What Now?! – 10/19/2020

USA Today: “As Trump’s support erodes among voters ages 65 and older, women, and suburban voters, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has taken a double-digit lead in several national polls and widened margins in battleground states.”

“The former vice president’s position has brought back memories from 2016 when Democrat Hillary Clinton also led in polls three weeks from Election Day, before Trump’s victory. But Trump faces a problem unlike four years ago: The vast majority of voters – 95% or higher in most polls – say they have already decided who they’re backing and can’t be persuaded.”

“Adding to the troubles for the president: It comes as more than 26 million people have already voted early, fueled by a major advantage for Democrats in mail-in voting.”

Politico: “He’s mused out loud about an embarrassing 2020 defeat. He’s acknowledged his severe deficit in key polls. And he’s made naked appeals to the critical voting blocs of suburban women and older adults — two demographics he has struggled to win over.”

“Just weeks from Election Day, President Donald Trump is saying the quiet part out loud about his own campaign. The president is crisscrossing the country with a packed schedule, flying to some states he won handily in 2016, to deliver a final pitch for a second term — and making no secret of his own shaky standing.”

““Part of the act is tactical, aides say. Trump thrives on being underestimated, and they point to how the president came from behind in 2016. National polls at the time showed Trump lagging against Hillary Clinton in the weeks leading up to the election, yet he continued his marathon of rallies and latched onto news about Clinton that helped him paint a picture of elites in Washington that boosted his campaign. A similar strategy is in play once more, with the president back on the road and focusing his attention on news about the Biden family’s business dealings alongside allegations of his own unfair treatment.”

In a memo obtained by the Washington Post, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon urged supporters to “campaign like we’re trailing” heading into the final weeks of the election.

Wrote O’Malley Dillon: “We cannot become complacent because the very searing truth is that Donald Trump can still win this race, and every indication we have shows that this thing is going to come down to the wire.”

She also warned that there’s no telling what the Trump campaign might do in the final stretch, writing “we cannot underestimate Donald Trump or his ability to claw his way back into contention in the final days of a campaign, through whatever smears or underhanded tactics he has at his disposal.”

Joe Biden is out with a powerful new ad — one of the better ads this cycle.

President Trump told supporters Saturday that there was “something very beautiful” about “watching everybody get pushed around” in Minneapolis as National Guard troops responded to the upheaval after George Floyd’s death, the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “Wasn’t that beautiful? In Minneapolis‚ they came in, these soldiers … And they had their tear gas, and they had their pepper spray, which the other side doesn’t want you to use, because it’s not nice.”

The crowd at President Trump’s rally in Michigan chanted “lock her up,” after the president demanded Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) re-open the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Whitmer quickly responded on Twitter: “This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans.” 

She added: “It needs to stop.”

“President Trump’s political advisers have sharply debated in recent days how to best spend their limited money in the campaign’s last weeks as they seek to chart a path toward a repeat of their dramatic 2016 come-from-behind victory,” the Washington Post reports.

“The final push to calm internal divisions comes as the president is once again barnstorming the country, down in the polls and facing rising rates of coronavirus infection, continued signs of economic distress and an opponent who has so far proved far more resistant to the president’s attacks.”

“White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is leading Trump’s reelection effort, convened an all-hands meeting Thursday morning at the party headquarters in Washington to bring together top advisers for the Republican National Committee and the campaign. At issue was how and where the campaign, which has been operating with sometimes conflicting sets of voter-targeting data, should spend its remaining funds.”

“In recent days, Jared Kushner has brought back 2016 Republican National Committee chief of staff Katie Walsh Shields to offer strategic advice to the Trump campaign,” Axios reports.

Joe Biden uses Donald Trump’s threat to “leave the country” in a new ad.

Joe Biden told Fox 2 Detroit that he plans to make his views on expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court known publicly “in the next several days,” and his comments will be pegged to a vote in the Senate on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.

Said Biden: “I’m going to make clear my position in the next several days when they vote on this nominee.”

He added: “I will lay out exactly what my view is.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) mocked Sen. Kamala Harris’ name as “Kamala-mala-mala-whatever” at a rally for President Trump. They have served together in the U.S. Senate for nearly four years, so he knows how to properly pronounce her name.

Politico: “Mispronouncing Harris’ first name has become a common attack within the Trump camp. The president routinely does so in a mocking way during his political rallies, even though he has correctly said it in less rowdy settings.”

“The health department’s top lawyer is warning in an internal memo that President Trump’s plan to give seniors $200 discount cards to buy prescription drugs could violate election law,” Politico reports.

“The lawyer’s objection, coupled with his advice to seek approval from the Department of Justice, is a significant blow to Trump’s hope to promote the hastily devised plan before Election Day.”

“For nearly four years, congressional Republicans have ducked and dodged an unending cascade of offensive statements and norm-shattering behavior from President Trump, ignoring his caustic and scattershot Twitter feed and penchant for flouting party orthodoxy, and standing quietly by as he abandoned military allies, attacked American institutions and stirred up racist and nativist fears,” the New York Times reports.

“But now, facing grim polling numbers and a flood of Democratic money and enthusiasm that has imperiled their majority in the Senate, Republicans on Capitol Hill are beginning to publicly distance themselves from the president. The shift, less than three weeks before the election, indicates that many Republicans have concluded that Mr. Trump is heading for a loss in November. And they are grasping to save themselves and rushing to re-establish their reputations for a coming struggle for their party’s identity.”

CNN: “It’s a scenario that GOP leaders have been privately fearing for months — and one they had sought to avoid at the beginning of the year. In private, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had counseled his top lieutenants and even President Trump to ensure the party would unite behind one candidate and avoid a messy internecine battle that could imperil the crucial Senate seat.”

“The race presents challenges unlike any other in the country. Since it’s a special election, there is no primary. So to win the November election outright, a candidate must surpass 50% of the vote; if not, the top two candidates face off in a January runoff. Since it’s unlikely that any candidate will reach the 50 percent threshold, both [Rep. Doug] Collins and [Sen. Kelly] Loeffler have been competing intensely to make the runoff by wooing Republican voters and appealing to the conservative base, which represents a slice of the state’s 6.9 million registered voters.”

“That has created an opening for the leading Democratic candidate, Rev. Raphael Warnock, who has been mostly unscathed amid the daily slugfest between Collins and Loeffler, and was rewarded with a Friday fundraiser led by former President Barack Obama.”

New York Times: “The Texas case is one of at least eight major election disputes around the country in which Federal District Court judges sided with civil rights groups and Democrats in voting cases only to be stayed by the federal appeals courts, whose ranks Mr. Trump has done more to populate than any president in more than 40 years.”

“The rulings highlight how Mr. Trump’s drive to fill empty judgeships is yielding benefits to his re-election campaign even before any major dispute about the outcome may make it to the Supreme Court. He made clear the political advantages he derives from his power to appoint judges when he explained last month that he was moving fast to name a successor to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg so the Supreme Court would have a full contingent to handle any election challenges, which he has indicated he might bring in the event of a loss.”

Detroit News: “Michigan voters must have their absentee ballots to local clerks no later than 8 p.m. Nov. 3 after a state Court of Appeals panel on Friday overruled a lower court that had made allowances for late ballots.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) donated money to two QAnon supporters running for state legislature seats, Business Insider reports.  Both candidates have openly embraced QAnon on social media, according to Mainer, which first reported the contributions.

Fresno Bee: “Voters in Rep. Devin Nunes’ congressional district are receiving copies of a 90-page book he wrote criticizing the Democratic Party, and some of his constituents are outraged by the unsolicited mail.”  “The book, Countdown to Socialism, comes with a flier saying the mailing was paid for by Nunes’ reelection campaign.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he “voted for Ronald Reagan” in this year’s election, writing in the name of the late president and conservative icon after concluding that he could support neither President Trump nor Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the Washington Post reports.

“Hogan’s latest rejection of his party’s standard-bearer comes as he works to expand his political network nationwide ahead of a possible 2024 presidential bid, with a flurry of fundraisers this month for GOP candidates from Vermont to Nebraska who also cast themselves as pragmatic Republicans.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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