The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, Biden set for weekend swing state sprint


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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Thankfully, it is Friday! Four 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; Thursday, 227,700; Friday, 228,668.

Confirmed U.S. COVID-19 cases are approaching 9 million this morning. It took just 15 days to jump from 8 to 9 million as new daily records are being set (The Washington Post).

President TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Philadelphia shooting leaves 2 dead, injures toddler Ron Johnson booed at Juneteenth celebration in Wisconsin MORE took the 2020 roadshow to Florida on Thursday as the pair each look to lock down the Sunshine State and prepare for a final four-day sprint through key battleground states.  

The tug-of-war over the state’s 29 electoral votes included rallies for each candidate in Tampa, Fla., with Biden also making an appearance in Broward County to tell supporters that Florida could put Democrats back in the White House next week.

“You hold the power. If Florida goes blue, it’s over,” Biden said.

The Associated Press: Trump, Biden fight for Florida, appeal for Tuesday turnout.

The Hill’s Campaign Report: What the latest polling says about the presidential race.

With Florida in the spotlight, four new polls of the key contest emerged on Thursday. All four showed Biden holding a lead over the president of 3 to 5 percentage points. According to a Hill-Harris poll, the former vice president holds a 3-point advantage over Trump (The Hill). 

The appearances on Thursday also were an opportunity for the former vice president to solidify support among Latino Americans, with questions swirling whether they will come out in the same numbers that did so for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Monica Lewinsky responds to viral HBO intern's mistake: 'It gets better' Virginia governor's race poses crucial test for GOP MORE four years ago. According to a new Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday, Biden leads overall by 3 percentage points, but that his lead among the key bloc was down to only 16 points. Clinton carried the constituency in Florida by 27 points.  

However, a Monmouth University survey found that the former VP is ahead by 5 points in the battleground state and that he matches Clinton’s margin among Latinos.

The Hill exclusive poll: Biden leads in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina. 

The Washington Post: In campaign’s waning days, both candidates seek to shore up support from Latino voters.

Looking ahead, the two presidential candidates will crisscross a number of key battleground states between today and Monday. Today, the president will hold rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota — the last of which will only allow 250 attendees due to state capacity limits — with three appearances slated across Pennsylvania on Saturday as part of his last-ditch effort to hold on to some semblance of his Rust Belt wall that propelled him to the White House last cycle. 

Trump is also expected to hold events in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina before Election Day, with his campaign attempting to hammer home an economic message in the coming days (The Associated Press). The renewed economic messaging comes on the heels of news that the economy grew at a record 33.1 percent annualized rate in the third quarter, recovering some of the deep losses driven by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic (The Hill). 

As The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Sylvan Lane write, the Trump campaign is seizing on record-breaking growth, using the news to make a last-minute pitch to voters that the president is the best candidate to handle the recovery from the coronavirus recession. During his rally in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Trump was eager to share the news.  

“Did you see the number today? 33.1 GDP. The biggest in the history of our country by almost triple,” Trump told supporters.

The Hill: Weekly jobless claims fall to 751,000 in last report before election.

The Hill: Trump campaign postpones North Carolina rally, citing weather.



Across the aisle, Biden will hold campaign events in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin today. Minnesota was added to his schedule in a rare sign of playing late-game defense (The Washington Post).  

As The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports, Democrats are by-and-large feeling optimistic about the Democratic nominee’s chances of defeating Trump in four days. However, that has not stopped them from second guessing some decisions the Biden campaign has made about his travel schedule in the final week of the campaign.   

Among the criticisms of Biden’s travel over the final week include the campaign’s decision to send the nominee to Georgia on Tuesday instead of focusing on either Michigan or Wisconsin, which are considered must-win states. Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe U.S. and Mexico must revamp institutions supporting their joint efforts Harris signals a potential breakthrough in US-Mexico cooperation Watch live: Harris delivers remarks on vaccination efforts MORE’s (D-Calif.) appearance in Texas later today has also drawn the ire of some Democrats. 

“It's definitely a little off-putting,” said one Democratic strategist. “I think the Biden folks are putting themselves at a big risk for being second-guessed. It feels like even if it's only perception, perception is super important at this point in the race … [it’s as] important as much as stoking enthusiasm and confidence.”  

Politico: Trump's chances hinge on a polling screw-up way worse than 2016. 

The Atlantic: How Trump could shock the world again.

Poll watch: In North Carolina, Biden and Rep. Cal Cunningham (D) hold narrow leads in The New York Times-Siena College survey released on Thursday. Biden’s 48-45 lead over Trump among likely voters is within the poll’s margin of error (The Hill) …. Skeptics insist Trump’s support in surveys is underrepresented and that the election outcome will establish that the polling industry and election analysts missed the president’s 2020 support in key states. Nervous Democrats, haunted by Clinton’s experience four years ago, fear this could yet be true. A Trump reelection would nevertheless be a far greater shock than his narrow win by 77,000 votes in the Electoral College in 2016, reports The Hill’s Jonathan Easley. Pollsters were closer in 2016 to the presidential outcome than many people assume, but improvements have been made in 2020 to capture late-breaking shifts in key states and to weight for educational attainment, a marker important to gauge support for the presidential candidates (The Washington Post).

More than 82 million Americans have already voted, according to the U.S. Elections Project, representing nearly 60 percent of the 2016 turnout.





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MORE POLITICS: Money: Republicans have watched as Democrats amassed and spent a mountain of cash during the 2020 election cycle, which helped the party move deep-red states into the toss-up column. Regardless of which party triumphs after Nov. 3, GOP lawmakers say their party is overdue for a discussion about improving fundraising, including cultivation of small-dollar donors, reports The Hill’s Jordain Carney.  

Supreme Court and elections: The Hill’s John Kruzel reports how recent Supreme Court rulings could affect voting in three battleground states: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Missing ballots: A Pittsburgh-area official said on Thursday that thousands of mailed ballots appear to have gone missing for reasons that have not been explained. Butler County in Pennsylvania mailed new ballots, overnighted ballots to people residing out of state such as college students, and even asked deputies with the Sheriff’s Department to hand-deliver ballots (The Hill).

Senate – Michigan: Both parties are locked in a high-stakes Senate contest in the Wolverine State, seen by the GOP as a critical pickup opportunity at a time when the Senate majority is on the line. Outside groups aligned with Senate GOP leadership invested roughly $20 million in recent weeks to try to oust Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersLawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks Absences force Senate to punt vote on Biden nominee Senate Democrats investing M in Defend the Vote initiative MORE (Mich.), one of two Democrats seeking reelection in states Trump carried in 2016. Peters faces Republican John James (The Hill). 

Niall Stanage writes about Texas in his latest Memo, describing what could happen in the presidential race next week and the impact it could have on both parties. Even a close result would be a flashing warning sign for the GOP. A narrow victory by the president in the Lone Star State would mean Trump’s brand of Republicanism has ebbed in the Deep South and Great Plains. The last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Texas was Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterTime will tell: Kamala Harris's presidential prospects Queen Elizabeth will need to call upon her charm for Biden's visit Is Biden the new FDR or LBJ? History says no MORE in 1976, but Democrats insist the state’s 38 electoral votes are in play.

The New York Times: Texas is a toss-up. So why won’t Trump or Biden campaign there? 



CORONAVIRUS: In the United States and in Europe, new cases of COVID-19 are escalating with a speed that alarms public health experts and leads disease forecasters to offer projections that are downright chilling when weighed against the trajectory of the pandemic experienced in the spring and summer.

The United States set a new weekly record with more than 500,000 cases of COVID-19. In a geographically dispersed pattern, 25 states set records for confirmed cases in the last two weeks, including 17 states with record highs recorded over a matter of a few days. No state has been bending the curve as winter approaches (The Hill). 

During a week in which more than 3,000 people have died from COVID-19 in this country, Trump’s spokeswoman divided the U.S. population by age to focus on those who contract the coronavirus, but survive, using exaggerated statistics. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, “I think what you’re seeing is if you’re under 70, your chances of surviving are upwards of 99 percent and above 70 it’s still very close to that range because it’s a testament to remdesivir, dexamethazone and the president deregulating and making those possible. And we’re still hoping for a vaccine by the end of the year.” 

Irwin Redlener of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University concedes some of the pandemic’s new U.S. wave was inevitable, but he tells The Associated Press that at least 130,000 of the nation’s more than 227,000 deaths could have been avoided had the country more widely embraced masks and social distancing. It’s why more governors and local officials are moving toward targeted interventions, such as mask mandates, tighter restrictions on group activities and some trial curfews. 

Redlener was referring to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Medicine by researchers from the University of Washington's School of Medicine. They predicted that current state strategies surrounding social distancing, phased reopenings and mask mandates could lead to 511,373 deaths by Feb. 28. But the research also projected that nearly 130,000 lives could be saved from the end of September through the end of February if at least 95 percent of the U.S. population wore masks in public. If fewer people cooperated and only 85 percent wore masks, many deaths could still be avoided — nearly 96,000 deaths, according to the data (USA Today).

Medical experts in states with unrelenting surges in COVID-19 cases are alarmed at the strain on hospitals and medical teams, even before winter begins and populations move indoors. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned on Wednesday that the United States is on a trajectory to match the rate of spread in European countries in about three weeks. Illustrating the strain, El Paso, Texas, is setting up a field hospital, and the Utah Hospital Association warned it might need to ration care (The Hill)

Advising states: Deborah BirxDeborah BirxEx-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Tulane adds Hunter Biden as guest speaker on media polarization The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Supreme Court announces unanimous rulings MORE, a coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, has traveled to 40 states since August and logged more than 20,000 miles to reach small groups of state and local officials to talk about COVID-19, safety and school instruction, preparedness and best practices in an effort to respond to the pandemic under federal, state and local policy options (CNN). 

Travel: The Associated Press: JetBlue is the latest airline to retreat from blocking seats as a precaution against COVID-19 transmission, yet another indication of financial pressures as fewer people travel by air.

Stockpiling: Bleak projections of COVID-19’s anticipated spread this winter are leading many Americans to stockpiling essential goods as they did when the pandemic began, while also thinking about hunkering down if the country explodes with tensions and turmoil. “I think that there are plenty of reasons for legitimate concern about disruptions,” said Baruch Fischhoff, professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at the Carnegie Mellon University. “Between the pandemic that seems to be surging around the country, without a strong assurance that it's being well controlled, and then there are people that are worried about some sort of unrest after the election” (The Hill).


CONGRESS: As in the movie “Casablanca,” Washington leaders say they are shocked, shocked, shocked that politics are part of the impasse over stimulus spending.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection Overnight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Trump against boycotting Beijing Olympics in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE engaged in a rare public back-and-forth, which featured the most stinging remarks the Treasury chief has made about his negotiating counterpart since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as talks once again hit a standstill before Election Day. 

The Thursday food fight started with a letter Pelosi sent to Mnuchin early on Thursday, pressing for Mnuchin and the White House to respond to the latest stimulus offer by Democrats warning that Washington's failure to act quickly on another round of disaster aid will only heighten the health and economic fallout as the pandemic surges around the country.  

“Your responses are critical for our negotiations to continue,” Pelosi wrote to Mnuchin. "The President’s words that ‘after the election, we will get the best stimulus package you have ever seen’ only have meaning if he can get [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection Black lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory Graham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' MORE to take his hand off the pause button and get Senate Republican Chairmen moving toward agreement with their House counterparts.”

Later in the day, Mnuchin responded with a letter of his own, calling the Speaker’s letter a “political stunt” and criticizing her for refusing to negotiate on multiple provisions of a potential deal. 

“Your ALL OR NONE approach is hurting hard-working Americans who need help NOW,” Mnuchin said.  

The latest war of words comes ahead of a looming battle over another relief package during the lame-duck session of Congress once lawmakers reconvene after the election, though both parties believe it is more likely that they can strike a deal once election tensions have simmered down.

“The motivation level on both sides will depend on how the election comes out but I think either way we’ll do something. The question is how much,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump endorses Murkowski challenger Yellen: Disclosure of tax data to ProPublica a 'very serious situation' Sanders won't vote for bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (R-S.D.) told The Hill’s Alexander Bolton.

The Washington Post: Pelosi and Mnuchin, once Washington’s Odd Couple, publicly disavow economic relief talks - and each other. 

The Hill: Pelosi, eyeing big COVID-19 deal in lame duck, wants “clean slate” for Biden in 2021. 

The Associated Press: Pelosi wants “big” health care, infrastructure push in 2021.

How nasty is official Washington sounding this week? Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Senate confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday called the president “a moron” during a radio discussion about Trump’s handling of the pandemic response (The Hill)


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! 



Raucous 2016 gives way to subdued 2020, by Peggy Noonan, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3oHwMGy  

The world is watching this election. Here’s what other countries have to gain and lose, by David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/35Lysq3 



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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 hold a rally in Waterford Township, Mich., at 1 p.m.; Green Bay, Wis., at 2:30 p.m.; and speak to supporters in Rochester, Minn., at 5 p.m. He will need his overcoat.

The vice president will appear at a rally in Flagstaff, Ariz., at 11:30 a.m. MST, and Tucson, Ariz., at 2:30 p.m. 

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Economic Analysis at 8:30 a.m. will report U.S. personal income and outlays in September, expected to show an increase for the fifth consecutive month.

Biden-Harris campaign events: Biden will headline campaign events Des Moines, Iowa, St. Paul, Minn., and in the evening, Milwaukee, Wis. Harris will appear in Fort Worth, McAllen and Houston, Texas. On Saturday, Biden, accompanied by former President Obama, will return to Michigan to get out the vote. Harris will urge voting participation in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties in Florida on Saturday.

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


ECONOMY: In the third quarter, U.S. gross domestic product grew 33 percent, a record rise since World War II ended, as the economy expanded following pandemic-induced lockdowns and contraction, the government reported on Thursday (The Associated Press). … A slowing economy is forecast for the remainder of this year (The New York Times). … ExxonMobil on Thursday announced it will lay off 1,900 employees, primarily in Houston, to cut costs and reorganize during the downturn (The Houston Chronicle). … Tech giants posted enormous third-quarter earnings on Thursday (The Hill). 

INTERNATIONAL: British officials said on Friday that they do not expect to follow the lead of France or Germany and institute any form of a new temporary lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the United Kingdom is pushing a localized approach as the nation sees 20,000 new coronavirus cases per day over the last week, including at least 200 deaths each day during that time frame. “No, I don’t think that is right, but what we are guided by is the rate of the virus,” Raab said in response to whether a national lockdown is inevitable (Reuters). … Europe now has more than 10 million COVID-19 cases, reports the World Health Organization (The Associated Press).  

➔ GUN SALES: 15.1 million weapons have been sold in the United States to date this year, exceeding all firearms sold in 2019 (The New York Times). … People in Washington state and North Carolina explain why they recently became gun owners for the first time, speaking with reporters during the Thursday edition of The New York Times’s “The Daily” podcast. One reason: Worries in the suburbs about the spread of urban unrest and vandalism. … Walmart is removing gun displays from its U.S. stores, citing concerns about civil unrest (The Wall Street Journal).


And finally … Congratulations to the politics-saturated winners of this week’s Morning Report Quiz! They supplied five correct answers without needing multiple choice prompts.

Here’s who recognized which major candidates and one surrogate evoked some ghosts of former U.S. presidents along with some American history this week: Ki Harvey, Stewart Baker, Hanley Smith, Patrick Kavanagh, Jack Barshay, Frank Hatfield, Don Wolfensberger, Terry Plfaumer, Matthew DeLaune, Donna Minter, Norm Roberts, J. Patrick White, Tom Miller, Pam Manges, David Letostak, Daniel Bachhuber, Enzo De Palma, Catherine Houston, John Donato, Kathy Petersen, Dara Umberger, Luther Berg and Rachel A. Tyree.

They knew that President Trump, while campaigning in Pennsylvania on Monday, said, "You know we're the party of Abraham Lincoln, a lot of people don't know that. The great Abraham Lincoln, a man that I've always competed against." 

Democratic running mate Kamala Harris told a Nevada audience this week, “Let’s honor the ancestors, when this year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. … Let’s also, you know, always remember history and facts: Black women couldn’t vote until 1965.”

Former President Obama, with sharp broadsides about his successor, told Florida voters on Monday, “I’ve sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president, and they’re very different people.”

Joe Biden traveled to Warm Springs, Ga., on Wednesday to call for national healing while evoking the 32nd president: “FDR longed to live an independent life, a life that wasn’t defined by his illness. … It was the lessons he learned here that he used to lift a nation.” 

Vice President Pence, while in South Carolina on Tuesday, appealed to conservative voters with a pointed comparison to the 40th president: “Trump has signed the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan.”