started out in late June by promising suburbanites that he would revisit an inscrutable Housing and Urban Development policy that someone else (or perhaps the same someone, who knows) similarly mentioned.
Then he did scale that policy back and, in true Trump-running-for-reelection form, that move became the ne plus ultra of what could be done for the suburbs. Trump has repeatedly claimed that he saved the suburbs, as credible a claim as his insistences that funding historically Black colleges and universities moved him next to Abraham Lincoln on the list of presidents who delivered for Black Americans. Trump does a thing, declares it the best thing and insists no one could do better. It’s his shtick.
But polling still shows that women — and, particularly, college-educated suburban women — plan to vote for his opponent next week. So he’s gotten increasingly direct, explicitly asking, begging those women to like him. To this point, they seem disinclined to do so.
White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien visited two swing states days before the Nov. 3 election, raising concerns about the use of taxpayer-funded official trips for what critics say are thinly-veiled activities designed to boost President Trump in political battleground areas.
O’Brien on Monday made official visits to Minnesota and Wisconsin — two states where Trump has held rallies in recent weeks and hopes to make inroads against his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.
In Minnesota, O’Brien attended a roundtable on mining hosted by a Republican congressman in Hermantown. Both Trump and Vice President Pence have visited the area to underscore their support for copper-nickel mining, which Republicans see as a way of motivating voters in the state’s Iron Range to support the president and down-ballot candidates.
Facebook’s controversial freeze on political ads starts today.
The company won’t accept any new political or issue ads in the final week before Election Day, as part of its broader efforts to limit misinformation. Politicians will be able to continue running ads that they previously purchased until the polls close next week, when the company will temporarily halt all political ads on its service.
The unprecedented measures spurred campaigns to rush to buy up ads to make their closing statements.
Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, shared on her Facebook page unfounded allegations of corruption by Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, the Associated Press reported.
An outspoken conservative and ardent supporter of President Trump, Ginni Thomas has in the past several years taken to sharing conspiracy theories online. A 2018 Washington Post article highlighted some of that activity:
“This month, Ginni Thomas shared a Facebook post that bizarrely described California as a war zone, with illegal immigrants scaling walls and carjacking U.S. citizens. Last month, she shared a post alleging that Democrats committed voter fraud in four midterm races.”
Last week, Thomas shared with her 10,000 followers on Facebook a video clip titled, “The Biden Crime Family: How They Made Their Millions.” Other posts rail against the news media and “the left,” echo Trump’s attacks on Biden’s mental acuity and gin up other conspiracy theories trafficked on right-wing blogs.
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Michigan judge blocks order banning open carry of guns at polling places
A Michigan judge on Tuesday blocked a state directive banning people from openly carrying firearms at polling places, a decision that came amid increasing tensions nationwide ahead of Election Day and fears of intimidation and potential clashes around voting sites.
Michigan officials have pledged to appeal, so the case will likely continue in court during the days ahead of the election.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) had issued the directive earlier this month, saying that guns at a polling place could cause fear of intimidation for voters or election workers. She had banned openly carrying guns at polling places and within 100 feet of the entrance to buildings housing them.
Three gun rights groups challenged her in court, arguing she had acted “without any legal basis or authorization under Michigan law” and improperly linked “mere possession of a firearm and voter intimidation.”
On Tuesday, Judge Christopher M. Murray of the state’s Court of Claims sided with those groups. He wrote that the case was not about whether carrying guns at polling places was a good idea, but instead focused on whether Benson’s guidance violated the Administrative Procedures Act because it “was not promulgated through the act’s procedures.”
The gun groups established a likelihood they would succeed on that front, Murray wrote, adding that the directive was likely “unlawfully issued.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) planned to immediately appeal the decision, her spokesman said.
James Makowski, an attorney for Michigan Gun Owners, one of the groups that challenged Benson’s move, praised the ruling Tuesday, saying in a telephone interview he was “gratified that Judge Murray has confirmed the rule of law still holds in Michigan.”
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Pot candidate who died said he was recruited by GOP; Supreme Court rejects effort to delay that race
Two major developments emerged in a chaotic House race in Minnesota on Tuesday, including that a third-party candidate representing the Legal Marijuana Now Party who died in September told a friend he’d been recruited by Republicans to spoil the race for the incumbent Democrat, according to the Star Tribune.
The sudden death of Adam Weeks triggered a state law that would have delayed that election until February. Democratic Rep. Angie Craig challenged the law and a federal appeals court moved the election back to Nov. 3.
The GOP candidate, Tyler Kistner, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and block the lower court decision, but on Tuesday, the nation’s highest court rejected that bid, meaning the election will go forward next week.
Weeks’s death was ruled an accidental overdose from a toxic combination of ethanol and fentanyl. A friend of his shared with the Star Tribune a voice-mail message from May in which Weeks confided that he’d been asked by GOP operatives to run in the Minnesota 2nd Congressional District race.
“I swear to God to you, I’m not kidding, this is no joke,” Weeks said in the message. “They want me to run as a third-party, liberal candidate, which I’m down. I can play the liberal, you know that.”
Weeks supported conservative policies and candidates and mimicked right-wing attacks on Democrats in social media posts, the Star Tribune reported.
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Wisconsin officials stress need for quick return of mail ballots in wake of Supreme Court ruling
Election officials in Wisconsin are redoubling efforts to convince voters to return their mail ballots as soon as possible after the Supreme Court ruled Monday night that ballots received after Election Day cannot be counted, no matter when they were mailed.
As of Tuesday, voters in the key battleground state had returned more than 1.45 million of the 1.79 million absentee ballots they had requested so far requested — a return rate of more than 80 percent.
But that means that nearly 327,000 absentee ballots had not yet been returned. And voters continue to request ballots — under state law, they have until 5 p.m. Thursday to seek one, a deadline state officials have warned is probably too late for voters to receive and return a ballot by mail before the deadline.
Biden acknowledged the unlikeliness that he’d be campaigning in Georgia so close to Election Day.
“You know, there are a lot of pundits who wouldn’t have guessed four years ago that a Democratic candidate for president in 2020 would be campaigning in Georgia in the final week of the election, or that we’d have such competitive Senate races in Georgia,” Biden said. “But we do because something’s happening here in Georgia and across America.”
Biden and Trump are in a virtual dead heat in the state, according to recent polling. Biden said people would have looked at you like you were crazy if you’d told them that the Democrats had a shot at winning two Senate seats and the presidency in the traditionally red state, but said it’s because people have figured Trump out.
“You know, when the carny show goes through town the first time and people find out there’s no pea under any one of the three shells, the next time it comes back, it doesn’t get much attention,” Biden said in quintessential Biden speak. “Well, that’s what the Trump administration has done.”
The former vice president hit the current president over his handling of the coronavirus, saying that instead of coming up with a unified national response, Trump was “either locked in a sand trap on his golf course or in a bunker in the White House."
He closed by saying, “We win Georgia, we win everything.”
Analysis: Where the race stands entering the final week
The traditional phrasing of presidential election polling asks that respondents assume the election is happening that day: If the election were today, how would you vote? In 2020, more than in any prior year, that question might be taken literally. On each day of the past two weeks, an average of 3.7 million additional votes have been cast by early voters or received by county election boards. Voters are voting today — and, according to polls and as can be inferred from partisan splits, largely against President Trump.
But that’s simply one pool of voters. There’s still a week in which voters can cast ballots, and there’s still Nov. 3, Election Day itself, when many Trump supporters have indicated they plan to cast a ballot in person.
Lingering over all of this is the specter of 2016, when robust leads for Hillary Clinton evaporated in the way that a Hemingway character goes bankrupt: gradually and then suddenly. Over the last few weeks of that contest, Clinton’s leads in key states narrowed and narrowed, a function of undecided voters breaking for Trump. On Election Day itself, an unexpected level of support for Trump shifted the final tallies in several states significantly to the Republican’s advantage, enough to win him the presidency.
Biden and Harris on Tuesday denounced the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia and also called for an end to the violence and looting that occurred during some of the protests that unfolded in the city Monday night.
The Philadelphia Police Department said two officers shot Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man, several times Monday afternoon after he refused to drop a knife as his mother followed closely behind, trying to restrain him.
Wallace’s family said he was suffering a mental health crisis. They and local activists pointed to cellphone video of the shooting, asking why officers didn’t use less lethal weapons to try to subdue him.
“Our hearts are broken for the family of Walter Wallace Jr., and for all those suffering the emotional weight of learning about another Black life in America lost,” Biden and Harris said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “We cannot accept that in this country a mental health crisis ends in death. It makes the shock and grief and violence of yesterday’s shooting that much more painful, especially for a community that has already endured so much trauma.”
In the statement, Biden and Harris said that Wallace’s life, “like too many others, was a Black life that mattered.” But they also condemned the violence and looting that have taken place in Philadelphia over the past day, declaring that “no amount of anger at the very real injustices in our society excuses violence.”
“Attacking police officers and vandalizing small businesses, which are already struggling during a pandemic, does not bend the moral arc of the universe closer to justice. It hurts our fellow citizens,” they said. “Looting is not a protest, it is a crime. It draws attention away from the real tragedy of a life cut short.”
In the hours after the shooting, about 300 protesters gathered in the streets, facing down officers in riot gear who pushed them back with shields and batons. As the night wore on, multiple businesses were looted, a police vehicle was set ablaze, and at least 12 officers were injured, including one who was hospitalized with a broken leg after being struck by a truck, WTXF reported early Tuesday.
Biden and Harris also took a swipe at Trump in their statement, arguing that all the president does “is fan the flames of division in our society.”
“He is incapable of doing the real work to bring people together. We will,” they said. “We are all praying for the entire Wallace family, and for our nation, that we may move toward healing.”
Trump, in Michigan, casts doubt on Whitmer kidnapping plot
Campaigning in Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday, Trump criticized Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) as “a disaster” over her strict measures to control the coronavirus pandemic and appeared to cast doubt on whether an alleged kidnapping plot against her was real.
Trump suggested Whitmer should be grateful to him because federal authorities foiled the alleged plot, which led to federal and state charges against 14 men this month.
“We’ve got to get her going, I don’t know,” Trump said to applause. “We’ve got to get her going,” Trump repeated. “I don’t think she likes me very much,” he added.
The crowd then erupted in chants of “Lock her up,” as Trump stood by.
He later alluded to what authorities said was a kidnapping plot that involved men who accused the governor of overstepping her authority with strict pandemic-control measures.
“I don’t think she likes me too much,” he said, “Hey, hey, hey, hey, I’m the one, it was our people that helped her out with her problem,” Trump said to cheers at an outdoor rally. “And we’ll wait to see if it is a problem, right? People are entitled to say, ‘Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t,’” Trump said.
“It was our people, my people, our people, that helped her out. And then she blamed me for it.”
‘In many ways, I hate it,’ Trump says of widespread coronavirus testing
At the first of three campaign events Tuesday, Trump dismissed the worsening coronavirus pandemic in the United States, telling a crowd in Lansing, Mich., that the number of cases is rising only because more Americans are being tested.
“In many ways, I hate it,” Trump said of widespread coronavirus testing. He blamed the current spike in cases on the broader availability of testing — even though hospitalizations have been on the rise as well.
The president’s remarks echoed a tweet he sent Monday, in which he called the worsening pandemic “A Fake News Media Conspiracy.”
At his rally Tuesday, Trump also sharply criticized Harris, telling his supporters that she “makes Bernie Sanders look like a serious conservative” and reminding supporters that Harris would be next in line for the presidency should a President Biden somehow become incapacitated.
“Three weeks in — Joe’s shot, let’s go, Kamala, you ready? Most liberal person in the Senate,” Trump said.
GOP Rep. Mike Kelly appears to mock Biden’s stutter on Trump campaign call
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) appeared to mock Joe Biden’s stutter during a campaign call for President Trump.
In his opening comments during a conference call that was mostly about Pennsylvania, Kelly discussed the former vice president’s stance on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, one key component of the economy and culture in his western Pennsylvanian district.
“He’s been against fracking since the beginning of this primary season. He’s pledged that he would eliminate — he kind of stumbled. ‘I-I — we-we-we, we’ll work it out, we’ll work it out, we’ll work it out,'” Kelly said.
The call comes days after the last presidential debate, where Biden said he would “transition from the oil industry” to tackle climate change and asserted he has never said he opposed fracking.
In a statement in response to a question about his remarks, the congressman said Biden “struggled to articulate an energy plan because he doesn’t have one."
“But since we’re talking about mental acuity, Biden said publicly that he’s happy to have a debate comparing his and President Trump’s, so let’s have that discussion,” Kelly added.
Biden grew up with a stutter, a speech disorder that affects more than 70 million people worldwide and about 3 million people in the United States. He often talks about his experience with bullying and told the Atlantic’s John Hendrickson this year about a nun who called him “Mr. Buh-Buh-Buh-Biden” in front of his seventh-grade class.
Kelly, 72, also appeared to make fun of the 77-year-old Democratic presidential nominee’s age.
“I used to get mad when I hear him talk, and now I’m thinking to myself this is a guy that we need to be able to visit. But whatever you do, don’t listen to him,” Kelly said of Biden. “Let him going ahead and mumble and bumble, whatever he wants, go say hi to him, drop off some tapioca or some other pudding, let him make his way through that.”
Older voters, a demographic that Trump, now 74, carried four years ago, appear to be moving away from the president, and he has faced criticism over his handling of the pandemic, which has been especially deadly for senior citizens.