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Trump, Biden hit Arizona, Supreme Court makes battleground state rulings

Latest news, polls, analysis and more.
Image: President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of concentric circles made up of blue and red stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The presidential race went west on Wednesday to court voters in the crucial state of Arizona, a swing state where Covid-19 woes could spell trouble for President Donald Trump.

Trump held afternoon rallies in Bullhead City and Goodyear after delivering remarks at his namesake hotel in Las Vegas. Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is visiting Phoenix and Tucson.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news for Thursday, October 29, 2020.

Stories we're following today:

—'Anonymous' revealed

—Supreme Court makes Election Day rulings in two battleground states

—How polling this year is different from 2016

—Latest polls from battleground states and more

—Plan your vote here

—The road to 270: How Biden or Trump could win

Highlights below:

One battleground state, two rallies — and radically different versions of reality

PHOENIX — Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris held rallies 30 miles apart here on Wednesday, six days before Election Day, in this battleground state poised to shape the outcome of the race.

But voters could be forgiven for thinking the candidates were running in two different universes.

In Trump’s world, the coronavirus crisis is exaggerated and the biggest danger to the country is a threat of socialism or communism, while top-of-mind issues include alleged corruption by Joe Biden’s son Hunter and a “deep state” of government officials plotting against the president.

 

In the Biden-Harris world, the pandemic is an overarching issue that is crippling middle class pocketbooks, health care access is threatened by an incompetent president, and the nation is on a knife edge between a return to normalcy and a march to authoritarianism.

Symbolic of the two attitudes, Trump’s rally featured supporters packing into a section of the Phoenix Goodyear Airport, many of them elbow-to-elbow and maskless, while Harris held a drive-in event that was sparse and heavily socially distanced, with attendees covering their faces even when nobody was near them.

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Minnesota governors urge patience on mail-in votes

Harris highlights Democrats' broad coalition

In her second visit to phoenix (the first was her joint event with Biden after the vice presidential debate), Harris entered the stage with artist Alicia Keys and spoke about the broad coalition of support that is backing Biden.

“We've got of course, Democrats. But we've got Republicans, Cindy McCain and Jeff Flake. Independents. People of all backgrounds coming together, understanding what is at stake,” Harris said.

She also repeated her line from earlier today in Tucson that there’s been talk about her values. Tonight in Phoenix, she specially mentioned it was coming from “the current occupant of the White House.”

'Quick, quick, quick': Trump rushes McSally at rally as she fights to hold her Senate seat

President Donald Trump offered a not-very warm welcome to Sen. Martha McSally on Wednesday at his campaign rally in Arizona, where his fellow Republican is trying to hold on to her seat.  

After saying she was "respected by everybody" and "great," Trump rushed McSally to the stage at his Goodyear rally to say a few words. "Martha, just come up fast. Fast. Fast. Come on. Quick. You got one minute! One minute, Martha! They don’t want to hear this, Martha. Come on. Let’s go. Quick, quick, quick. Come on. Let’s go," Trump said.

McSally spoke for just over a minute, and said she was "proud" to work with the president - something a moderator could not get her say during her debate with Democratic challenger Mark Kelly earlier this month. 

After McSally spoke, Trump called up a trio of politicians from out of state to speak- Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. Of the three, only McCarthy is running for re-election in November. All spoke longer than McSally did - as did another guest speaker Trump called, Nigel Farage of Britain's Brexit party. Trump did not rush any of those four.

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump told donors at a fundraiser it was going to be "very tough" for Republicans to keep control of the Senate because there were some he'd have a hard time supporting. "There are a couple senators I can't really get involved in. I just can't do it. You lose your soul if you do," an attendee quoted him as saying. 

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Supreme Court won't block mail ballots in North Carolina arriving up to six days after Election Day

The Supreme Court late Wednesday declined to block lower court rulings that allow six extra days for accepting ballots sent by mail in North Carolina. The justices left the later deadline in place, a victory for Democrats in a presidential battleground state.

Earlier in the day, in a defeat for Republicans, the court declined to take another look, on a fast track, at the issue of late arriving mail ballots in Pennsylvania, leaving intact a lower court ruling that said the state must count ballots that arrive up to three days after the election.

The vote was 5-3 and newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett didn’t take part in the North Carolina case, the court said, for the same reason cited in the Pennsylvania case, “because of the need for a prompt resolution and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings."

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Anxiety 2020: Voters worry about safety at the polls

With Election Day next week, voters can point to plenty of evidence behind the anxiety. More than 226,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, and cases are spiking across the country. A summer of protests of racial injustice and sometimes violent confrontations has left many on edge. Gun sales have broken records. Trump has called on supporters to monitor voting and has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power or to explicitly condemn a white supremacist group.

There was the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and another spate of violent protest this week over a police shooting of a Black man in Philadelphia.

“Human beings don’t do well with uncertainty, and there’s been a lot of uncertainty this year,” said Mara Suttmann-Lea, an assistant professor of government at Connecticut College conducting research on voting. ”Absolutely I’m seeing heightened levels of anxiety ... and it's a more general, existential anxiety — ‘What is the state of our democracy?’"

Those worries have shown up in polling. About 7 in 10 voters say they are anxious about the election, according to an AP-NORC poll this month. Biden supporters were more likely to say so than Trump supporters — 72 percent to 61 percent.

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In Pennsylvania, Obama voters who switched to Trump could hold the key

Trump rips 'Anonymous' author Miles Taylor as a 'sleazebag'

President Trump tore into admitted "Anonymous" author Miles Taylor at a campaign event in Arizona, calling him a "sleazebag" and a "low-level lowlife" who "should be prosecuted."

Anonymous "turned out to be a low-level staffer — a sleazebag who has never worked in the White House," Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Goodyear. He called Taylor "a disgruntled employee" who he was told was fired for "incompetence."

Taylor says he resigned from the Department of Homeland Security in 2019 out of frustration with the Trump administration's directives. 

Trump joked that he thought the person behind a harsh New York Times op-ed and a book called "The Warning" would be somebody higher up. "I thought it might have been Hope Hicks. I thought it might have been Jared," he quipped referring to son-in-law Jared Kushner. 

"The whole thing was just one more giant hoax from the Washington swamp," Trump said. Referring again to Taylor, Trump said, "in my opinion, he should be prosecuted." He didn't say for what.   

 

Supreme Court won't immediately consider whether PA can count ballots that arrive after Election Day

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to take another look, on a lightning fast track, at the issue of late arriving mail ballots in the presidential battleground state of Pennsylvania, leaving intact a lower court ruling that said the state must count ballots that arrive up to three days after the election.

It was the second time Republicans asked the court to roll back the deadline. They lost Oct. 19 on a 4-4 vote, when the justices denied their request to put a hold on a lower court order extending the deadline.

Wednesday’s vote was 5-3, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch saying the court should have taken the case immediately.

In trying again, the Republicans apparently hoped that newly appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett's arrival would give them the fifth vote they need to prevail. But she sat this one out, taking no part in the consideration or disposition of the motion. A court spokeswoman said that was "because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings."

Read more here.