The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Goldman Sachs – Two weeks out, Trump attempts to rally the base
Presented by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices
Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday! Fourteen days until Election Day. We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators, and readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 219,674; Tuesday, 220,133.
With a fortnight to go until Election Day, we may repeat some morning headlines this week.
Here’s the state of play: Voters are without a doubt engaged in the presidential race. President Trump’s fan base is with him. The question is whether enough of his supporters will make the difference this time in states that count. The anti-Trump movement is bigger than the president’s base, and while battleground polls are tightening, Democratic nominee Joe Biden appears to be holding a lead.
During a call with campaign staff members ahead of two Arizona rallies on Monday, Trump tried to quiet the talk about defeat (while asking reporters to listen in). He told his team it was “the best single day I’ve ever felt in the campaign. … We’re way up. We’re doing really well. I just want to project that to you.”
The Hill: Trump tells campaign staffers to ignore reports about the presidential race: “We’re going to win.”
Reuters: Trump cut into Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania; Democratic nominee maintained a solid lead in Wisconsin, according to Reuters/Ipsos polls released Monday.
As The Hill’s Brett Samuels reports, Trump’s scorched-earth style overshadows his campaign’s message during these final weeks.
Trump’s team would like the incumbent to right his ship in the final two weeks by campaigning with discipline to voters he might still win over rather than hamming it up for MAGA supporters he’s already wowed. Hopes he might shift away from grievances and distractions to talk about the economy and a second-term agenda were not met on Monday.
The president campaigns with first lady Melania Trump in Erie, Pa., today (The New York Times) and in Gastonia, N.C., on Wednesday before squaring off against Biden on a debate stage on Thursday.
Campaign manager Bill Stepien wrote to the Commission on Presidential Debates on Monday to complain about announced topics for the final debate in Nashville, which he argued should focus on foreign rather than domestic policy.
At the same time, Trump lashed out at Anthony Fauci, the popular federal virologist, who was interviewed by CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday night about the president’s risky behavior before contracting COVID-19 last month. The president called him “a disaster” and referred to federal infectious disease experts as “all these idiots” (The Hill). On Twitter, Trump continued to skewer Fauci for getting “more airtime than anybody since the late, great Bob Hope,” and for throwing out “perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!”
Retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Health panel, came to Fauci’s quick defense, lining up as yet another Republican driving in reverse away from the head of the party (The Hill).
Trump also blew up at two reporters on Monday during a press scrum, calling one a “criminal” for not reporting as the president would have preferred about Hunter Biden (Mediaite has the video). And at an Arizona rally, Trump said Biden was fortunate the attorney general is William Barr, “because I know people that would have had him locked up five weeks ago” (The Washington Times).
The Associated Press: “Running angry,” Trump attacks Fauci, press, polls.
The Hill: ExxonMobil repudiated Trump’s boast on Monday that he could call the company’s CEO to raise millions of dollars for his campaign to defeat Biden. “Just so we’re all clear, it never happened,” the company tweeted in response to the president’s mock telephone conversation in front of a rally audience.
In comparison with Trump’s many dramas, writes Niall Stanage in his latest Memo, the former vice president has plotted a slow and steady course toward the White House during a third career bid for the presidency. In both the primaries and the early stages of the general election, Biden was derided by progressives and pundits as a retro creature of Washington and uninspiring. But his traditional, centrist approach — including reassuring middle-class voters that he is not a tax-hiking socialist — appears to be working.
Biden, who is ahead in polls, fundraising and advertising in swing states, will not be on the campaign trail early this week so he can be ready for Thursday’s debate. The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Jonathan Easley report on his strategy for that final showdown in front of a large TV audience at a juncture when approximately 36 million Americans are expected to have cast their votes (U.S. Elections Project).
The Nashville debate will include a microphone change that will mute each candidate for two minutes during his opponents’ statement before back-and-forth exchanges begin. The change is being made because during the first debate on Sept. 29, Trump interrupted Biden 71 times and the former vice president interrupted the president 22 times (The New York Times, The Hill and The Washington Post).
Tim Alberta, Politico Magazine: Two more hunches about 2020 (if Trump loses, white college-educated male voters will be part of a shift away from Trump and the president’s unlikeability is nudging voters to choose the alternative).
The Associated Press: How Trump’s campaign plowed through $1 billion, losing its cash advantage.
The New York Times: The big role that big donors still play, quietly, for Joe Biden.
Presented by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices
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LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS: White House and congressional negotiators are barreling toward a deadline later today to strike a deal on a coronavirus relief package, with the Trump administration and Democrats attempting to bridge differences after months of talks.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke at length again on Monday and “continued to narrow their differences,” according to a Pelosi spokesman.
“The Speaker has tasked committee chairs to reconcile differences with their GOP counterparts on key areas,” said Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesman, in a statement. “The Speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election.”
Pelosi and Mnuchin are expected to talk again on Tuesday, with the Treasury secretary in the Middle East to lead the U.S.-Israeli delegation to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
However, no matter if the two strike a deal that has remained elusive for three months, it remains an open question whether the Senate would even bring up a massive coronavirus relief package if the price tag stays in the same sphere. Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican, casted doubt on whether 13 Senate Republicans would be supportive of a deal with a price tag of at least $1.8 trillion — the total cost of the administration’s latest offer.
“It would be hard,” Thune told The Hill’s Jordain Carney.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows echoed those remarks earlier Monday, telling reporters that the Senate GOP has been “very vocal in terms of their lack of support” for a package of that largesse. However, he still believes that some would come around and vote in favor if a package hits the Senate floor.
“There are some in the Senate that would support it. Whether there are enough votes to get to the 60-vote threshold, that’s up to Leader McConnell,” Meadows said.
Last week, Trump insisted during an NBC town hall that Senate Republicans would be with him if a deal gets done, telling moderator Savannah Guthrie that they haven’t jumped on board yet because, “I haven’t asked them to.”
“If we agree to something, the Republicans will agree to it,” he added.
The Hill: Sides tiptoe toward a COVID-19 deal, but breakthrough appears distant.
The Washington Post: Trump, Pelosi exchange attacks as stimulus deal remains elusive.
While Pelosi and Mnuchin work to hammer out a deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is making a push to unify his conference during the final two weeks before Election Day, having teed up a pair of votes as the headlining acts leading up to Nov. 3. Namely, a vote next week on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and one on Wednesday on a $500 billion targeted COVID-19 stimulus package, which would include another round of funds for the Paycheck Protection Program among other items.
As The Hill’s Jordain Carney notes, the two votes will give vulnerable GOP incumbents two talking points as they try to shift to offense amid increasingly public divisions with the White House and the president.
The Hill: GOP blocks Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) effort to adjourn chamber until after election.
The Hill: Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) Senate Republicans offer constitutional amendment to block Supreme Court packing.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
MORE POLITICS: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) made her return to the campaign trail on Monday with a pair of stops in Florida to mark the beginning of early voting in the Sunshine State, a contest that remains up for grabs and could help decide control of the White House.
Harris, who had largely headlined events featuring small groups or over Zoom, appeared before more than 100 at a drive-in rally in Orlando before moving on to Jacksonville to headline a second event to push voters to the polls.
As The Hill’s Julia Manchester writes, Harris’s foray into the key battleground state highlighted the mobilization efforts two weeks out from Election Day, with Trump trying to repeat his 2016 victory, having changed his residency from New York to Florida earlier in the campaign cycle.
While Democrats have been riding a wave of mail-in voting and encouraging their supporters to vote remotely, Florida Republicans are hoping to see their voters turn out en masse to vote in-person. Vice President Pence is headed to Jacksonville and Tallahassee — two key GOP constituencies in the state — this weekend.
The Washington Post: Opening day of early voting in Florida draws thousands of voters.
The Hill: Florida breaks first-day early voting record with 350K ballots cast.
The Associated Press: Supreme Court allows three-day extension for Pennsylvania ballots.
Before his Florida swing, the vice president is slated to headline campaign rallies on Wednesday in Portsmouth, N.H., a state the president lost by 2 points in 2016, and Cincinnati.
As for Harris, she will hold a virtual event on Tuesday to highlight the start of early voting in Wisconsin before returning to in-person events on Wednesday in Asheville, N.C., and Charlotte, N.C.
Politico: Party-switcher Barbara Bollier puts Kansas Senate seat in play for Democrats.
The Hill: Calls grow for Democrats to ramp up spending in Texas.
Reid Wilson, The Hill: Pandemic politics dominate competitive governor’s races.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
The answer isn’t court-packing. It’s legislating, by Rahm Emanuel, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3jdJDwr
America feels like it’s falling apart. Time for some optimism, by Noah Smith, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3jbGoWf
WHERE AND WHEN
The House is out of Washington until after the election. Pelosi will be interviewed at midday on Bloomberg TV’s “Balance of Power.”
The Senate will convene at noon and resume consideration of the nomination of Michael Jay Newman to serve as district judge for the Southern District of Ohio.
The president at 3 p.m. headlines in a Sinclair Town Hall event in the Rose Garden before departing with the first lady for a campaign rally in Erie, Pa., at 7 p.m. They will return to the White House this evening.
Vice President Pence delivers remarks at a campaign rally in Cincinnati at 6 p.m.
Biden-Harris campaign events: Biden is sticking close to home this week in advance of Thursday’s presidential debate. Harris will join a Milwaukee rally by remote hookup to kick off the first day of in-person early voting in Wisconsin.
Economic indicator: The U.S. Census Bureau reports on housing starts in September at 8:30 a.m. Analysts look to the housing market as a bright spot in an otherwise downbeat economy.
INVITATION TODAY: The Hill Virtually Live hosts “America’s Most Reliable Voter” at 11 a.m. EDT, with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin (D), Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R), League of Women Voters CEO Virginia Kase and more to discuss how voters over the age of 50 are approaching the elections. Information to register is HERE.
➔ SUPREME COURT: Justices announced Monday they will take up two key cases involving Trump’s immigration policies, granting hearings on his border wall construction project, which reprogrammed Pentagon funding without congressional approval, and his crackdown on bogus asylum claims. A full court docket will push the cases into 2021, which could mean that both cases are moot if Trump is not reelected (The Associated Press).
➔ CORONAVIRUS: In Wisconsin, a state with a serious COVID-19 problem, a county judge on Monday ruled against a challenge by the Tavern League of Wisconsin, a lobbying group for the state’s 5,000 bars, and reimposed an order from the administration of Gov. Tony Evers (D) limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor venues to 25 percent of capacity to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Before the latest decision, the state government issued the capacity limit on Oct. 6 and a judge blocked it on Oct. 14 (The Associated Press). … In New York City, targeted virus testing in schools has turned up few COVID-19 cases. If the trend holds, the largest public school district in America could serve as a model for the nation (The New York Times). … Researchers are debating the pros and cons of attempts worldwide to quell coronavirus outbreaks with targeted and sometimes micro-restrictions rather than large, blanket lockdowns that invite renegade behavior. The debate is whether micro-targeting can contain the coronavirus in hot spots, or whether a patchwork, “whack-a-mole” approach is folly amid a fast-moving pandemic (The Associated Press). … The U.S.-Canada border will remain closed to nonessential travel until at least Nov. 21 because the United States has more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any nation in the world and transmissions are rising, Canada’s public safety minister announced (The Hill).
➔ ESPIONAGE? One interesting read this morning is about “Havana syndrome” health incidents affecting U.S. diplomats and spies far beyond Cuba — in China beginning in 2018, with Russia as a suspect. American personnel who fled China have spent more than two years fighting to obtain the same benefits given to the victims in Cuba and others attacked by foreign powers (The New York Times).
➔ SUDAN: The United States is poised to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism as soon as the government there sets aside $335 million in escrow for victims of al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, Trump announced on Monday. The payments would be a form of restitution for American victims and their families. Removing Sudan from the terror list would also open a door to potential international lending to Sudan. The Trump administration also believes an agreement could set in motion steps by Sudan toward establishing diplomatic relations with Israel following similar U.S.-brokered diplomatic and economic strides by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain (Reuters).
Presented by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices
Florida voters demand relief for small businesses
69% of Florida voters say small businesses have not received enough pandemic assistance from the federal government. But we know small businesses need more relief to stay competitive with big businesses. Learn more.
And finally … Everyone these days has a podcast. Now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Sesame Street on Monday jumped into podcasting for a young audio audience.
“The Sesame Street Podcast with Foley & Friends” on Audible offers non-television entertainment with an educational tilt to children, many of whom are involved in virtual instruction this year.
“We think it’s so important to have this other medium besides screens for playful, fun, engaging episodes that are also curriculum driven and really address the important educational needs for young children,” said Jennifer Schiffman Sanders, the director of content, education and research for Sesame Workshop (The Associated Press).