2020 Election Live Updates: As Political World Reacts to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death, Trump Remains Unaware at Rally
President Trump appeared to be unaware of the potentially seismic shift to the balance of the Supreme Court that occurred while he was onstage at an airport hangar in Bemidji, Minnesota, where he launched sexist attacks against Hillary Clinton and stoked fears of a flood of Islamic terrorists that would occur if Joseph R. Biden Jr. were elected.
News that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died of metastatic pancreatic cancer on Friday broke about 15 minutes after he took the stage.
Onstage, Mr. Trump said he wanted to appoint Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to the Supreme Court, and later, he noted that “one of the things we have done that is so good with the Supreme Court, we have two Supreme Court justices. We will have at the end of my term approximately 300 federal judges.”
But he made no mention of what will inevitably be a partisan battle about whether or not Mr. Trump can appoint a third Supreme Court justice in the six weeks before the election.
Instead, he appeared in a joking mood, launching into a string of sexist attacks against women who are not running for president. He noted that Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee, was not “big into yoga,” which she claimed was the subject of many of her deleted emails on her personal server. “If she is, she is not getting her money’s worth,” he said, prompting vintage chants of “Lock Her Up” that the president did nothing to quell. He also inaccurately accused Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York of spending $2 million on “dresses” and rent and resuscitated an inaccurate story about Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota marrying her brother.
In contrast, he portrayed himself as the savior of Big Ten football.
“I am your wall,” he said, “between the American dream and chaos.”
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said late Friday that he would move forward quickly with President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
Mr. McConnell was notably unclear, however, about the timing, whether he would push for such a vote before the election or wait until a lame-duck session afterward. Several of his members face tough election contests and might balk at seeming to rush a nominee through in such highly political conditions.
Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine, the most endangered Republican incumbent, told The New York Times earlier this month that she would not favor voting on a new justice in October. “I think that’s too close, I really do,” she said.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told an interviewer on Friday shortly before the announcement of Justice Ginsburg’s death that she opposed confirming a new justice before the election. “I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee,” she said. “We are 50 some days away from an election.”
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that would consider any nominee, told an interviewer in 2018 that if an opening occurred in the last year of Mr. Trump’s term “we’ll wait to the next election.” Mr. Graham, who is in a competitive race of his own, made no mention of the matter in a statement he issued Friday night mourning Justice Ginsburg.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. and President Trump turned their attention on Friday to Minnesota, where victory eluded Mr. Trump four years ago, with dueling events on the first day of in-person early voting in the state.
Mr. Biden traveled to Hermantown, a suburb of Duluth, where he visited a carpenters’ training center. Later Friday, Mr. Trump was scheduled to hold a rally in Bemidji, about 140 miles to the northwest of Hermantown.
In a speech at the training center, Mr. Biden leaned on his middle-class roots and sketched a picture of a Trump presidency where billionaires reaped financial gains and workers struggled as the coronavirus pandemic raged.
“Like a lot of you, I spent a lot of my life with guys like Donald Trump looking down on me, looking down on the people who make a living with their hands,” Mr. Biden said. “People who take care of our kids, clean our streets.”
He added: “These are the guys that always thought they were better than me, better than us, because they had a lot of money. Guys inherit everything they’ve got and still manage to squander it.”
The competing campaign events on Friday came in a state where Mr. Trump is going on the offensive, even as he simultaneously plays defense in a number of critical battlegrounds like neighboring Wisconsin, just a few miles from where Mr. Biden visited. Mr. Trump lost Minnesota to Hillary Clinton by only 1.5 percentage points in 2016, and the Trump campaign has targeted the state as a pickup opportunity this time around.
But no Republican presidential candidate has won the state since Richard M. Nixon’s re-election in 1972, and Mr. Biden appears to be in a substantially stronger position than Mrs. Clinton was, with time running out for Mr. Trump to improve his fortunes. Mr. Biden held a nine-point lead among likely voters in a poll conducted this month by The New York Times and Siena College.
Senator Kamala Harris of California urged Black Americans to vote on Friday, saying it was “up to us to act” in a forceful call to action for one of the Democratic Party’s most important voting blocs.
Ms. Harris, the vice-presidential nominee, made that point in an op-ed published in The Philadelphia Tribune, in a video appearance to kick off a virtual “Turn Up and Turn Out the Vote” campaign, and in a conversation with the Grammy-winning R&B and pop star Lizzo on Instagram Live.
“One of the reasons that we know we need to vote is to honor the ancestors — those who shed their blood for our right to vote,” Ms. Harris said in her conversation with the musician, who pressed Ms. Harris on the campaign’s ability to energize voters on issues other than unseating President Trump.
“The general consensus right now is, like, ‘Anyone but Trump 2020,’” Lizzo said. “And that’s fine, but I also feel like, you know, the American people deserve more. We deserve a public servant.”
“It really is about lifting up the soul and the condition of the American people and treating people with dignity,” Ms. Harris replied, adding that a Biden-Harris administration would aim to raise the minimum wage to $15, name a Black woman to the Supreme Court, expand health care coverage and invest in low-interest loans for minority-owned businesses.
“The Black community understands just how critical this election is — because we are living the consequences of the last election every day,” Ms. Harris wrote in her op-ed. “When it comes to nearly every issue that affects our lives, we have been disproportionately harmed by President Donald Trump and the failures of his administration.”
Democrats have long relied on Black voters, and Black women are the party’s most loyal demographic base. But whether they are inspired to turn out in great enough numbers to vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. could help determine whether he is victorious in the general election. After a record-setting Black turnout for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, the 2016 election saw a return to pre-Obama levels.
Ms. Harris’s appeals came on the first National Black Voter Day, which was created by the television station BET and the National Urban league and other civil rights organizations “to aid Black citizens against suppression tactics and ensure that their vote counts in the various elections taking place in November.”
Early voting began in four states on Friday, 46 days before Election Day on Nov. 3.
Among the states where voters can now vote in person is Minnesota, where both President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be making campaign stops on Friday. Voters also began casting ballots in South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming.
Elected Democrats, aiming to encourage their supporters to vote early, are eschewing the traditional Election Day photo-op for appearances at early voting sites. In Virginia, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner voted in Richmond and Alexandria, while Gov. Ralph Northam cast his ballot in Richmond, where he was the fifth person in line at 8 a.m.
Mr. Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, tweeted — unsurprisingly — that he had voted early for Mr. Biden and Democrats down the ballot. “What a great day!” Mr. Kaine wrote, describing the experience as “easy” and “convenient.”
Mr. Northam said in a statement that “Virginians can be confident their vote is secure, and will be counted,” and urged “every Virginia voter to know their options and make a plan for safely casting their ballot.”
In most places early voting means going to a City Hall or a local board of elections, though some larger jurisdictions will arrange for regional early vote centers. The pandemic has brought even larger early-vote locations, with some major league sports franchises opening their vacant arenas and stadiums for early voting.
“This is the most important election that I’ve voted in,” said Kate Antonenko, 43, of Minnesota. She went to the City Hall building in New Hope, a suburb of Minneapolis, to cast a vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris on Friday morning.
Ms. Antonenko, an emergency room nurse, said she voted in person as soon as she was able, because she did not want to take any chances. “I didn’t want to be quarantining with Covid come Election Day,” she said. “I didn’t want anything to keep my vote from counting.”
In 2012, Barack Obama became the first president to vote early, casting a ballot for himself at an early-voting site near his home on the South Side of Chicago. President Trump has voted by mail, a process he has publicly denigrated, for recent elections in Florida, which he made his permanent address last year.
Reports on social media suggested that lines to vote in Virginia were long, though that perception may be fueled in part by social-distancing requirements, which require people to space themselves out more than usual.
Democrats and White House officials neared a deal on Friday on a stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded through Dec. 11, according to two people familiar with the plans, but the agreement remained unfinished amid a last-minute dispute over funding for farmers demanded by President Trump.
The text of the deal, which would avert a shutdown at the end of the month, was still being hammered out as some top Democrats resisted Mr. Trump’s push to extend the borrowing authority for a loan program for farmers harmed by his trade policies, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations.
Mr. Trump said he was giving an additional $13 billion of aid to America’s farmers at a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Thursday night, doling out government resources to key supporters as he looks to solidify his rural base ahead of Election Day.
“I’m proud to announce that I’m doing even more to support Wisconsin farmers,” Mr. Trump had said, adding that some of that money would go to dairy, cranberry and ginseng farmers in the state that have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
The money is the latest round of relief for American farmers, who received $19 billion from the economic relief package signed by Congress in March and more than $20 billion over the last two years in payments to mitigate the impact of Mr. Trump’s trade wars.
The Department of Agriculture said on Friday that the money would be coming from the Commodity Credit Corporation, a government enterprise meant to support and stabilize American agriculture, which was replenished as part of the relief legislation.
Some Democrats privately argued that Mr. Trump’s request to extend the borrowing limit for the Commodity Credit Corporation was a blatant bid to curry favor with a politically important constituency six weeks before Election Day, and should not be a part of the plan.
Mr. Trump said, without evidence, on Friday that Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to take money away from farmers.
“Pelosi wants to take 30 Billion Dollars away from our great Farmers,” Mr. Trump tweeted Friday morning, even as aides and lawmakers were working to finalize the agreement. “Can’t let that happen!”
In discussions with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, Ms. Pelosi had floated allowing the program, which is nearing its borrowing limit, to continue processing payments in exchange for allocating $2 billion to a food assistance program for children. But that agreement was not finalized, according to two officials familiar with the discussions, and talks were expected to continue through the weekend.
Despite widespread reluctance to allow federal funding to lapse weeks before the November election, congressional leaders and administration officials have wrestled for days over the contents of a short-term bill and how long it should last.
Democrats hope to unveil the text of the agreement on Monday, and potentially arrange for a vote later in the week. They had initially pushed to extend the money into February in the hopes of hammering out the dozen annual must-pass funding bills under a president of their own party, but ultimately agreed to Dec. 11, setting up a potentially brutal fight over funding a month after voters have their say.
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence pushed officials at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a phone call on Thursday for answers about why they have endorsed roughly two dozen freshman House Democrats, two people familiar with the discussion said.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence jointly called the chamber’s chief executive officer, Tom Donohue, to press him on the endorsements, which have been a source of turmoil since they were announced.
The two asked if the endorsements were a “done deal,” according to one of the people briefed on the call, which was first reported by the website Axios.
In a break with past practice, the chamber — the influential and heavily Republican-leaning pro-business lobby — chose to endorse 23 first-term House Democrats, giving a boost to vulnerable Democratic incumbents and rankling conservatives. As arguably the country’s most powerful business organization, the chamber has disproportionately supported Republican candidates, pumping tens of millions of dollars into their campaigns.
Mr. Donohue walked through their process and explained they were backing almost 200 Republican House members.
But the tension comes as House Republicans are facing a challenging landscape in their efforts to retake the lower chamber of Congress.
While the group has endorsed a smattering of Democrats in recent years, they have represented a tiny fraction of the candidates it has supported.
But since Mr. Trump took office — frequently clashing with Republican orthodoxy on trade and other economic issues — the chamber has made a concerted effort to reimagine the way it evaluates candidates to try to spur bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, on the theory that doing so would better serve businesses.
Conservatives have balked at the shift, trying to derail the endorsement of the Democrats and criticizing the move once it became public.
Officials with the White House and the Chamber declined to comment on the call.
President Trump, who has long held up federal aid to help Puerto Rico recover from back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, announced on Friday that he was finally releasing $13 billion to rebuild its electrical grid and repair schools as he seeks to win over Puerto Rican voters living in the key battleground state of Florida.
For three years, Mr. Trump has been at odds with Puerto Rico, harshly attacking its leadership and blocking or placing restrictions on assistance after Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island, arguing that the island territory had received too much money already. At one point, he even discussed with aides the prospect of selling Puerto Rico rather than be saddled with the cost of recovery.
But with Puerto Ricans who relocated to Florida now a significant voting bloc in one of the most critical states in the fall campaign, the president abruptly pivoted and presented himself as a friend to the island and its people. “I’m the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico,” he claimed. “Nobody even close.”
Few others would agree with that claim, even as Puerto Rico’s government thanked the administration. Others pointed to the campaign as the real motive for finally releasing the aid.
“The Trump administration delayed, dragged its feet and resisted allocating these badly needed funds,” said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a New York Democrat who was born in Puerto Rico. “Now, 46 days before the election, the administration has finally seen fit to release these funds.”
Earlier this week, Joseph R. Biden made his first visit to Florida as the Democratic presidential nominee and shared his plans for Puerto Rico. Biden said he believes statehood “would be the most effective means of ensuring that residents of Puerto Rico are treated equally, with equal representation at a federal level,” and that residents of Puerto Rico must first decide if they want to pursue statehood.
Mr. Biden’s plan also called for accelerated access to reconstruction funding, investments in Puerto Rican infrastructure after devastating hurricanes, expanded health care and nutrition assistance, and efforts to “reduce its unsustainable debt burden.”
People in Mississippi who have health conditions that might put them at higher risk of severe illness from the coronavirus are not automatically permitted to vote absentee under the state’s current law, the state Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
The decision clarified whether a lower court’s ruling would have expanded access to absentee ballots to anyone worried about the risk of contracting Covid-19.
Mississippi requires voters who request absentee ballots to provide an excuse for doing so; it is one of a handful of states that has not expanded access to mail-in voting despite the threat of the coronavirus.
State law allows absentee ballots for people who are 65 or older, those who will be away from home on Election Day or those who have to work when polls are open. Those with a “temporary or permanent physical disability” who cannot vote in person without substantial hardship or risk can also request an absentee ballot.
Over the summer, state lawmakers added provisions to allow absentee voting by people who were under “a physician-imposed quarantine” because of Covid-19 or for those caring for a dependent under a quarantine.
Last month, a group of voters with health conditions, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mississippi Center for Justice, sued the state to expand absentee voting in Mississippi. They argued, in part, that because the state health officer is a doctor, his guidance to avoid large indoor gatherings should count as a doctor’s quarantine order.
As such, they said, absentee voting should be expanded to anyone subject to that guidance.
Earlier this month, the lower court judge, Denise Owens of Hinds County Chancery Court, ruled that four of the voters with pre-existing conditions were eligible to vote absentee, but she rejected the broader expansion of access to mail-in voting.
Still, Mississippi’s secretary of state chose to appeal Judge Owens’s decision, seeking clarity on the scope of the ruling.
In the State Supreme Court ruling, a majority of the justices wrote that “having a pre-existing condition that puts a voter at a higher risk does not automatically create a temporary disability for absentee-voting purposes.”
On June 30, as the coronavirus was cresting toward its summer peak, Dr. Paul Alexander, a new science adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services, composed a scathing two-page critique of an interview given by a revered scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, a 32-year veteran of the C.D.C. and its principal deputy director, had appealed to Americans to wear masks and warned, “We have way too much virus across the country.” But Dr. Alexander, a part-time assistant professor of health research methods, appeared sure he understood the coronavirus better.
“Her aim is to embarrass the president,” he wrote, commenting on Dr. Schuchat’s appeal for face masks in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“She is duplicitous,” he also wrote in an email to his boss, Michael R. Caputo, the Health and Human Services Department’s top spokesman who went on medical leave this week.
Dr. Alexander’s point-by-point assessment, broken into seven parts and forwarded by Mr. Caputo to Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director, was one of several emails obtained by The New York Times that illustrate how Mr. Caputo and Dr. Alexander attempted to browbeat career officials at the C.D.C. at the height of the pandemic, challenging the science behind their public statements and attempting to silence agency staff.
On Wednesday, Mr. Caputo went on leave from the Department of Health and Human Services, just days after he attacked C.D.C. scientists during a bizarre Facebook video in which he predicted armed insurrection after the election and encouraged his followers to stock up on ammunition.
The department also announced that Dr. Alexander would leave the government.
President Trump’s effort to court suburban women by promising to protect their neighborhoods is encountering one sizable hitch: Most suburban women say their neighborhoods aren’t particularly under threat.
Their communities feel safe to them, and they’re not too concerned about poorer neighbors moving in, according to polls in key battleground states by The New York Times and Siena College. They say in a national Monmouth University poll that racial integration is important to them, and unlikely to harm property values or safety. Many have never heard of the federal fair-housing rule encouraging integration that the president has often cited by name in arguing that Joseph R. Biden Jr. would abolish the suburbs.
They’re not even all that worked up about the idea of new apartments nearby, sullying suburbs dominated by single-family homes.
“Nope, not at all. I have no concern whatsoever about it,” said Diane Wonchoba, an independent in the Minneapolis suburb of Blaine. She pointed to an apartment recently built half a mile from her house. “It’s beautiful. Way to go. We built our home, so we were the new people on the block 20 years ago.”
“I don’t even think about it,” said Judy Jones, sounding surprised that she was supposed to be troubled by a series of apartment buildings half a block from her home in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.
Not even for the traffic they cause? Or the strain they put on local schools? “Oh, no,” she said.
Demographic change and new development in the suburbs have no doubt unnerved some longtime residents (and studies suggest those unnerved residents speak the loudest in local politics, often blocking housing that would make communities more integrated and affordable). But those anxieties are hardly proving a decisive force in the presidential election.
If Mr. Trump hopes that fanning fears of suburban decline, following a summer of urban unrest, will help coax back some of the suburban women who have turned away from the Republican Party over the past four years, there is little evidence that it’s working.
In last week’s Times/Siena College polls in Minnesota and Wisconsin — two states particularly affected by unrest — Ms. Wonchoba, Ms. Jones and a majority of other suburban women said they would not be concerned if new apartments, subsidized housing developments or new neighbors with government housing vouchers came to their neighborhoods.
They also said, by a two-to-one margin, that they support government vouchers for lower-income families to live in more affluent communities.
Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely voters from Sept. 10 to Sept. 16.
President Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic has imperiled both his own re-election and his party’s majority in the Senate, and Republican lawmakers in crucial states like Arizona, North Carolina and Maine have fallen behind their Democratic challengers amid broad disapproval of the president, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. led Mr. Trump by wide margins in Arizona, where he was ahead by nine percentage points, and Maine, where he led by 17 points. The race was effectively tied in North Carolina, with Mr. Biden ahead by one point, 45 percent to 44 percent.
In all three states, Democratic Senate candidates were leading Republican incumbents by five percentage points or more. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican seeking a fifth term, is in a difficult battle against Sara Gideon, trailing by five points as voters there delivered a damning verdict on Mr. Trump’s stewardship: By a 25-point margin, 60 percent to 35 percent, they said they trusted Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump on the issue of the pandemic.
The poll, conducted among likely voters, suggests that the most endangered Republican lawmakers have not managed to convince many voters to view them in more favorable terms than the leader of their party, who remains in political peril with less than 50 days remaining in the campaign. Democrats appear well positioned to gain several Senate seats, and most voters say they would prefer to see the White House and Senate controlled by the same party. But it is not yet clear that Democrats are on track to gain a clear majority, and their hopes outside the races tested in the poll largely depend on winning in states Mr. Trump is likely to carry.
Ads backed by Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who briefly ran for president this year, began running in Florida on Friday, part of his pledge to spend $100 million in the key battleground state to support Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s candidacy. One of the first two Bloomberg-backed ads, from Priorities USA Action, attacks President Trump’s bungled response to the coronavirus.
Priorities USA Action, the largest Democratic super PAC, already ran a version of this ad earlier this year — and Mr. Trump hated it so much that his campaign filed a defamation lawsuit in April against a local Wisconsin television station for carrying it.
With deaths from the coronavirus nearing 200,000 in the United States, the updated ad is intended to underscore the extent to which Mr. Trump publicly dismissed the coronavirus even as the death toll in the United States from the virus continued to rise. As ominous music plays, recordings of Mr. Trump’s past remarks about the coronavirus are superimposed over a timeline showing the number of deaths:
“This is their new hoax.”
“We think the deaths will be at a very low number.”
“We have it totally under control.”
“One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
The updated version of the ad includes a recording of Mr. Trump’s damning admission to the journalist Bob Woodward that he had intentionally played down the threat of the virus: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.” It concludes with Mr. Trump asserting that he does not take any responsibility “at all” for the pandemic.
Mr. Trump has consistently minimized the dangers of the coronavirus and asserted that it would disappear on its own. He has dismissed the efficacy of wearing masks, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, gleefully flouted public health guidelines and just this week, publicly undermined Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for contradicting his suggestion that a potential vaccine could be ready for Americans before Election Day.
The trend line shown in the ad tracks with the rising death toll, although Mr. Trump’s quotes do not appear to be pegged to the timeline itself.
Where It’s Running
The ad is airing in markets across Florida.
Mr. Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic has become one of the Democratic Party’s most preferred attack lines with just weeks until the general election. And it is one they hope will be particularly resonant with voters: Polls show many voters are unhappy with how Mr. Trump’s responded to the public health crisis.