President Trump is seeking to recapture the last-minute energy that lifted him to a surprise win four years ago, undertaking an aggressive schedule of rallies that will bring him to some of the country’s top battlegrounds even as coronavirus cases surge.
The president will start on Saturday in Lumberton, a town in North Carolina, one of the most important states for determining not only the next president but also control of the United States Senate, with Senator Thom Tillis locked in a tight re-election race against his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham.
From there, Mr. Trump is off to Circleville, Ohio, outside of Columbus, and then Waukesha, Wis. On Sunday, He will fly to New Hampshire, the lone state on his weekend itinerary that he did not carry in 2016. The hopscotching schedule is reminiscent of 2016, when Mr. Trump flew from state to state for multiple events a day in his private plane.
Except then there was no pandemic, and this time the final stages of the presidential race are coinciding with a surge in cases and hospitalizations. “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away,” Mr. Trump claimed inaccurately at Thursday’s debate.
The virus’s surge ensures that even Mr. Trump’s well-attended rallies can be a political liability, a reminder to voters fearful of the pandemic of his regular disregard for expert and public health advice.
His rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., will return to the campaign trail after a week dominated by debate preparations and capped by a speech on Friday in Delaware on the coronavirus, which the former vice president has made a centerpiece of his campaign and his closing argument. His opening line at the debate was counting the 220,000 dead Americans. “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” he said.
On Saturday, Mr. Biden will make two stops in Pennsylvania, both for drive-in rallies, a new style of event that his campaign has popularized during the pandemic. The first will come in Bucks County, outside of Philadelphia, and the second in the northeastern county of Luzerne, a former Democratic stronghold and one of three Pennsylvania counties that Mr. Trump flipped in 2016.
Pennsylvania is a top focus for the Biden campaign. Along with Mr. Biden’s appearances this weekend, Senator Bernie Sanders will be in western Pennsylvania on Saturday, holding a get-out-the vote event in Pittsburgh and a drive-in rally with the state’s lieutenant governor.
In a sign of Pennsylvania’s potential as the 2020 tipping point, the Biden campaign dispatched President Barack Obama there earlier in the week for his first in-person event of the general election. On Saturday, Mr. Obama will be in Miami for his second in-person event.
President Trump traveled to West Palm Beach, Fla., on Saturday morning to cast his ballot in the 2020 election early and in person after spending months making unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud during an election in which polls have shown him to be trailing Joe Biden.
Mr. Trump cast his ballot at the West Palm Beach Main Library, roughly a year after he changed his primary residence to Palm Beach, Fla., from Manhattan. Early voting centers opened in the critical battleground state on Saturday, but millions of Floridians have already cast their ballots by mail.
“I voted for a guy named Trump,” the president said, according to a pool report. Mr. Trump also noted that his experience had been “perfect” and that “it was a very secure vote.”
JUST VOTED. A great honor!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2020
Mr. Trump wore a mask during the morning stop, the pool report also said. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, told the pool reporter that there was no one else inside the library voting at the same time as Mr. Trump and that he had cast a paper ballot.
Mr. Trump cast a ballot by mail in August during Florida’s primary, despite having repeatedly argued, without evidence, that mail voting invites fraud. More broadly, Mr. Trump has asserted that the 2020 election will be “the most corrupt election in the history of our country.”
In fact, there have been numerous independent studies and government reviews finding that voter fraud is extremely rare in all forms, including mail-in voting.
On Saturday morning, the president’s motorcade departed Mar-a-Lago at 9:43 a.m. and arrived at the library roughly 10 minutes later. Mr. Trump’s supporters were waiting at the site and cheered his arrival, according to the pool report. The motorcade departed around 10:20 a.m. and was proceeding toward the Palm Beach airport.
The president is expected to appear later on Saturday in Lumberton, N.C., and then head to Ohio and Wisconsin, a trifecta of crucial swing states.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. began the campaign’s penultimate weekend by heading to the critical battleground of Pennsylvania on Saturday, where he addressed a drive-in rally in the Philadelphia suburbs.
“It may come down to Pennsylvania,” Mr. Biden said at a community college in Bucks County, which Hillary Clinton won by a razor-thin margin in 2016. “And I believe in you. I believe in my state.”
Mr. Biden’s remarks to the crowd gathered in Bristol Township were punctuated by the beeping of car horns, which have become a familiar soundtrack at his drive-in events in the weeks before Election Day. “I wish I could go to car to car and meet you all,” Mr. Biden said. “I don’t like the idea of all this distance, but it’s necessary. I appreciate you being safe. What we don’t want to do is become superspreaders.”
Speaking from a stage decorated with pumpkins and hay bales, Mr. Biden laced into President Trump over a number of subjects, including his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that more new cases were reported across the country on Friday than on any previous day.
He also assailed the president over his foreign business dealings, alluding to a recent New York Times report revealing that Mr. Trump maintains a bank account in China.
“He’s paid 50 times more in taxes in Beijing than he’s paid in America,” Mr. Biden said.
And once again, Mr. Biden tried to fend off attacks from Mr. Trump over his position on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an important source of jobs in a number of states, including in Pennsylvania.
“I’m not banning fracking in Pennsylvania or anywhere else,” Mr. Biden said. “And I’m going to protect Pennsylvania jobs, period.”
Mr. Biden was joined at the rally by his wife, Jill Biden, who grew up in the Philadelphia area. Later on Saturday, they planned to attend another drive-in rally in Luzerne County, Pa., where they will be joined by Jon Bon Jovi. Luzerne County is near Mr. Biden’s hometown, Scranton, and it is among the counties that Mr. Trump flipped in 2016.
A state appeals court in Texas blocked Gov. Greg Abbott from limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county, upholding a lower-court ruling and setting up a likely showdown at the Texas Supreme Court.
The expected appeal by Mr. Abbott, a Republican, to the state’s highest court means the existing additional drop boxes in other counties are unlikely to be in operation immediately, if at all.
This month, Mr. Abbott issued an executive order that limited drop boxes in Texas to one per county, regardless of the county’s population. As a result, major population centers like Harris County, home to 4.7 million people and the second-most populous county in the country, had to consolidate to one ballot drop-off location from 12.
The decision led to a long line of snaking cars around Houston’s NRG Arena, the lone drop-box location for Harris County, and an outcry from voting rights activists, who said that limiting the number of boxes amounted to voter suppression.
But though the edict from Mr. Abbott lessened the options to drop off ballots, voters in Harris County have been turning out in record numbers. According to state records, 6.4 million ballots have already been cast in Texas, and nearly 90 percent of those have been cast in person. More than one million people have voted in Harris County alone.
Many voting rules have changed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, making it harder than usual to figure out how to cast your ballot. So we did the work for you, in hopes of helping to make sure your vote is counted.
A lawyer for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner threatened Friday to take legal action against the Lincoln Project, a super PAC made up of anti-Trump conservatives, unless the group removes a pair of large billboards from Times Square in Manhattan.
One of the billboards shows a smiling Ms. Trump, the president’s eldest daughter, gesturing toward national and statewide tallies of coronavirus deaths.
Another features a smiling picture of her husband, Mr. Kushner, alongside a quote saying that New Yorkers “are going to suffer and that’s their problem.” Below the quote is a series of body bags.
The quote is taken from a Vanity Fair article published in September about Mr. Kushner’s role in the federal coronavirus response. The article claims that Mr. Kushner accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of failing to “pound the phones hard enough” for coronavirus protective equipment for New York, then added, “His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”
The threatening letter from Marc E. Kasowitz, a New York lawyer who represents the couple and has worked for President Trump in the past, called the ads malicious and defamatory.
“Of course, Mr. Kushner never made any such statement; Ms. Trump never made any such gesture, and the Lincoln Project’s representation that they did are an outrageous and shameful libel,” Mr. Kasowitz’s letter read. “If these billboards are not immediately removed, we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages.”
The Lincoln Project tweeted out the letter on Friday night, along with a statement that promised to leave the billboards in place.
“Jared and Ivanka have always been entitled, out-of-touch bullies who have never given the slightest indication they have any regard for the American people,” the statement read in part. “We plan on showing them the same level of respect.”
The Times Square billboards were erected this week at the corner of 44th Street and Broadway, as part of a series of advertisements that the Lincoln Project has been running across the country.
With the presidential race hurtling into its final stretch, Joseph R. Biden Jr. sought on Friday to amplify the closing argument he delivered on the debate stage a night earlier, accusing President Trump of failing to stem the ballooning coronavirus crisis and vowing more aggressive federal action for the “dark winter ahead.”
In a speech near his home in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden denounced Mr. Trump’s familiar assertion that the pandemic was “rounding the corner” and “going away” even as cases surge across the country, placing the blame for the rising death toll squarely at the president’s feet.
“As I told him last night,” Mr. Biden said of the Thursday night debate, “We’re not learning to live with it. We’re learning to die with it.” He noted the more than 220,000 people who have already died from the virus.
Arguing that the coronavirus “isn’t showing any signs of slowing down,” Mr. Biden repeated with a tone of incredulity Mr. Trump’s comments earlier in the week that he would do “not much” differently if he were given the opportunity for a do-over.
“As many as 210,000 avoidable deaths, and there’s not much he would do differently?” Mr. Biden said, citing figures from a recent study out of Columbia University. “If this is a success, what’s a failure look like?”
During his address, Mr. Biden laid out the immediate steps he would take to rein in the coronavirus if elected. He also said he would ask Congress to put a bill on his desk by the end of January outlining the resources needed for the country’s public health and economic response to the virus.
Mr. Biden said he would ask every governor to institute mask mandates; if they refused, he said, he would work with local officials to get local mandates in place nationwide. And he said he would require masks in federal buildings and on interstate transportation.
Once again connecting the future of the Affordable Care Act to the Supreme Court battle, Mr. Biden warned that overturning the health law would mean people would have to pay for a potential coronavirus vaccine and vowed to make it free for everyone.
With only 11 days left until Election Day, Senator Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, took her party’s case to Black voters in Atlanta, where she once again called President Trump a racist.
“People have asked me,” Ms. Harris told the crowd at an outdoor rally at Morehouse College “Do you think he’s a racist?”
“Yes, yes,” she said, answering the question.
“Because you see, it’s not like it’s some random one-off,” she said. “We’ve seen that pattern. Going back to him questioning the legitimacy of Barack Obama. Going back to Charlottesville.”
And, she added, “Donald Trump said there are fine people on both sides.”
With Mr. Trump aggressively courting Black voters, Ms. Harris addressed those in the crowd who might be considering voting for the president’s re-election.
“We need a president who acknowledges systemic racism, who acknowledges the history of America,” she said, “and uses that bully pulpit and that microphone in a way that speaks truth with an intention to address the inequities and bring our country together.”
With polls showing Mr. Biden tied with Mr. Trump in Georgia, Ms. Harris urged the crowd to honor civil rights leaders by voting.
“It has to do with those men and women who shed blood on Edmund Pettus Bridge and so many other places,” she said. “We’re not going to let anyone mess with our right to vote.”
Ms. Harris, a graduate of Howard University, a historically Black institution, met earlier in the day with student leaders from historically Black colleges and universities as well as other Black voters from various walks of life.
After leaving Morehouse, Ms. Harris stopped at a mural honoring Representative John Lewis of Georgia, who was among civil rights activists who were attacked on the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965.
Saturday in Georgia is known as “Mandatory Saturday” voting, because polling locations will be open in all of the state’s 159 counties. Already, 2.3 million people in Georgia have cast early ballots.
The Biden campaign continues to dominate the paid media landscape in the final stretch of the 2020 campaign.
On television and radio, the Biden campaign spent $54.3 million over the past week — from Oct. 16 to Oct. 23 — according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm. The Trump campaign spent about $21 million over the same period, according to the firm.
The advantage holds on Facebook, where the Biden campaign has spent roughly $8.7 million over the past week, and the Trump campaign has spent $5.4 million over the same period on the platform.
The spending gaps reflect the starkly different financial situation that the two campaigns find themselves in with just 10 days remaining before Election Day. Joseph R. Biden Jr. entered October with a campaign war chest almost triple the size of President Trump’s — $177 million to $63.1 million — and has leveraged that advantage on air as Mr. Trump’s team has been forced to cut millions of dollars in previously reserved television ads.
That the Trump campaign finds itself in a cash crunch at such a pivotal time in the race is all the more striking given that, as the incumbent, Mr. Trump had a multiyear fund-raising head start on Democrats and had at one point raised more than $1 billion dollars for his re-election. But that financial advantage has evaporated, forcing Mr. Trump to recently remove himself from the campaign trail last week and make a stop in California to raise more money.
New Yorkers flooded polling places on Saturday, the first day of early voting in the state, anxious to make sure their ballots are counted given the challenges of holding a contentious presidential election in the middle of a pandemic.
By 9:30 a.m., shortly before the polls opened, more than 300 people had already lined up in front of Madison Square Garden, a vast majority of them wearing face masks and trying their best to follow social-distancing rules. Less than 15 minutes later, the line had grown by more than 100.
At the back of the line, Aaron Weston, 50, said he was prepared to wait as long as needed to cast his early vote.
“I didn’t want to let everything going on with the coronavirus stop me from doing it again this year — especially when it’s so important,” Mr. Weston said.
There were similar long lines at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, The Armory in Washington Heights and other major sites around the city.
Saturday was the first time New Yorkers were allowed to vote early in a presidential election, which is expected to produce record voter turnout. As many as 3.3 million people out of 4.7 million active New York City voters, or 70 percent, are expected to vote by mail or in person, according to one estimate.
Recent mishaps involving absentee ballots drove many voters to the polls on Saturday. This week, some voters said they did not trust that their votes would be counted if they mailed in absentee ballots. Late last month, the city’s Board of Elections came under fire after as many as 100,000 voters in Brooklyn received absentee ballots with the wrong names and addresses.
During the June primaries, the elections board, a quasi-independent agency controlled by the two major parties, failed to send mail-in ballots in time to an unknown number of voters. It also took more than six weeks to finalize the results in key congressional Democratic primary races because of an influx of absentee ballots.
The recent failures and reports of long lines and waits in other parts of the country, most notably in Georgia and Texas, have raised fears that New York’s early voting might be marred by glitches.
Voters will have until Nov. 1 to cast their ballots. The nine-day early voting period is aimed at increasing voter participation by making voting more convenient. Depending on the day, early voting sites will open as early as 7 a.m. and remain so until as late as 8 p.m., including this weekend and next.
Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting
FRANKLIN, Wis. — President Trump had just been on “Fox and Friends,” demanding that his attorney general “act” against his opponent before the election. He had, the day before, called Joseph R. Biden Jr. a “criminal,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci a “disaster,” government scientists “idiots” and members of the news media “real garbage.”
Ivanka Trump, meanwhile, was visiting suburban Milwaukee and here for none of this.
“I learned that the first ice cream sundae was created in this amazing state!” the president’s oldest daughter and senior White House adviser said from a small stage of a sunlit function room overlooking a pond.
There would be no mentions of Hunter Biden in here, no reference to Hillary Clinton, nothing about “Barack Hussein Obama,” China Virus, witch hunts, fake news, Antifa or rigged elections.
Instead, the first daughter came armed with local fun facts and pleasing asides speaking to white, suburban female voters who have become her father’s demographic kryptonite. They have been fleeing his coalition with such abandon that he has recently been reduced to begging. “Suburban women, will you please like me?” the president pleaded at a rally in Pennsylvania last week.
By wide margins, they do not, especially the white suburban voters who went for Mr. Trump last time. A remarkable 56 percent of white women said they held a very unfavorable view of the president in a New York Times/Siena College poll. These include many independents and former Republicans who self-identify as moderate or conservative and are likely to be put off by the president’s more boorish inclinations.
As much as it’s possible, the Trump campaign is trying to deploy the first daughter as a demographic paratrooper targeting at-risk women of the changing suburbs.
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