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Election live updates: Trump campaigns in three swing states; Biden in Pennsylvania, Obama to Florida – The Washington Post

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It’s a busy day on the campaign trail as the candidates and their surrogates fan out across the country to make their final pitches to voters in battleground states.

President Trump voted Saturday morning in West Palm Beach and then has a trio of appearances in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. Vice President Pence is headlining two rallies in Florida.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden returns to his native Pennsylvania for events in Bucks County and Luzerne County, two areas crucial to winning the important state. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) has a speech in Cleveland, former president Barack Obama has a drive-in rally in Miami and singer Cher is holding a Biden event in Las Vegas.

Back in Washington, the Senate is debating the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court with a final vote expected on Monday.

With 10 days until Election Day …
  • Biden has surged ahead of Trump in donors — including in the states that matter most
  • Senators engage in bitter floor feud over the Barrett nomination
  • As Obama stumps for Biden, he is also campaigning to protect his own legacy
  • Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points nationally, 52 percent to 43 percent, according to an average of national polls since Oct. 12. Biden’s margin in the battleground state of Michigan is 10 points. It’s eight points in Wisconsin, seven in Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.
October 24, 2020 at 2:09 PM EDT
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Trump campaign seeks to block counting of early mail-in votes in Clark County, Nev.

By Derek Hawkins

The Trump campaign is asking a judge in Nevada to halt early mail-in ballot-counting in Nevada’s most populous county, alleging in a lawsuit filed Friday alongside state Republicans that election officials have not allowed “meaningful observation” of the process.

The lawsuit accuses the county registrar of voters, Joseph Gloria, of obstructing the observation process by failing to submit a plan for allowing outside observers to monitor the tallying of ballots in the Democratic-leaning county.

In addition to Gloria, the filing names Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, as a defendant. A volunteer poll watcher and Nevada voter, Fred Kraus, is listed among the plaintiffs.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, a state judge declined the Trump campaign’s request to immediately stop the count. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday, the Nevada Independent reported.

Representatives from Clark County and the Nevada secretary of state’s office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford, a Democrat, called the Trump campaign’s efforts “illegitimate” in a tweet Friday following the judge’s decision.

“A ‘proper procedure’ is in place,” Ford said. “Again I say, we will always protect the right to vote, and we won’t let it be suppressed.”

The Trump campaign and the Nevada GOP claim election officials have barred observers from accessing areas where ballots are reviewed to determine whether they will be counted. The lawsuit says observers have been stationed 25 feet from certain processes, where they can’t see computer screens or observe calls.

The plaintiffs also object to the manner in which election officials are matching signatures. The county reportedly relies on computers for signature-checking — equipment used in many jurisdictions around the country.

“Transparency is paramount to ensure Nevadans the right to a free and fair election,” Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael J. McDonald said in a statement. “Clark County’s refusal to allow people to observe the handling of ballots and their low standards for matching signatures should disturb all voters.”

October 24, 2020 at 1:33 PM EDT
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s reelection bid is second most expensive House race in the country

By Colby Itkowitz

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is expected to handily win reelection, but that hasn’t stopped donors on both sides from pouring millions into the race.

The New York liberal became an overnight sensation two years ago when she burst onto the political scene after beating an establishment Democrat in the primary. She has since become an icon for the left and a punching bag for the right.

Her stardom has allowed her to raise $17.3 million, while her Republican opponent John Cummings, a former high school teacher and former police officer, has raised $9.6 million. The total raised this cycle in the race is $30.8 million, making the noncompetitive contest the second most expensive in the country, according to Opensecrets.org data.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is incredibly popular in her district — she won 75 percent of the vote in the primary against a well-financed challenger — retweeted the New York Times story that first reported on her challenger’s fundraising.

“One perk about a GOP motivated by hatred is that it’s irrational and unstrategic. All these millions Republicans are hate-pouring into my race (just for shady DC consultants to scoop up & burn) is less money channeled for them in tight swing races. Please keep it up!” she tweeted.

Ocasio-Cortez also wrote that while her GOP challenger is spending the money on television ads and expensive mailers, she has directed her campaign funds to census outreach efforts and a coronavirus relief operation for her constituents.

“So when people donate on my side, it yields real benefits for people & the party,” she wrote. “When GOP hate-donate, they just set money on fire. ”

October 24, 2020 at 12:53 PM EDT
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Biden says his first-term priorities would be the coronavirus, climate change, green infrastructure

By Amy B Wang

Biden said his first-term priorities would include tackling climate change, investing in infrastructure and curing cancer. But his “number one” focus would be controlling the coronavirus, which has killed more than 220,000 Americans.

“Get control of coronavirus. Without that, nothing else is going to work very well,” Biden said on “Pod Save America,” a podcast hosted by former Obama administration aides.

In a 30-minute interview released Saturday morning, Biden drew more contrasts with Trump, whose priorities for a second term include establishing a permanent manned presence on the moon and sending the first manned mission to Mars, according to the Republican Party.

The questions were fairly soft: Biden was introduced as “the first person to ever win three presidential debates in only two attempts” and asked why he had not brought up the activities of Trump’s adult children.

“I just think it’s crass,” Biden responded. Trump tried to make the business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter an issue during Thursday night’s debate.

Biden discussed in some detail his desire to invest in green, renewable energy such as wind and solar, and to turn chicken manure into pellets of reusable fertilizer.

Biden urged people to make a plan to vote and to persuade others to do so as well. Young people in particular, he said, could “own the outcome” of the election.

“For those who’ve already voted, it’s not enough, God love ya, it’s not enough that you voted,” Biden said. “You got to go out and get your friends. You’ve got to go out and get your family. You’ve got to go out and get people.”

October 24, 2020 at 12:47 PM EDT
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Security company that sought ex-Special Forces to guard Minnesota polls agrees to stay out of state, attorney general says

By Derek Hawkins

A private security company that tried to recruit former U.S. military Special Operations personnel to guard polling sites in Minnesota on Election Day agreed Friday to cancel its plans following an investigation by Attorney General Keith Ellison (D), who warned that the effort would amount to voter intimidation.

In a settlement announced by Ellison, the company, Atlas Aegis, said it would not provide security services in the state from now through Jan. 1, 2022. The Tennessee-based company also pledged that it would not seek to intimidate voters in connection with the election.

“Minnesota and federal law are clear: it is strictly illegal to intimidate or interfere with voters,” Ellison said in a statement. “I want to make it crystal clear to anyone who is even thinking about intimidating voters that I will not hesitate to enforce the laws against it to the fullest extent.”

October 24, 2020 at 12:35 PM EDT
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Biden holds car rally in Bucks County, says election ‘may come down to Pennsylvania’

By Amy B Wang

Biden had harsh words for Trump at his first campaign stop Saturday, a car rally in Bucks County, Pa., saying the president continues to botch his response to the coronavirus crisis and is uninterested in providing economic relief to families suffering during the crisis.

“I told him at the debate, we’re not learning how to live with it. We’re learning how to die with it. And it’s wrong,” Biden said.

As he had at the debate, Biden warned of a “a dark winter ahead … all because this president cares more about the stock market than he does about you.”

He accused Trump of spending time on the golf course or in his bunker rather than trying to work on another stimulus package. He also knocked Republicans for saying they had no time to work on such legislation, but they did have time to expedite confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

“If they get their away, over 100 million Americans, including 5.3 million Pennsylvanians, will lose their coverage for preexisting conditions that we worked so hard to provide,” said Biden, who vowed to expand the Affordable Care Act if elected.

He also emphasized that he would not ban fracking in Pennsylvania “or anywhere else.” The issue of fracking came up in Thursday night’s debate, when Trump accused the former vice president of saying he would ban the process in which liquids are injected at high pressure into the ground to widen fissures, allowing the extraction of oil and natural gas. Biden has said that he would prohibit new leases for fracking on federal land.

The rally had all the hallmarks of a Biden event during the pandemic. Cars lined up in the parking lot of Bucks County Community College so that attendees could remain distanced. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, took the stage wearing face masks but removed them to speak.

“I don’t like the idea of all this distance, but it’s necessary,” Biden said to a cacophony of honks. “What we don’t want to do is become superspreaders.”

Both campaigns have been focused in recent weeks on Pennsylvania, a key battleground state with 20 electoral votes. In 2016, Trump narrowly lost Bucks County, just outside Philadelphia. During the rally Saturday, some Trump supporters waving large Trump banners drove their cars around the lot and honked as Biden was speaking.

“We have 10 days left. And it may come down to Pennsylvania,” said Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pa. “And I believe in you; I believe in my state!”

October 24, 2020 at 11:58 AM EDT
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Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner threaten lawsuit over Times Square billboard

By Colby Itkowitz

In the middle of Times Square are two massive billboards, one of a smiling Ivanka Trump next to the number of U.S. and New York coronavirus-related deaths, and the other of Jared Kushner, also grinning, next to a quote sounding cavalier about New Yorkers suffering from the pandemic.

The larger-than-life signs were placed by the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans who have made it their mission to produce ads intended to get under Trump’s skin.

This one did.

Marc E. Kasowitz, a lawyer for the president’s daughter and her husband, sent a letter to the organization threatening to sue if the billboards aren’t taken down, which the Lincoln Project posted on Twitter.

“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,” Kasowitz wrote. “If these billboards are not immediately removed, we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages.”

The image of Ivanka Trump gesturing toward the tally of the dead is lifted from a photo she took promoting Goya beans, which government watchdog groups said broke ethics laws. The quote attributed to Kushner that New Yorkers “are going to suffer and that’s their problem” is from a September Vanity Fair article. The article claims Kushner, in criticizing New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said, “His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”

The Lincoln Project released a statement that the billboards will remain up, saying it intends to make this “civics lesson” in the First Amendment “as painful as possible.”

“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. “We plan on showing them the same level of respect.”

October 24, 2020 at 10:41 AM EDT
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Trump casts ballot in Florida for a ‘guy named Trump’

By Colby Itkowitz

Trump cast a paper ballot in Florida at the West Palm Beach Main Library, using the moment to attack voting by mail as he has for months to sow doubt that the election results will be fair.

“It was a very secure vote, much more secure than when you send in a ballot, I can tell you that,” Trump said. “Everything was perfect, very strict, right by the rules; when you send in your ballot, it could never be like that.”

Trump has voted by absentee ballot in the past, including in the Florida primary in August. Defending his own use of mail-in voting, he often claimed there was a distinction between voting absentee due to not being in the state on Election Day and the widespread vote-by-mail effort occurring this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump told reporters it was “an honor to be voting.” When asked who he voted for, he said, “I voted for a guy named Trump.”

October 24, 2020 at 10:23 AM EDT
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Lou Dobbs urges South Carolina to vote out Lindsey Graham

By Colby Itkowitz

Fox Business host and Trump ally Lou Dobbs lashed out at Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) on Friday and said South Carolina voters shouldn’t reelect him.

“Graham has betrayed President Trump at almost every turn,” Dobbs said on his show. “He has betrayed the American people and his oath of office. He’s done absolutely nothing to investigate Obamagate except to tell everyone stay tuned, time and time again. Stay tuned. Senator Graham needs to be tuned out in South Carolina.”

Dobbs brought up Trump’s disdain for Graham when the two were at odds during the 2016 election, saying the president’s contention then that Graham was “one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen” and “a nut job” still “apply today.”

An eagerness to bring the heads of the social media sites before the Senate panel intensified this week after they limited the distribution of a questionable New York Post article about Hunter Biden. Conservatives have long alleged the platforms have an anti-conservative bias.

Senators, however, are anxious to get back out on the campaign trail with just over a week left before Election Day. They remain in Washington over the weekend to debate the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. A vote is expected Monday.

Graham himself is in a closer-than-expected race with Democrat Jaime Harrison, who has outraised the senator.

October 24, 2020 at 10:04 AM EDT
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Here’s what we know about the health of Trump and Biden

By Toluse Olorunnipa and Michael Kranish

Trump and Biden have both battled life-threatening illnesses at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a facility they entered 32 years apart with uncertainty about whether they would return alive.

For Trump, his diagnosis with covid-19 earlier this month was his most serious known brush with a fatal disease, and his rapidly dropping oxygen levels sparked serious concern among his top aides and doctors. For Biden, emergency surgery for two brain aneurysms in 1988 posed the risk of impaired cognitive capabilities, or worse. Although he fully recovered, the situation was so dire at the time that a priest was brought in to deliver last rites.

Both episodes have become political fodder for opposing sides less than two weeks ahead of a presidential election in which the two septuagenarian candidates are competing for a chance to be the oldest sitting president in American history. More broadly, the health of each man has become a central component of an increasingly negative race in which questioning an opponent’s fitness for office has taken a personal turn.

October 24, 2020 at 10:02 AM EDT
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Trump’s assault on disloyal federal workers has been in the works for four years

By Lisa Rein, Josh Dawsey and Toluse Olorunnipa

Trump’s extraordinary directive allowing his administration to weed out career federal employees considered disloyal in a second term is the product of a four-year campaign by conservatives working from a ­little-known West Wing policy shop.

Soon after Trump took office, a young aide hired from the Heritage Foundation with bold ideas for reining in the sprawling bureaucracy of 2.1 million came up with a blueprint. Trump would hold employees accountable, sideline their labor unions and give the president more power to hire and fire them, much like political appointees.

The plan was a counterweight to the “deep state” Trump believed was out to disrupt his agenda.

The result this week threatens to be the most significant assault on the nonpartisan civil service in its 137-year history: a sweeping executive order that strips job protections from employees in policy roles across the government. Exactly which roles would be affected will be up to personnel officials at federal agencies, who were tasked on Friday with reviewing all of their jobs and deciding who would qualify.

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