With just over a week to go until Election Day and millions of people, including President Donald Trump, already casting their ballots at early voting sites or by mail, the candidates are facing enormous pressure to solidify their bases and win over undecided voters.
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Two of Pence's closest advisers test positive for Covid-19
Two of Vice President Mike Pence's closest political advisers have tested positive for Covid-19.
Pence's office said in a statement Saturday night that his chief of staff, Marc Short, "began quarantine" after learning of the diagnosis and was cooperating with a contact-tracing effort.
“Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for COVID-19 today, and remain in good health," vice presidential spokesman Devin O'Malley said in the statement.
“While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel," he said.
Pence still plans to travel to North Carolina on Sunday, his office said.
Additionally, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News that Pence’s senior political adviser, Marty Obst, also tested positive.
Obst was at the debate in Salt Lake City with Pence Oct. 7, posing maskless with him and others after the event. Obst is not a government employee.
Photo: Church and Ohio State
Biden hits Trump as 'weak and chaotic'
Joe Biden passionately went after President Trump, his voice booming and raising, as he called the president a bully like the ones who looked down on him and many of those gathered at the campaign event in Dallas, Pennsylvania, for living by modest means or mocking them for having to pay taxes while Trump evades them.
The Democratic nominee said that Trump sold the American people short during the pandemic, yelling as he said that Trump panicked.
“This guy doesn’t get it,” Biden said before calling the president “weak and chaotic.”
Biden stressed how refreshing it would be to have someone like the people at his rally in the White House.
“It’s about time a state school guy goes to the Oval Office,” Biden said. “If I’m sitting there, you’ll be sitting there with me.”
Biden continued to tick through numerous examples of how Trump has rolled back a number of Obama era policies that have “ripped apart” the country.
“Trump hasn't delivered on a damn thing he’ll do,” Biden said, getting to the crux of his argument about why voters should choose him. “This has to change and it will with me.”
Tailgate or campaign rally?
If it's a Saturday in Ohio, that means campaign rallies are taking on a new twist.
In lieu of Trump's typically pre-rally playlist, the Ohio State-Nebraska game played on large monitors on either side of the podium.
A graphic reading "Big 10 Football is Back" with "President Donald J. Trump" written at the bottom was displayed during commercial breaks. Trump often takes false credit for the football conference playing this season.
And the number of "OH-IO" chants rivaled the "four more years" chants.
Trump will take the stage here in Circleville shortly.
Young Latino voters in Pennsylvania, Florida could tilt race for Trump, Biden
Obama asks voters to imagine what a 'normal' president would feel like
President Obama hit the campaign trial for Joe Biden Saturday, hosting a drive-in rally in North Miami.
Touching on Biden's key campaign themes, Obama encouraged the crowd to imagine what having a "normal" president again would feel like.
"There might be a whole day where they don't tweet some craziness," Obama said. "You'll be able to go about your lives knowing that the president's not going to suggest injecting bleach."
"A Florida man wouldn’t even do this stuff," Obama joked. "Why are we accepting it from the president of the United States? It's not normal behavior."
In a sign of the times, Obama concluded his speech to a loud round of honking from supporters, who watched the event from their cars due to coronavirus concerns.
Ransomware infection leads New York county to ask absentee voters to double-check status
Parts of a New York county's computer systems have been infected with ransomware, potentially impacting voters there who had tried to register to vote by absentee ballot by email.
Chenango County was infected by ransomware the weekend of Oct. 17, John Conklin, the county’s director of public information, said in a statement. The news was first reported by the local Evening Sun.
While the county’s immediate election systems are unaffected, county email systems were, and some voters who had tried to register for absentee ballots by emailing the county may have not properly registered. Such voters should call the county Board of Elections to check their status, Conklin said in a phone interview.
Hall County, Georgia, is also dealing with a ransomware infection that initially slowed its absentee ballot counting, but officials say they’ve since worked through that backlog. Ransomware attacks on local governments are a common occurrence, and there is no indication yet that the recent ransomware infections are part of a widespread and coordinated attack on the U.S. election system.
Voter advocates hoping to stave off intimidation at polls
Voting rights advocates and state officials are on high alert over fears that U.S. polling stations could attract the same strain of partisan violence and civil unrest that erupted on American streets this year, fueled by a deadly pandemic, outrage over police brutality and one of the most contentious elections ever.
Anti-government extremists and other armed civilians have flocked to protests against racial injustice and Covid-19 lockdowns. Paramilitary group members are accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor before the election. President Donald Trump encouraged one far-right extremist group to “stand back and stand by” and called for an army of “poll watchers” to keep tabs on polling places.
While gun rights advocates say fears of violence at the polls are unfounded, the toxic political atmosphere and the prospect of armed poll monitors have some worried it will keep voters from the polls and affect the election.
“Just as an American, the fact that we’re having this conversation is absolutely terrifying to me,” said American University professor Kurt Braddock, who researches extremist groups. “It’s a testament to how far the extreme right has come with getting into this conversation and impacting the way that politics get done here.”
Trump has called for an army of “poll watchers” to go to the polls and “watch carefully.” Monitoring the votes at polling places is allowed in most states, but rules vary and it’s not a free-for-all. States have established rules, in part, to avoid any hint that observers will harass or intimidate voters.
Some states and groups are preparing for that possibility.
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Trump continues to downplay the coronavirus as he ramps up campaign events
President Trump once again spread incorrect and misleading comments about the severity of the coronavirus at his first campaign rally of the day on Saturday, projecting a false sense of normalcy as he fights for his political life.
"That's all I hear about now," Trump said, complaining of the amount of media attention the virus gets as he campaigned in North Carolina. "Turn on television, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid."
On Friday more than 85,000 new cases were reported across the country, breaking an earlier single-day record and casting a shadow on Trump's re-election efforts.
Trump, who was infected with Covid-19, will head to Ohio next this afternoon, where cases are surging.
His campaign rally is being held at a fairgrounds that was linked to 22 cases in June.