The Hill’s Campaign Report: Trump faces backlash after not committing to peaceful transition of power
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 today on the campaign trail:
LEADING THE DAY:
Washington is on edge after President Trump declined to commit to a peaceful transition of power in the event that he loses his reelection bid.
The comments drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans, arguing that a peaceful transition of power has been a hallmark of democracy in the U.S.
Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the latest lawmaker to push back on Trump’s remarks, saying in an address from George Washington University that November’s election would be a contest between Trump and democracy, itself.
He even quoted conservative icon and former President Ronald Reagan, citing his promise to protect “orderly transfer of authority.”
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Senate and House Republicans were on cleanup duty after Trump’s remarks.
“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a tweet.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was left to answer for the president’s remarks in the press briefing on Thursday, where she said that Trump will accept the results of a “free and fair election.”
But the most dramatic images of the day came from the steps of the Supreme Court, where Trump and first lady Melania Trump were booed while they paid their respects to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
As the pair stood silent and solemnly besides the casket, boos and chants of “vote him out” and “honor her wish,” referring to Ginsburg reportedly telling her granddaughter that her final wish was for the next president to fill her vacancy.
Trump called it a “political chant” and said he could barely hear it.
Speaking of the Supreme Court… don’t expect the news cycle to die down anytime soon. Trump is expected to announce his nominee to replace Ginsburg on Saturday.
A flurry of new polls have come out today. We’ll help you try to make sense of these:
National: A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds Biden leading by 5 points nationally, down from a 10-point margin only two weeks ago. That’s obviously very good news for Trump, although we’ll need to see a few more of these before we call it a trend. Biden leads by 7 points nationally in the RealClearPolitics average, and it would be almost impossible for Trump to lose the popular vote by that margin and still win the Electoral College.
States Trump must win: New surveys show Biden running strong in states Trump won easily in 2016, which is alarming news for Republicans. A new Quinnipiac University survey finds the race is deadlocked in Ohio, which Trump won by 9 points in 2016. The poll found Trump leading by 5 points in Texas, while a New York Times-Siena College poll put Trump’s advantage at 3 points in the Lone Star State. In Iowa, which Trump won by 8 points in 2016, the New York Times poll found Biden ahead by 3 points, although Monmouth University found Trump ahead by 6 points in the Hawkeye State. The New York Times-Siena College poll found the candidates tied in Georgia, which hasn’t gone for the Democratic nominee since 1992.
Core battlegrounds: A new Franklin & Marshall survey of Pennsylvania put Biden’s lead at 9 points among all registered voters, up from 7 points last month. The race tightens to a 6-point Biden advantage among likely voters. New surveys from the University of Wisconsin-Madison find Biden leading in Michigan (+8), Pennsylvania (+5) and Wisconsin (+5) among registered voters.
The bottom line: Biden has a wide path to victory but tightening polls in Florida and Arizona are something watch. The Democratic nominee has had a stable lead for months nationally and in the former “blue wall” states. Biden is competitive in traditionally red states, like Texas and Georgia, and in states Trump won easily in 2016, such as Iowa and Ohio. Trump badly needs to win Florida, Arizona and North Carolina, where polls show the race getting closer. But Biden still looks like the favorite in Arizona. Florida and North Carolina look like tossups.
BATTLE FOR THE SENATE:
A major trade group representing credit unions is launching a $7 million dollar spending campaign in support of congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle. The beneficiaries, according to The Hill’s Alex Gangitano, are Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).
Meanwhile, another vulnerable GOP senator, Lindsey Graham (S.C.), is sounding the alarm about his opponent’s fundraising.
“I’m being killed financially,” Graham said on Fox News Channel. “This money is because they hate my guts.”
Democrat Jaime Harrison has raised $28 million as of the last Federal Election Commission filings in June, compared to $29 million for Graham. But the money has been rolling in for the Democrat, who says he raised $6 million in the 72 hours after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.