Trump implores Nebraskans and Iowans to “get the hell out and vote”
“Hello Omaha! And hello Iowa,” President Trump greeted a crowd he claimed numbered 29,000 strong in 34-degree weather. He spoke for just 45 minutes, but had a clear message for voters.
“I’m standing here, freezing,” he said in Omaha, which sits on the western border of Iowa. “I ask you one little favor — get the hell out and vote.”
“Right now it’s COVID, COVID, COVID, no matter what happens,” Trump told crowds of primarily mask-free supporters, adding, “we’re rounding that beautiful turn.”
But Nebraska saw its fourth straight week of record cases, and Iowa has broken its case high record 11 times this month alone.
“Thanks to our relentless efforts, 97% of all current emergency room visits are for something other than the virus,” Mr. Trump said. “Think of that — 97% — we’re in great shape.”
“Areas in the Midwest, certain areas that are heated up right now, they’ll go down,” he promised. “They’ll go down very quickly. They’ll be down within two weeks they’re figuring. They’ll go down, just like they did in Florida, Texas, Arizona and so many others.”
Mr. Trump mocked Biden’s pandemic precautions and smaller gatherings, and knocked “President Barack Hussein Obama” for his audience of “12 people and cars.”
As for his election prospects, Mr. Trump predicted “I think we’re going to win everything,” despite what he referred to as “the whole ballot hoax.”
According to a senior campaign official, President Trump plans to travel to 10 states during this week this week, and in the final 48 hours of the campaign, he’ll also be hosting 11 rallies.
First lady visits Pennsylvania in first solo campaign trip of 2020
First lady Melania Trump visited Pennsylvania on Tuesday, her first solo campaign trip of 2020. In her remarks, she scolded Democrats for politicizing the coronavirus and raising concerns about vaccine development. Mrs. Trump tested positive for the virus at the beginning of October, as did the president and their son, Barron.
“This is something that both political parties should support, encourage, and celebrate. No one should be promoting fear of real solutions for purely political ends,” Mrs. Trump said at the event in Atglen, a borough in Chester County west of Philadelphia.
She also said Democrats were more focused on a “sham impeachment” than the well-being of Americans in February, during the early days of the pandemic.
The first lady echoed her husband in her criticism of the press. She said that after Mr. Trump won the presidency, the media created a version of him that was “unrecognizable.” She added that the news is being driven by “handpicked, angry, and often baseless claims from anonymous sources or angry ex-employees who are only trying to distract from the important work happening inside the White House.”
She urged people to vote, and warned that “Joe Biden’s policies and socialist agenda will only serve to destroy America and all that has been built in the past four years.”
Sara Cook and Grace Segers
Pence heralds economic comeback in North Carolina speech
Vice President Mike Pence wrapped his first of two rallies in North Carolina, a state that he said “always plays an outsized role in the choice of our national leadership,” especially this year.
Pence spent a good amount of his speech talking about the economy. He focused on manufacturing jobs, support for farmers and ranchers, and lauded the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as a great deal for North Carolina and America. He said Senator Kamala Harris put her own climate agenda ahead of the workers of North Carolina by voting against the USMCA.
Pence also talked about the third quarter GDP numbers that are expected to be released on Thursday.
“I don’t know what they are, but buckle up,” Pence said about the GDP numbers. “You’re going to see American resilience like you have never seen before.” While Pence mentioned the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank estimated a 35% increase in the GDP for this quarter, economists are warning that the flash numbers could be misleading in the middle of the pandemic.
“This economy, you’re going to see it this week, it is coming back,” Pence said. “But the choice is between a Trump recovery and a Biden depression.”
Pence also talked about the courts and law and order. He said those like the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett are “paving the way for opportunities for women in the law.” Pence also called Barrett “a brilliant jurist” who is “reflective of all the men and women that this president appointed.”
He also attacked Biden for not giving a clear answer on his position on adding additional justices to the Supreme Court. Pence said Biden needs to tell the American people if he respects the highest court in the land, and that Democrats will pack the court with activist judges if they win the election.
Pence briefly talked about the coronavirus towards the end of his speech. He said despite the pandemic, the foundation Mr. Trump poured in the first three years is leading to the economic comeback. Pence told supporters that the president “led us with decisiveness through one of the most challenging years of my lifetime.” He urged everyone to go vote and tell their friends and family that “freedom is really on the line.”
In Georgia, Biden invokes FDR in call for national unity
In his first of two events of the day, Biden spoke from a resort on a mountaintop in Warm Springs, Georgia, close to where President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought treatment for polio and maintained a private retreat during his time in the White House.
Biden selected the location “to talk about the need to heal our nation,” according to his prepared remarks, and reflected on three intertwining crises: the health crisis caused by the coronavirus, the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic and the months of protests over racial injustice.
“These are all historic, painful crises. The insidious virus. Economic anguish Systemic discrimination. Any one of them could have rocked a nation,” he said. “Yet we’ve been hit by all three at once. But if we’re honest with ourselves, the pain striking at the heart of our country goes back not months, but years.”
Biden acknowledged the “divisions in our country are getting wider,” but struck an optimistic note.
“I tell you this from my heart. I believe in an America of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of love, not hate,” he said.
The Democratic nominee also criticized White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who said on Sunday that the U.S. is “not going to control the pandemic.” Biden called his comments a “capitulation, a waving of the white flag.”
“It’s a window into a shocking truth about this White House. They never even tried,” he continued. “I’m here to tell you we can and will get control of this virus. As president, I will never wave the white flag of surrender.”
Biden said he selected Warm Springs because it’s “a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed. That as a people and a country, we can overcome a devastating virus. That we can heal a suffering world. That yes, we can restore our soul and save our country.”
Campaigning in Florida, Obama says Trump is “jealous of COVID’s media coverage”
Mr. Obama returned to the campaign trail Tuesday, urging voters in the crucial battleground state of Florida to support his former vice president and casting Mr. Trump as an attention-seeker who has turned the White House into a coronavirus hot-spot.
Mr. Obama held a drive-in rally in Orlando, during which he urged Florida voters to come up with a plan to cast their ballots early. Early voting in the Sunshine State began October 24 and lasts until October 31.
“This election requires every single one of us, and what we do this week will matter for decades to come,” Mr. Obama said amid honks from supporters in attendance.
The former president chastised Mr. Trump for failing to take the presidency seriously and lamented that the American people have “had to live with the consequences.” Painting the president as media hungry, Mr. Obama joked that Mr. Trump is “jealous of COVID’s media coverage” and failed to even prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the White House.
“I lived in the White House for awhile,” Mr. Obama said. “You know, it’s a controlled environment. You can take some preventive measures in the White House to avoid getting sick. Except this guy can’t seem to do it. He’s turned the White House into a hot zone.”
The current president, Mr. Obama said, “hasn’t shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself and his friends or treating the presidency as anything more than a reality show that can give him the attention that he craves.”
Read more here.
Local Pennsylvania elections board asks Barrett to recuse herself from Supreme Court case
A local Pennsylvania board of elections Tuesday filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that Justice Amy Coney Barrett recuse herself from consideration of a case over a ballot extension in the state.
The Board of Elections in Luzerne County, a key battleground county that includes Wilkes-Barre, argued in a motion that Mr. Trump’s latest confirmed Supreme Court justice is required by the Judicial Code to recuse herself from the case because her “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” They additionally argue that no one may choose their own judge.
The Supreme Court last week voted 4-4 to reject a request by Pennsylvania Republicans to halt an order from the state’s high court that extended the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots by three days. The Pennsylvania GOP later that week went back to the court, asking for a ruling on whether the state court’s ruling was constitutional. Previously they had only asked for it to be stopped until the justices ruled.
The case has major implications for both parties, as more than twice as many Democrats as Republicans have applied to vote by mail. In the state’s primary, more than 100,000 mail ballots came in after Election Day, and that number is expected to be much higher in the general election. In 2016, Mr. Trump won the state by about 44,000 votes.
Barrett takes judicial oath, clearing way for work to begin
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the judicial oath to Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday morning, allowing her to officially begin work as the newest member of the nation’s highest court.
Barrett, 48, took the judicial oath at a private ceremony in the East Conference Room at the Supreme Court that was attended by the other sitting justices, as well as retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Justice Stephen Breyer participated by phone from his house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the court said. Also in attendance were Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, and Ashley Kavanaugh, wife of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The Senate confirmed Barrett to the Supreme Court in a near party-line vote Monday night, and Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional oath, which is given to all federal officials, during a ceremony at the White House shortly after the proceedings on Capitol Hill ended.
Barrett joins the court just a week before Election Day and as it is considering two requests from Pennsylvania and North Carolina to move up the deadlines for voters in the battleground states to return their absentee ballots. The justices are also weighing an emergency application from Mr. Trump to once again block a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney for troves of his business records, including his tax returns.
Barrett will join the justices for their private conference Friday and begin participating in oral arguments, which resume for the November sitting, Monday.
1 million absentee ballots remain outstanding in Michigan
About 1 million absentee ballots that have been issued in Michigan have not yet been returned, the secretary of state’s office said in a call with reporters on Tuesday. Roughly 3.1 million people have requested absentee ballots and 2.1 million valid ballots have been returned at this point.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said voters who have not yet returned ballots should do so in-person instead of by mail to ensure they’re counted. Voters can return absentee ballots at drop boxes, clerk’s offices or satellite locations. The deadline for returning ballots is 8 p.m. on Election Day.
“We are too close to Election Day, and the right to vote is too important, to rely on the Postal Service to deliver absentee ballots on time,” Benson said in a statement, directing voters to the state’s website to find locations for dropping off ballots. “Citizens who already have an absentee ballot should sign the back of the envelope and hand-deliver it to their city or township clerk’s office or ballot drop box as soon as possible. Voters who haven’t yet received their ballot should go to their clerk’s office to request it in person. They can fill it out, sign the envelope and submit it all in one trip.”
Where Biden and Trump are speaking on Tuesday
Here’s the rundown of events for both candidates on Tuesday:
- 1:30 p.m.: Remarks in Warm Springs, Georgia, about “bringing Americans together to address the crises facing our nation”
- 5 p.m.: Drive-in event in Atlanta to encourage Americans to make a plan to vote
- 2:30 p.m.: Rally in Lansing, Michigan
- 4:45 p.m.: Rally in West Salem, Wisconsin
- 8 p.m.: Rally in Omaha, Nebraska
Supreme Court rules Wisconsin ballots must be received by Election Day
The Supreme Court on Monday night voted against reinstating an order by a Wisconsin federal court judge that said absentee ballots could be counted if received within six days after the election as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. The final vote was 5-3.
The ruling came down as the Senate voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as the newest justice to the Supreme Court, solidifying the conservative majority to 6-3.
Wisconsin is one of about 30 states that require absentee ballots be received by Election Day to be counted. A federal district judge previously concluded the deadline violated Wisconsin voters’ rights in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and agreed to extend it by six days, until November 9.
In Monday’s order, a majority of the justices agreed with the appeals court, with John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh writing separately to emphasize that federal courts should not be making last-minute changes to state election rules.
Monday’s decision is in line with previous Supreme Court orders during the pandemic. The conservatives generally reject efforts by lower court judges to change election rules or extend deadlines in the run up to the election, saying such decisions are for state election officials and legislatures.
Read more here.
Jan Crawford and Adam Brewster
Window closing to return absentee ballots by mail
With Election Day now seven days away and the U.S. Postal Service still beset by delivery delays, the opportunity for voters to return their ballots by mail is slipping away.
The Postal Service urges voters choosing to mail in their completed ballots to do so “at least one week prior to your state’s deadline,” which for many states is Election Day, November 3.
States are preparing for an influx of mail-in ballots as officials have sought to make it easier for voters to cast their ballots by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the changes to voting policies have led to last-minute court challenges and rulings.
Adding to the chaos is continuing slowdowns in delivery of first-class mail. In service performance data provided to House and Senate committees for the week of October 10 through October 16, the Postal Service said 85.58% of first-class mail was delivered on time, a 0.57% decrease from the prior week, and 97.81% was delivered within two days of the service standard.
Michigan Senator Gary Peters, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, revealed Friday that on-time first-class mail performance was below 80% in 10 districts nationwide, including in areas of crucial battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.
With the days before the election ticking down, many election officials are encouraging voters to return their ballot either in-person or to drop boxes to ensure it is counted.
Cara Korte and Melissa Quinn
Amy Coney Barrett sworn in as Supreme Court justice
The Senate confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, just days before Election Day, solidifying the conservative majority on the court as it is set to consider several high-profile cases in the coming months. She was sworn in shortly thereafter by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas at the White House.
Barrett was confirmed by a vote of 52-48 on Monday evening, after Democrats exhausted the procedural maneuvers undertaken to delay her confirmation. Only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins, voted against confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Barrett’s confirmation has left Democrats concerned about the fate of the nation’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act, and Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision allowing women to have access to abortions. The court will hear a case on the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate in November. Barrett could also end up weighing in on a general election-related case involving the man who nominated her, should the results of the race come before the Supreme Court.
Read more here.