The Hill's Campaign Report: Debate fallout l Trump clarifies remarks on Proud Boys l Down to the wire in South Carolina

The Hill's Campaign Report: Debate fallout l Trump clarifies remarks on Proud Boys l Down to the wire in South Carolina

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:



Republicans are looking back on the first presidential debate last night with two things on their minds about President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE’s performance: He missed opportunities to take down Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE, and he needlessly ignited another racial controversy with just over one month to go until Election Day.

The White House spent the day on defense over Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists. Aides were sent on television to explain away what Trump meant when he said the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by.”

Every GOP lawmaker walking the halls of Congress was asked about it.

Late in the day, Trump clarified his remarks, saying the extremist group should “stand down.”

"I don't know who the Proud Boys are," Trump said. "I can only say they have to stand down. Let law enforcement do their work."

Those remarks came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell says 'no concerns' after questions about health Overnight Health Care: Trump says he hopes Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare | FDA approves remdesivir as COVID-19 treatment | Dems threaten to subpoena HHS over allegations of political interference at CDC The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottFrom HBCUs to Capitol Hill: How Congress can play an important role Democrats unveil bill to reduce police violence against people with mental illness Liberals should embrace Trump's Supreme Court nominee MORE (R-S.C.), one of only two Black Republicans in Congress, called on Trump to explain himself.


Separately, Republicans lamented what they viewed as Trump missing a golden opportunity to make gains with the women and independents the president will need if he hopes to win a second term.

Trump will try to get his groove back tonight at a rally in Minnesota, one of a handful of traditionally blue states the president is seeking to flip in 2020.

“Biden, especially in the first half of the debate, looked weak and it seemed that all the things Democrats worried about might come true,” said Amy Koch, a Republican and the former majority leader in the Minnesota state Senate. “But then Trump just overwhelmed and it was too much…He did nothing to improve his standing with independents, women or suburban voters. In fact, he may have gone backwards with disaffected Republicans."

Elsewhere, the Commission on Presidential Debates is considering changes after last night’s debate devolved into chaos and crosstalk.

“The Commission on Presidential Debates sponsors televised debates for the benefit of the American electorate,” the commission said in a statement. “Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues. The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.” 

Biden said he wanted to see changes to ensure only one person could speak at a time.

“I just hope there’s a way in which the debate commission can control the ability of us to answer the question without interruption,” he said. “I’m not going to speculate what happens in the second or third debate. My hope is they’re able to literally — say the question is asked of Trump, here’s a microphone, he has two minutes to answer the question. No one else has the microphone.”


Republicans fret over Trump’s self inflicted wounds at first debate, by Jonathan Easley and Morgan Chalfant.

Trump says Proud Boys should ‘stand down’ after blowback, by Brett Samuels.

Debates panel says changes under consideration, by Tal Axelrod.

McConnell says it was ‘unacceptable’ not to condemn white supremacy, by Alexander Bolton.


Biden’s campaign has reserved more than a quarter billion dollars in advertising in 18 swing states over the next five weeks, while outside groups supporting the former vice president have reserved an additional $112 million. By comparison, Trump’s campaign has booked $130 million worth of ads in 13 states in the coming weeks. Outside GOP groups have reserved $39 million in air time.

All told, groups supporting Biden have booked $360 million in late air time, while Trump and his supporters only come in at about $170 million.

Republicans are waving off the Democrats’ spending spree, however, arguing that their door-knocking and phone-banking efforts are more effective and put them in position to trounce Biden and the Democrats come November.

The Hill’s Reid Wilson has more here.



A new batch of polling is out from Quinnipiac University.

Trump and Biden are statistically tied in South Carolina, with the president taking 48 percent of the vote to Biden’s 47 percent. That’s a big change from two weeks ago when Trump held a 6-point advantage in the state. Biden’s favorability, meanwhile, is just above water at 49-46 percent, while Trump breaks even at 48-48 percent.

In South Carolina’s closely watched Senate race, Democrat Jaime Harrison and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHarrison says campaign had to spend record M haul 'to get this thing to toss-up status' BlackPAC rolls out Senate race endorsements for the first time The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by the Walton Family Foundation — Sights and sounds outside the Amy Coney Barrett vote MORE (R-S.C.) are running in a dead heat at 48-48 percent. But 49 percent of voters want to see Republicans win control of the Senate, while 44 percent of voters say they want Democrats to control the chamber.

Jonathan has more on Quinnipiac’s South Carolina poll here.

And in Michigan, a new poll from ALG Research finds Biden leading Trump by 8 points, 52 to 44. Nearly two-thirds of voters give Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerTrump says he doesn't actually want Whitmer, Biden and Obama to be locked up despite chants The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' MORE (D) positive marks on the job she’s doing overall and on the coronavirus pandemic. Sixty percent of voters give Trump negative marks on the coronavirus pandemic.