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Election 2020: Trump, Biden hold dueling Florida rallies

The candidates are running a tight race in the key battleground state.
Image: President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of concentric circles made up of blue and red stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden are holding dueling rallies on Thursday in the key battleground state of Florida, where polls show a virtual tie.

Trump and Biden held events earlier in the day in Tampa and Coconut Creek, respectively. Biden will also traveled to Tampa later in the day for remarks that were cut short due to rain.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news for Friday, October 30, 2020.

Stories we're following today:

Hackers stole millions from Wisconsin GOP

—Heat at Trump rally sends a dozen attendees to the hospital

—Latest polls from battleground states and more

—Plan your vote here

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

Heat at Trump rally sends a dozen attendees to the hospital

A crowded Trump rally in steamy Tampa, Florida, on Thursday resulted in 17 attendees needing medical attention, with a dozen being taken to the hospital, fire officials told NBC News.

Trump spoke for just under an hour in 87-degree heat at the event outside of Raymond James Stadium to a largely mask-less group of supporters.

A fire truck at the rear of the rally sprayed water in the air to rain down on some rallygoers, but the heat was too much for some attendees, many of whom had been waiting for hours. Tampa Fire Rescue said one of the attendees fainted and another had a seizure. The other 10 who were taken to the hospital were just listed as "sick" with no other details.

 

The incident came two days after 30 rallygoers in Omaha, Nebraska, needed medical attention after transportation issues resulted in hundreds of attendees being stuck for hours in the freezing cold. Officials said seven were taken to area hospitals with a variety of ailments.

Click here for the full story. 

How a fake persona laid the groundwork for a Hunter Biden conspiracy deluge

One month before a purported leak of files from Hunter Biden's laptop, a fake "intelligence" report about him went viral on the right-wing internet, asserting an elaborate conspiracy theory involving former Vice President Joe Biden's son and business in China.

That report, a 64-page document that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump, appears to be the work of a fake "intelligence firm" called Typhoon Investigations, according to researchers and public documents.

The author of the report, a self-identified Swiss security analyst named Martin Aspen, is a fabricated identity, according to analysis by disinformation researchers, who also concluded that Aspen's profile picture was created with an artificial intelligence face generator. The intelligence firm that Aspen lists as his previous employer told NBC News that no one by that name had ever worked for their company, and no one by that name lives in Switzerland, according to public records and social media searches.

One of the original posters of the report, a blogger and professor named Christopher Balding, took credit for writing parts of the document when asked about it by NBC News, and said that Aspen does not exist.

Despite the report's questionable authorship and anonymous sourcing, its claims that Hunter Biden has a problematic connection to the Communist Party of China have been used by people who oppose the Chinese government, as well as by far-right influencers, to baselessly accuse candidate Joe Biden of being beholden to the Chinese government.

Read more here.

Sick of getting texts from the Biden or Trump campaigns? You're not alone

Voters’ phones have been vibrating and beeping for months with texts from political campaigns — mostly from volunteers they don’t know asking for money and votes — and many of them are about fed up.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic put a damper on in-person campaigning and volunteering, the text message was set to be a top political tool of the 2020 election season. New software allows one person to text many others without running afoul of federal rules against robotexting, and campaigns have been seizing on it since 2018 or even earlier.

But Covid-19 has supercharged texting as a campaign weapon, turning virtual text-banking — where volunteers coordinate their messages and share tips while sitting comfortably at home — into this year’s equivalent of knocking on doors or stuffing envelopes.

“I don’t think anyone really foresaw how important texting would be this cycle,” said Roddy Lindsay, cofounder of Hustle, a tech startup in San Francisco that offers texting software.

Read more here.

Trump officials end gray wolf protections across most of U.S.

A beta male grey wolf fends off an alpha female advance in fresh winter snow, in Montana circa 2008.Dennis Fast / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images file

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Trump administration officials on Thursday stripped Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in most of the U.S., ending longstanding federal safeguards and putting states and tribes in charge of overseeing the predators.

The U.S. Department of Interior announcement just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election could lead to resumption of wolf hunts in MichiganMinnesota and Wisconsin — a crucial battleground in the campaign between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

It's the latest in a series of administration actions on the environment that appeal to key blocs of rural voters in the race’s final days, including steps to allow more mining in Minnesota and logging in Alaska.

Read the story.

Michigan court rejects appeal on gun ban outside polling places

DETROIT — The Michigan appeals court on Thursday rejected an appeal from a Democratic state official who wants to ban the open carry of guns outside polling places. The court, in a 3-0 order, said voter intimidation already is illegal and declined to hear the case.

“Anyone who intimidates a voter in Michigan by brandishing a firearm or, for that matter, by threatening with a knife, baseball bat, fist, or otherwise menacing behavior, is committing a felony under existing law,” the court said.

The order came two days after a judge said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had exceeded her authority in prohibiting the open carry of guns within 100 feet of a polling place.

Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray said the policy didn’t go through a formal rule-making process required under Michigan law.

Benson acted after federal authorities said they broke up a scheme to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said it would appeal the decision immediately to the state Supreme Court.

“We intend to immediately appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court. Just today, a poll released by the Detroit News and WDIV-TV indicated that 73% of Michigan voters say openly carried guns should be banned near polling places,” he office said in a statement. “The merits of this issue — which impacts all Michiganders — deserves full and expedited consideration by our State’s highest court.”

Crew member on Doug Emhoff's support plane tests positive for Covid-19

A flight crew member who traveled on the support plane for Kamala Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff, tested positive for Covid-19, the Biden campaign announced Thursday.

Emhoff tested negative Thursday, as did Harris, the campaign said, and his travel to Ohio was delayed but not canceled.

Two members of Emhoff’s traveling staff and other flight crew members were in close contact with the infected person and are being asked to quarantine, but Emhoff was not near the person or on the plane, Biden's campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, said in a statement. 

"He was not in close contact with this individual, and did not even have passing contact with them at any point," O’Malley Dillon said. "Therefore he is not required to quarantine. As part of his regular testing protocols, Mr. Emhoff underwent PCR testing for Covid-19 today and Covid-19 was not detected." 

Early voters cast ballots at baseball parks, sports arenas

Some early voters are heading to theaters, stadiums, and ballparks to cast their ballots in iconic locations, as event centers have opened up as polling locations. Josh Lederman speaks to voters casting their ballots at Washington’s Nationals Park.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump held dueling rallies in Florida

Joe Biden and Donald Trump held dueling rallies in Florida on Thursday, painting a stark contrast for their visions of the U.S. and the Covid-19 pandemic in the key battleground state just five days before Election Day.

"I know it's hard. Over the past few months there’s been so much pain, so much suffering, so much loss," Biden said at an event in Coconut Creek. "Millions of people out there are out of work, on the edge, can’t see the light of the end of the tunnel, and Donald Trump has given up."

Trump, meanwhile, held a “Make America Great Again” rally in Tampa, where a large crowd of mostly unmasked fans sitting close to one another cheered loudly as Trump touted his own quick recovery from Covid-19 — a virus that has so far, in the U.S., sickened nearly 9 million people and killed more than 229,000 people.

"You know the bottom line, though?" Trump told the crowd. "You're gonna get better. You're gonna get better. If I can get better, anybody can get better. And I got better fast."

Read more here.

Bloomberg makes final push in Florida as he reaches $100 million pledge for Biden

WASHINGTON — With five days to go until Election Day, Michael Bloomberg is making a final push to mobilize Black voters in Florida as part of the culmination of his $100 million spending pledge to help former Vice President Joe Biden in the battleground state.

Bloomberg will donate an additional $600,000 to BlackPAC, helping expand the organization’s canvassing efforts in Duval and Leon counties, a Bloomberg aide told NBC News exclusively. The aide added that Bloomberg's own PAC, Independence USA, is expanding its radio buy by up to $500,000 in the final days with two new mobilization ads featuring former President Obama’s recent remarks in Miami and Orlando, targeting Black voters in those cities.

Bloomberg’s total Florida investment helped fund voter persuasion and mobilization efforts through canvassing programs, bilingual paid media, and direct mail campaigns targeting underrepresented voters, according to media reports, press releases and interviews with NBC. 

"There is virtually no path to victory for Donald Trump without Florida, which is why Mike invested heavily in the state," Bloomberg senior adviser Kevin Sheeky told NBC.

Read more here.

Senate race in Montana closer than anticipated

The Senate race in Montana is closer than anticipated with Republican incumbent Steve Daines facing a challenge from Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Montana reporter Mike Dennison asks “The question is … how many voters are going to vote for Trump, then turn around and vote for Governor Bullock?”

On this day in 2004 George W. Bush's approval rating sat at 49 percent

The year was 2004 and an incumbent President George W. Bush faced then-Senator John Kerry in an election Bush would go on to win.

Bush's approval rating, which peaked in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, steadily declined for most the rest of his presidency. The approval poll from Oct. 29-31 2004 put Bush's approval rating at 49 percent.

By comparison, President Donald Trump's approval rating, currently at 44 percent, has hovered in the mid- to low-40s for his entire presidency.

Track the approval ratings for all the recent presidents at the NBC News presidential approval rating tracker.