The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden search for undecided voters in final stretch

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Monday! Eight 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 as of this morning: 225,230.

With eight days to go, President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE find themselves on defense on key issues considered vulnerabilities as they barnstorm through a handful of toss-up states this week, hoping to nail down just enough votes to claim victory in the Electoral College.


The Hill: Biden seeks to close any path for a Trump victory in the contest’s final days.


Trump’s Achilles’ heel continues to be his response to COVID-19, while Biden’s comments last week that he supports fracking but wants the United States to transition away from subsidizing the oil and gas industry revived criticism on the right that his climate-focused energy agenda could cost jobs (The Hill).


Complicating the president’s Sunday vow in New Hampshire that the country is “rounding the turn” on the coronavirus is the fact that top aides in close contact with Vice President Pence contracted COVID-19. The vice president, who tested negative for the virus on Saturday and again on Sunday (The Washington Post), will not alter his campaign travels this week, according to spokesmen (The Associated Press).


The Sunday Shows: Spotlight shifts to positive COVID-19 tests among Pence’s staff members, including his chief of staff, Marc Short.


Trump told supporters in Manchester, N.H., that a COVID-19 vaccine — which he insists is coming “very quickly” — will throttle the pandemic into submission and “get it down fast.” Hours earlier, White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship MORE invited criticism from the Biden campaign when he told CNN during an interview that the administration is “not going to control the pandemic” because the coronavirus is contagious “just like the flu” (The Associated Press).


Reuters: Biden blasts Trump as U.S. coronavirus cases mount and Pence staff experiences outbreak.


The New York Times: Record numbers of daily infections were reported on Saturday in six states: Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Oklahoma and New Mexico.  


An effective, safe vaccine will not be ready for mass distribution in the United States until late 2021, although experts will know by early December about results from COVID-19 vaccine research, said Anthony FauciAnthony FauciBiden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' Jake Tapper jokes he's retained Giuliani to look into fraud in 'Sexiest Man' election 24 percent of New Yorkers unlikely to get COVID-19 vaccine: poll MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during an interview with BBC on Sunday that contrasted with Trump’s public cheerleading that a cure for all Americans is imminent (CNN).


Fox News: Trump in New Hampshire insists the United States is “rounding the turn” in the coronavirus pandemic.


The Hill: President campaigned in New Hampshire, at Maine orchard on Sunday.


Meanwhile, Biden continued to try to clarify his agenda for transitioning the country away from oil and gas by 2050 (The Hill), and Trump repeated his arguments that the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden attempted to personally profit from political connections abroad in 2014 (The Hill). There is no evidence to support Trump’s accusations of criminal misdeeds by the former vice president or his son (FactCheck.org).


The Hill: Biden’s oil stance jars Democrats in tough races.


In the final blitz toward Election Day (and as schedules continue to be announced in battleground states), Trump will campaign today in Pennsylvania., and the vice president will hold a rally later today in Minnesota. The president will barnstorm through Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska on Tuesday, while Pence will be in North Carolina and South Carolina. Trump will campaign in Arizona on Wednesday.


Biden has no events today and on Tuesday will appear in Warm Springs, Ga., (once a summer retreat for former President Franklin D. Roosevelt) to deliver a “messaging” speech about unifying America. Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden teams to meet with Trump administration agencies Biden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members Ossoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns MORE (D-Calif.), who is in the nation’s capital today to cast her first Senate floor vote since August to oppose Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, plans to campaign in Nevada on Tuesday and in Texas on Friday.


ABC News: With ample cash on hand, the Biden campaign aims in the final week to compete across Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, plus Georgia and Texas.


Trump and Pence have already voted. The vice president cast his ballot while in Indiana on Friday, and the president voted while in Florida on Saturday.


Nearly 60 million Americans have already voted, according to the U.S. Elections Project, representing 43.1 percent of the 2016 turnout with a week to go.


The Hill’s The Memo: Five reasons why Trump could upset the odds.


Polls: Biden and Trump are neck-and-neck in a CBS survey released on Sunday looking at likely voters in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina (The Hill). … A Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll of likely voters in Texas finds Biden leading Trump by 3 points in a survey with a 3.22 percent margin of error. Texas has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1976 (The Hill). 





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CONGRESS: The Senate is set to vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettMcConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report Federal appeals court sides with Texas, Louisiana efforts to cut Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funding The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE to the Supreme Court tonight, having held a special session over the weekend, ensuring that she will be on the court before the election as promised by Trump and Senate Republicans. 


The Senate voted 51-48 on Sunday to end debate on Barrett’s nomination, with Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right Whoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' MORE (R-Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (R-Maine) breaking ranks and siding with Democrats. Murkowski said over the weekend that she will vote to confirm Barrett in the final vote, with Collins maintaining that she will oppose the nominee on the grounds of timing (The Hill).


Monday’s vote is expected to be held at 7 p.m. It will take place roughly a month after Trump announced Barrett’s nomination to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgMcConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process MORE.


“So, we’ve got here a uniquely qualified person and the best evidence of it is you don’t hear anything about her qualifications. Not a peep about her talent, her intellect. We’ve got, colleagues, the perfect nominee for the Supreme Court,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellImmigration, executive action top Biden preview of first 100 days Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight McConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report MORE (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor on Sunday, critiquing unanimous Democratic opposition to the judge’s nomination.


Barrett’s confirmation is expected to give Republicans one final messaging point for the final week of the campaign, as the court is a top issue for GOP voters. During the Trump presidency, The Senate GOP has confirmed 219 judicial nominees across the circuit, including three to the Supreme Court. 


The Associated Press: Senate votes to advance Barrett; confirmation expected Monday.


The New York Times: Over Democratic fury, Republicans push Barrett to brink of confirmation.





> Stimulus latest: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSpending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that the Trump administration is reviewing the most recent items for possible inclusion in a coronavirus relief package while continuing to project an optimistic tone as she awaits word from the White House about next steps. 


“To do anything, though, that does not crush the virus is really official malfeasance. And to crush the virus, we have to follow the science, testing, tracing, treatment, mask-wearing, ventilation, separation and the rest,” Pelosi told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I sent over on Friday the list of the concerns that we still had about what is the answer, what is the answer, what is the answer. And my understanding is he will be reviewing that over the weekend and we will have some answers on Monday,” 


“We want it the sooner the better,” she added. 


Meadows also told the Sunday morning program that McConnell has given him a commitment to putting the bill on the floor and getting it passed. McConnell has said that he will bring a potential bill up for consideration but has not publicly said that it will get passed, as many Senate Republicans oppose the largesse of the current bill Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience On The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed MORE are negotiating.


Reuters: COVID-19 aid bill talks continue, Pelosi says. 


NBC News: Large corporate landlords have filed 10,000 eviction actions in five states since September. 


The Hill: Pelosi commits to running for Speaker if Democrats retain House. 


MORE POLITICS: More than a week from Election Day and with the Senate GOP majority in peril, Republicans are watching on as Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Memo: Trump plows ahead with efforts to overturn election More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Peggy Noonan: 'Bogus dispute' by Trump 'doing real damage' MORE (R-Iowa) is in danger of losing her bid for reelection, with outside groups continuing to spend in the Hawkeye State on both sides of the aisle. 


As The Hill’s Julia Manchester writes, Ernst is trying to secure another term as the president struggles to get over the hump in Iowa. Trump and Biden are running neck and neck in the key battleground state, with Biden leading by 0.8 percentage points, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average


The struggles Trump is incurring could also drag down the incumbent senator. According to a New York Times-Siena College poll released last week, Ernst leads Democrat Theresa Greenfield by a single point, while Biden leads Trump by 3 points, meaning she could need cross-ticket voters to return her to Washington.


With a nip-tuck race, outside dollars have flooded the state’s airwaves. $113 million in advertising bookings is being spent by outside groups on the contest, with $59 million behind Greenfield and $54 million behind Ernst, according to Advertising Analytics. 


The New York Times: As governor resists mask mandate, Iowans sour on the Republican Party.


The New York Times: Susan Collins hasn’t changed much, but Maine has.





While Senate Democrats remain hopeful that they can flip seats like Ernst’s, they remain cautious about their election night predictions, fully mindful of what took place four years ago as they anticipated not only winning the White House, but the Senate as well.


After six years in the minority, Senate Democrats are being careful not to spike the football too early, according to The Hill’s Jordain Carney, even though political watchers give them a good chance to win back the needed seats to retake the chamber, especially if Biden wins on Nov. 3. 


The Hill: Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: 10 under-the-radar races to watch in November. 


Politico: GOP Senate majority besieged on multiple fronts.


The Hill: Ballot initiatives in Colorado, Louisiana could restrict abortion access.


The Hill: GOP sees chance to take out Democratic House campaign chief. 


The New Yorker’s excerpt of former President Obama's forthcoming memoir, "A Promised Land," is HERE.


The New York Times opinion: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntercept DC bureau chief says Biden picks are 'same people' from Obama years The Hill's 12:30 Report - Third vaccine candidate with 90% efficacy Biden won — so why did Trump's popularity hit its highest point ever? MORE, now a podcaster, explains why she would not want to interview Trump and how the 2020 election feels different this time: “I think a lot of voters aren’t going to be fooled again” (transcript of Clinton with journalist and “Sway” podcaster Kara Swisher).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


Winter is coming: time for a mask mandate, by Scott Gottlieb, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/35zpKLy 


Why people power doesn’t work like it used to, by Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3kvuPuq 


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The House is out of Washington until after the election.


The Senate will complete 30 hours of scheduled debate and vote on Barrett’s nomination to become an associate justice on the Supreme Court.


The president will headline rallies in Allentown, Pa., at 11 a.m., and Martinsburg, Pa., at 4:30 p.m. 


The vice president will travel to Hibbing, Minn., for a rally at 1:45 p.m. CDT, and return to Washington.


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBiden's State Department picks are a diplomatic slam dunk Kissinger tells Biden to go easy on China Saudi-Israeli diplomacy progresses amid looming Middle East challenges MORE is traveling through Friday to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia.


Biden-Harris campaign events: Biden’s campaign has no public events noted for the nominee today. He will give a speech in Georgia on Tuesday. Harris will cast her Senate vote on Barrett’s nomination today and campaign on Tuesday in Nevada. Obama will campaign for Biden-Harris on Tuesday in Orlando, Fla. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EDT at Rising on YouTube


CORONAVIRUS: The United States reported 79,852 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, close to Friday’s record of 84,244 new cases. Hospitalizations are rising and have hit a two-month high, and deaths are also trending upwards, according to a Reuters tally. … Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, warned on Sunday that the nation is at a “dangerous tipping point” with rising COVID-19 infection rates. “Most states aren't at the point where they're extremely pressed right now. That's going to change over the next two to three weeks … so we need to take some steps right now. There is no public support for shutdowns nationally like we did in the spring. That's not going to happen. So we need to reach for other measures.” He recommends a national mask mandate and select closures of “congregate settings” (CBS News). … California is one state that has appeared to turn a corner with the coronavirus by learning from past mistakes, reports The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel. … American restaurants have been hit hard by COVID-19 and have tried to innovate by creating their own delivery platforms, providing a promising alternative to major, expensive apps on the market (The Hill).The virus is pummeling Europe’s eateries too. ... (The Associated Press). In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a new national state of emergency on Sunday, which includes an overnight curfew as coronavirus cases continue to spike across that country (The Associated Press).


GITMO: The infamous Guantanamo Bay prison today houses 40 men, about where the Trump administration started and down from a height of 780 prisoners during the George W. Bush administration. Four years ago, Trump pledged to “load up” the detention facility with “bad dudes,” but the administration recently celebrated bringing two of the most notorious ISIS fighters to the United States for trial, further reducing the facility’s population of detainees (The Hill).


VATICAN: Pope FrancisPope FrancisChina dismisses pope's comments about 'persecuted' Uighurs Pope Francis supports NBA players' work to promote social justice Pope Francis in new book criticizes anti-lockdown protesters MORE named 13 new cardinals on Sunday, including Washington, D.C., Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who will become the first African-American to become a cardinal. Francis made the announcement from his studio window at St. Peter’s Square, with an official ceremony set to take place for Gregory and the 12 others being elevated on Nov. 28 (The Associated Press).


WORLD SERIES: The Los Angeles Dodgers are on the verge of clinching the team’s first World Series title in 32 years after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 on Sunday night, 4-2, giving the team a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6 tonight. The Dodgers were fueled by ace Clayton Kershaw, who tossed 5 ⅔ innings of two-run baseball, and home runs from Max Muncy and Joc Pederson. The Rays will turn to Blake Snell, the 2018 Cy Young Award winner, tonight to extend the series. Tony Gonsolin will get the ball for Los Angeles (ESPN).


And finally …   Here’s a great definition of “lucky mistake”: Samir Mazahem, 56, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., won two million-dollar jackpots by accidentally buying duplicate lottery tickets using the same winning number. 


He said he’d saved numbers on a lottery app after buying a $2 ticket for the June 9 Mega Millions game. He recently logged onto the app and found he had two $1 million winners. “I couldn’t believe it was real,” Mazahem said. “It took several days for the reality to set in that my mistake had paid off to the tune of $2 million!” (The Associated Press and The New 93Q).