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The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux 

The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux 
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Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching:

CAN YOU HOLD A CONVENTION IF THE CANDIDATES DON'T COME?

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Joe BidenJoe BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video MORE isn't going to the Democratic Convention in Milwaukee, and President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE may give his acceptance speech from the White House, underscoring how convention season is being rocked by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Democratic National Committee announced Biden would not be taking the trip to Milwaukee and would deliver his acceptance speech from Delaware instead. 

Meanwhile, Trump revealed in an interview with “Fox & Friends” this morning that he was considering delivering his acceptance speech address from the White House. 

Why it matters: 

  • In not going to Milwaukee, Biden is again seeking to show how he's committed to safety and public health guidelines. Biden is asking voters to unseat Trump in large part because of how he's handled the coronavirus crisis.
  • If Trump delivers the speech from the White House, it will be another breach of traditional protocol characteristic of his presidency, further blurring the lines between official U.S. business and politics. 

Other traditions are also likely to be affected.

The Trump campaign on Wednesday requested that the Commission on Presidential Debates add an additional debate to be held the first week of September. The letter asks that the last debate on Oct. 22 be moved up to the first week in September if the commission does not add a fourth debate.

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The Trump campaign’s argument is that the coronavirus has resulted in less exposure for the candidates and that several key states, like Florida and North Carolina, begin voting next month. Voters should be able to hear from the candidates before they cast their ballots, the Trump campaign argued.

Axios first reported that Trump ally and former New York City Mayor Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiMyPillow CEO says boycotts have cost him M Dominion targets MyPillow's Mike Lindell with .3B defamation suit Trump legal troubles may not be over despite Senate acquittal MORE made the request on Wednesday, with suggestions for moderators including Fox’s Bret Baier and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. 

The bottom line is that the Trump campaign knows it is trailing Biden and feels pressure to draw him out, believing more exposure will be bad for the Democratic nominee. They’re also working the refs in an effort to get favorable moderators. — Julia Manchester  

BIDEN’S RED STATE OFFENSIVE

The Biden campaign is going big on ad spending and committing to playing in traditional red states as it seeks to expand the map with 90 days to go before the election. 

Biden’s campaign has laid down $280 million in paid television advertising and digital media reservations across 15 battlegrounds. That’s the largest allocation in campaigns history.

Where Biden is spending

Why it matters:

The Biden campaign believes Trump’s polling weakness gives them an expanded path to 270 electoral votes. In addition to the wider battlegrounds map, they intend to invest in a national ad campaign to take advantage. 

Just today, Monmouth University released a new survey of Iowa

Trump and Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstWe know how Republicans will vote — but what do they believe? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending Overnight Defense: Pentagon says extremist groups 'very aggressively recruit' troops | Capitol Guard deployment estimated at 3M | No US combat deaths in Afghanistan for a year | VA secretary confirmed MORE (R-Iowa) have narrow leads of 3 points each in the Hawkeye State. Trump won by 9 points there in 2016.

Many of the states Trump is defending are also Senate battlegrounds that could determine a majority in the upper chamber.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a top GOP super PAC, announced Wednesday a $21.3 million ad blitz to protect vulnerable Republicans, including Ernst:

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Progressive activist Cori Bush defeated Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayProgressives target Manchin, Sinema with new PAC Cori Bush dismisses concerns of being 'co-opted' by establishment Rep. Bush calls Trump a 'white supremacist president' on House floor MORE (D-Mo.) in a closely watched primary on Tuesday, making him the latest Democratic incumbent to fall to a more liberal challenger this year. Clay, who has represented Missouri’s 1st District for nearly 20 years, joins the likes of Reps. Eliiot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), both of whom lost primaries of their own in recent months to progressive-backed candidates. 

Bush tried and failed to oust Clay in a 2018 primary. But a national outcry over racial injustice combined with the joint health and economic crises surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has served to bolster antiestablishment sentiment among many voters while elevating the voices of progressives who have called for sweeping social and economic reforms. That ultimately helped propel Bush across the finish line on Tuesday. 

Missouri’s 1st District encompasses St. Louis and its immediate suburbs, and is considered a safe Democratic seat, all but assuring that Bush will represent its voters in Washington come 2021. 

The Hill’s Abigail Mihaly and Tal Axelrod have more on Bush’s win here.

Some other highlights from Tuesday: Missouri was only one of five states that held downballot primaries. And while Clay’s ouster was perhaps the biggest news of the night, here are some highlights from the nominating contests in Michigan, Kansas, Arizona and Washington State.

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MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

Come back tomorrow for coverage of more primary elections. Voters head to the polls in Tennessee, where a vicious GOP primary to replace retiring Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Tenn.) will come to a close. Trump-backed candidate Bill Hagerty is trying to hang on against outsider Manny Sethi, who has support from Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary MORE (R-Ky.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Shelby endorses Shalanda Young for OMB director should Biden pull Tanden's nomination MORE (R-Texas).

We’re 12 days away from the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, 19 days from the beginning of the Republican National Convention, 55 days from the first presidential debate and 90 days out from Election Day.