The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Smart or senseless for Biden to spend time in Georgia, Iowa?

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday! Six 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 each morning this week: Monday, 225,230; Tuesday, 225,735; Wednesday, 226,722.


Total confirmed worldwide cases of COVID-19 infection now exceed 44 million.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE continue their battleground duel as they appear in key swing states in the countdown to Tuesday. 


Biden, who remains the favorite to win the White House with six days remaining, made a show of strength as he campaigned in Georgia in a bid to flip the longtime GOP stronghold and carry Democratic candidates for Senate across the finish line. 


“There aren’t a lot of pundits who would’ve guessed four years ago that a Democratic candidate in 2020 would be campaigning in Georgia on the final week of the election,” Biden told supporters at a rally in Atlanta. “Or that we’d have such competitive Senate races in Georgia. But we do because something’s happening here in Georgia and across America … people are coming together to transcend the old divides and show what’s possible.”


“We win Georgia, we win everything,” Biden added.


As The Hill’s Jonathan Easley writes, the former vice president is trying to expand his reach into states that have backed GOP presidential candidates for decades, including Arizona and Iowa, where Biden is set to campaign on Friday. Georgia, his destination as the final campaign week began, has not supported a Democrat for president since 1992. 


According to the latest RealClearPolitics average, Trump and Biden are in a virtual tie in the Peach State (47.2 percent to 46.8 percent). One GOP operative told the Morning Report that Georgia is “as close, if not closer, than Florida, North Carolina, Arizona” in the late stages and that the Trump-Biden contest is a “deadlock” in the state. A Democratic aide with knowledge of internal polling added that Biden leads by 1 to 2 points.


The Hill: Biden calls Trump a “charlatan,” invokes former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a speech promising to unite the nation.


While Biden rallied supporters down South, the president looked to lock down his standing in two Midwestern states that fueled his 2016 victory — Wisconsin and Michigan — in an attempt to recapture the magic of four years ago. However, he trails in both states, according to recent surveys.


At an appearance in Lansing, Mich., the president downplayed concerns over his standing in the polls, pointing to polls that show him up 3 points in the state, although it is unclear which poll he was referring to. 


“I think we’re up a lot more,” Trump told rally goers. “We’re going to have a great red wave.” 


Trump also campaigned in Omaha, Neb., on Tuesday night in an effort to repeat his victory in the state’s 2nd Congressional District and win the single electoral vote it hands out. The appearance doubled as a play for Iowa voters as the Omaha media market stretches into Western Iowa. 


This morning’s surprise poll from ABC News-Washington Post: In Wisconsin, Biden leads the president by 17 percentage points (57 percent to 40 percent). The former vice president also holds a 7-point advantage in Michigan (51 percent to 44 percent), according to the newest survey. 


The Washington Post: One week out, Biden imagines a post-Trump America and the president launches more attacks.


Aside from the trio of rallies, Trump’s attention was also trained in the direction of former President Obama, who headlined a rally in Florida on behalf of the former vice president. 


Speaking to supporters in Orlando, Obama let loose on the president for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and panned White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerPompeo becomes first top US diplomat to visit Israeli settlement, labels boycotts anti-Semitic NYT's Bruni suggests Ivanka Trump, Kushner move to North Korea or Saudi Arabia With Biden, a Saudi reboot MORE over remarks claiming that for Trump’s economic policies to work, Black Americans had to “want to be successful.” 


“What's his closing argument? That people are too focused on COVID,” Obama said, referencing what has become a staple of Trump's rallies and Twitter feed. "He said this at one of his rallies. 'COVID, COVID, COVID,' he's complaining. … He's jealous of COVID's media coverage” (The Hill).


“[Kushner] says Black folks have to want to be successful,” Obama said. “Who are these folks? What history books do they read? Who do they talk to?” (The Hill).


The remarks reprised a familiar role for Obama: as a troll of his successor. Trump reacted to his predecessor’s comments by complaining that Fox News broadcast the 44th president’s remarks (The Hill). 


The Hill: Trump blasts Obama speech for Biden as “fake” after Obama hits Trump's tax payments.


The New York Times: Obama’s new gig: Gleefully needling Trump.


The Associated Press: Trump to appeal to Nevada voters from neighboring Arizona.





The Associated Press: Biden repeats his COVID-19 strategy if he’s president: immediately consult federal virologist Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci urges Americans to conduct 'risk-benefit assessment' before holiday travel Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Fauci: 'We're in a very difficult situation at all levels' but 'help is on the way' MORE, work with governors and local officials to institute a national mask mandate and forge consensus with Congress to enact a coronavirus relief bill by the end of January. 


Reid Wilson, The Hill: Biden camp swamps Trump on late TV ads as battlefield expands.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Women could cost Trump reelection.


The New York Times: Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE funds last-minute advertising blitz for Biden in Texas and Ohio.


The Hill: Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMcSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview Republican senators urge Trump to label West Bank goods as 'Made in Israel' MORE (R-Texas): Hunter Biden attacks don't move “a single voter.”


Nearly 71 million Americans have already voted, according to the U.S. Elections Project, representing close to 52 percent of the 2016 turnout. 


Poll watch: David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report says the polls could be wrong, but that might help Biden, not just Trump (NBC News contributor). … Biden retains a slight lead over the president in Arizona, according to a new survey of likely voters conducted by OH Predictive Insights. In the Senate race, Democrat Mark Kelly leads Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump nominee's long road to Fed may be dead end McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol McSally's final floor speech: 'I gave it my all, and I left it all on the field' MORE (R-Ariz.) by 5 points (50 percent to 45 percent) (The Hill).





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MORE POLITICS: Call them the shy Biden voters this cycle. Anti-Trump feelings in some communities mean Republicans who have never supported a Democratic candidate are filling out ballots for Biden while keeping that decision mostly to themselves, reports The Hill’s Amie Parnes. In 2016, some pollsters said hidden vows to vote for Trump were not detected in surveys before the election, although focus groups of likely voters talked openly about the phenomenon. “I'm not coming out and saying it,” one Palm Beach County Republican told The Hill recently about his decision to turn his back on his neighbor, the president. "But I'm allowing people to connect the dots.” The Florida voter, who has never supported a Democratic candidate, said, "It's not that I'm ashamed to vote for Biden. I know I'm doing the right thing. I just don't want it out there.”


While talking with Ohio suburban women voters this month, The New York Times’s The Daily podcast discovered similar reactions: Republican moms described how their disapproval of the president’s behavior and policies shifted their values along with their decisions to try to put Biden in the White House.





> Texas House race: Morning Report’s Al Weaver flew to Austin, Texas, last week to understand the dynamics in one of the most hotly contested House districts. Republican Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyThe Hill's Morning Report - Too close to call Chip Roy fends off challenge from Wendy Davis to win reelection in Texas Democrats seek wave to bolster House majority MORE is in the fight of his political life as he tries to surmount the president's struggles in the Austin suburbs. He faces Democrat Wendy Davis, a progressive icon. Although both candidates are described as being on the political extremes of their respective parties, each says they can be bipartisan bridge-builders, with them casting one another as an extremist in their fight to represent Texas's 21st Congressional District.


> Senate contest in Alaska: Contributions are pouring into Alaska's close competition between Democratic-backed candidate Al Gross and Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanTrump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview MORE (R). Polling indicates incumbents Sullivan and Trump lead in Alaska, but margins have been shrinking. A recent New York Times-Siena College poll showed the president ahead by 6 points, while Sullivan outpaced Gross by 8 points. By comparison, Trump won the state by nearly 15 points four years ago. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report moved the Senate race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican” last week (The Hill).


> Election Day safety: Concerns about possible violence and unrest tied to 2020 election outcomes have been voiced by voters who fear the worst and government officials who say they’ll be prepared for demonstrations, reports The Hill’s Max Greenwood.


Worries are not unique to one political group. A poll from YouGov released earlier this month showed that a majority of voters – nearly 56 percent – expect to see an increase in violence after Election Day, including 53 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans. Skirmishes broke out between Trump supporters and foes in New York City on Sunday, leading to several arrests.


On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to move into five cities ahead of Election Day, including Austin and San Antonio, as a precaution to keep the peace (San Antonio Express-News).


The Associated Press: Voters worry about safety at the polls.


> Wall Street & elections: Investors often prefer known unknowns and get the jitters about situations such as rising COVID-19 infections, recession, failure in Washington to enact legislation to inject more stimulus into the economy and a presidential election that could drag on with legal challenges until January. While Trump has warned that his defeat would bring a total collapse of the stock market, some Wall Street veterans believe markets could cruise under a Biden presidency if there’s a fiscal stimulus bill, low Federal Reserve interest rates and a massive federal investment in infrastructure, reports The Hill’s Sylvan Lane.


CONGRESS: Facebook’s Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Facebook content moderators demand more workplace protections | Ousted cyber official blasts Giuliani press conference | Tech firms fall short on misinformation targeting Latino vote Facebook says AI is aiding platform's ability to remove hate speech Facebook content moderators demand more workplace COVID-19 protections MORE, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai will appear virtually before the Senate Commerce Committee at 10 a.m. to defend platform content policies criticized by lawmakers and Trump as unfairly shielded from liability under federal law (CNBC).


> Relief deal?: A stimulus deal is coming, but not until after Election Day. That was the message from the president on Tuesday as progress made in recent weeks has stalled over a COVID-19 testing strategy plan proposed by Democrats that has yet to be approved by the White House. 


Speaking to reporters, Trump insisted negotiations will continue and predicted that the two sides will reach a deal. However, he used the opportunity to criticize Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS economy hurtles toward 'COVID cliff' with programs set to expire Democrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Divided citizenry and government — a call to action for common ground MORE (D-Calif.), his chief foe in Congress, saying once again that she wants “bailouts” for states and cities run by Democrats and that Democrats will lose the House majority due in part to the talks.


“Nancy Pelosi is only interested in bailing out badly-run, crime-ridden Democrat cities and states. That’s all she is interested in,” Trump said. “She is not interested in helping the people.” 


“After the election, we will get the best stimulus package you have ever seen,” Trump continued. “I think we are going to take back the House because of her” (The Hill).


Trump’s remarks sparked a response from the Speaker, who argued that Trump’s comments were a byproduct of White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOvernight 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 House Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names MORE’s weekend declaration that “we’re not going to control the pandemic.” 


“Today, the blowback from the Meadows confession made it imperative for the President to declare, ‘After the election, we will get the best stimulus package you have ever seen,’ ” Pelosi said in a letter to the House Democratic Caucus. “The President’s words only have meaning if he can get Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop aide: Biden expected to visit Georgia in push to boost Ossoff, Warnock Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' MORE to take his hand off the pause button. This week, we continue to put pen to paper, with thanks to our Committee Chairs for their mastery of the legislation and loyalty to America’s working families.”


The Washington Post: Trump predicts massive stimulus deal after election, but negotiations have mostly ended. 


> Senate bad blood: The relationship between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNew York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn Biden congratulates Pelosi on Speaker nomination Senate Democrats introduce bill to shore up PPE supply MORE (D-N.Y.) has hit a new low after the bitter fight over Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettAlito to far-right litigants: The buffet is open Hispanics shock Democrats in deep blue California COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries MORE, with the leaders laying the blame for the recent Supreme Court kerfuffle at each others feet shortly before Monday night’s vote. 


While the Democratic leader kept his troops in line and from going too far in their attacks against the nominee, the simmering tensions with McConnell were fully apparent, with Schumer declaring that Monday, the day of Barrett's final confirmation vote, "will go down as one of the darkest days in the 231-year history of the United States Senate." 


In response, McConnell returned fire, slamming Schumer for kicking off the judicial wars in the early 2000s and dismissing his complaints over Barrett's confirmation as “outlandish” and “utterly absurd.” Outside of floor debate, the relationship between the two leaders is minimal, as The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports. The GOP leader has  largely shut Schumer out of negotiations at key moments this year, declining to negotiate with him directly on the $2.2 trillion CARES Act earlier this year. 


Politics has added to the frosty relationship; Schumer has made no bones about wanting McConnell’s post as majority leader. 


Politico: No apologies: McConnell says Barrett a “huge success for the country.”


The Washington Post: McConnell insists his health is “just fine,” declines to explain what appears to be bruised hands.


> Senate: Tensions in the upper chamber are at an all-time high about potentially nixing the filibuster for legislation and expanding the Supreme Court next year if Democrats capture the majority. There are signs of significant shifts within the caucus on judicial reforms, even as Biden has said his approach, if elected, would be to weigh any judicial reforms with help from an independent commission that would represent a broad mix of stakeholders (The Hill). … Legal and congressional experts say packing the court would be a longshot endeavor, at best, and there’s a reason it has not been attempted since former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s efforts (Bloomberg Law).

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! 


What Trump and Biden’s travel schedules tell us about the state of the race, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/34z8Flt 


How will Democrats deal with the new court? By Jonathan Bernstein, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3oyvZYM 


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The House is out of Washington until after the election.


The Senate will return to work on Nov. 9. 


The president will campaign in Arizona with rallies in Bullhead City and Phoenix at 2 and 4:30 p.m. EDT. Trump will fly from Arizona to Doral, Fla., and remain overnight.


The vice president will headline campaign events in Mosinee, Wis., at 4 p.m. EDT, and Flint, Mich., at 7 p.m. EDT.


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo says Mideast strategy will be Trump administration policy 'until our time is complete' Trump administration pulls out of Open Skies treaty with Russia Tibetan political leader makes visit to White House for first time in six decades MORE and Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump administration pulls out of Open Skies treaty with Russia The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans President is wild card as shutdown fears grow MORE today participated in the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi, India. Pompeo this week travels to Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia before returning to Washington. 


Biden-Harris campaign events: Biden will receive a briefing from public health experts and deliver remarks on the COVID-19 response. He will also attend a virtual fundraiser in the afternoon. Harris will meet in Arizona with Latina business owners in Tucson and Black leaders in Phoenix. 


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


SUPREME COURT: Chief Justice John Roberts administered a second court oath to Barrett on Tuesday and she began work with her eight colleagues (The Associated Press). … Barrett is now confronted with battles over deadline extensions for receipt of mailed ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, two hotly contested swing states on Nov. 3. Trump in September said Barrett’s swift confirmation was critical so that she would be seated in time to vote on electoral disputes (The Hill). … Luzerne County, Pa., on Tuesday challenged Barrett to recuse herself from a Pennsylvania ballots case (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).





CORONAVIRUS: Chicago banned indoor dining beginning on Friday amid a surge in COVID-19 transmissions and a decision to backtrack on reopening plans. New restrictions imposed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) will also limit all public gatherings to 25 people. “There seems to be a COVID storm coming, and we have to get prepared. It’s time to go all in, Illinois,” the governor warned (The Hill). … Sixty-eight percent of Americans say they know someone who has been infected with COVID-19 (NBC News). … Severe COVID-19 cases leave lasting effects, including on patients’ mental state (The Wall Street Journal). … Vaccines & therapies: The National Institutes of Health permanently scrapped a clinical trial of an antibody therapy developed by Eli Lilly in combination with the drug remdesivir because it did not help hospitalized COVID-19 patients (The Hill). … Immunity: A British study finds COVID-19 immunity wanes, suggesting the theory that the it could burn itself out after mass global infections is a flawed theory when applied to the novel coronavirus (CNN). 


$8.1 MILLION IN PRESIDENTIAL PERKS: Trump has directed millions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers and from his political supporters into his own businesses since his inauguration. The Washington Post has reported examples based on open records requests and a lawsuit. To date, the president has received at least $8.1 million from taxpayers and political benefactors, according to documents and publicly available records cited by the Post.


LOBBYING: Independent producers behind some of the country’s most popular movies and TV shows are turning to K Street in Washington for the first time as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to reshape the entertainment industry. Independent companies say they need Congress and the White House to enact a coronavirus relief package that could help them hang on, while movie giants have greater access to capital (The Hill). 


Interesting read: WHITE HELMETS CO-FOUNDER: How Syria’s disinformation campaign destroyed the internationally celebrated co-founder of the rescue group White Helmets. The United Kingdom’s James Le Mesurier fell to his death in late 2019 in Istanbul, an apparent suicide (The Guardian). 


And finally …    DIY homeowners are trying to be wickedly creative to keep Halloween trick-or-treating traditions alive and safe for children and their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. From no-touch chutes that drop candy to youngsters from safe distances to over-the-top decorations (including candy catapults), Americans are in a ghoulishly sweet holiday spirit (The Associated Press). 


Pssst: Halloween is Saturday!