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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

Spanish-language disinformation campaigns target Latino voters

 

Late Minnesota absentee ballots must be separated, appeals court rules

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday that Minnesota absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day should be separated from other ballots in case they are later invalidated by a court.

The ruling doesn’t block Minnesota’s seven-day extension for counting absentee ballots outright — but it does order a lower court to issue a ruling to segregate the ballots so they can be “removed from vote totals in the event a final order is entered” that finds them unlawful.

The ruling orders Secretary of State Steve Simon to inform local election officials so they can comply, and sends the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. It also sets the stage for post-election litigation.

The decision is likely to create voter confusion, with people who haven’t returned their absentee ballots scrambling to make sure their votes count. People who are worried their absentee ballots may not arrive on time may drop off their ballots at a designated location, vote early at an early voting station, or vote in person on Election Day.

As of last Friday, more than 500,000 of some 2 million requested absentee ballots remained outstanding. The state was due to update totals on Friday.

“The consequences of this order are not lost on us. We acknowledge and understand the concerns over voter confusion, election administration issues, and public confidence in the election,” the majority wrote. But they said those problems were preferable to a post-election scenario where invalidated and valid votes are mixed.

Harris and Sanders get chummy in talk about $15 federal minimum wage

In a conversation centered around fighting for a $15 federal minimum wage, Bernie Sanders was joined by Kamala Harris to discuss how the Biden-Harris administration would tackle issues like paid family leave, student debt, affordable higher education and helping people decimated by the economic crisis.

A gaping hole in the conversation, was, unsurprisingly, health care, which he didn’t ask about. Sanders’ questions were almost in bullet point form, extremely blunt and short. It was less of a conversation and more of a pop quiz interview. Sanders ended their conversation essentially re-hashing the points Harris made, saying what kind of a difference it would make, calling their ideas a “big step” and “no small thing.”

“When we go to vote, I know we will be talking about Trump all the time. That's fine. It is another thing to talk about what we have to do to improve the lives of tens of millions of people today that are hurting,” he said.

Harris’ answers ran through her usual talking points and policy points on these topics, which was not new. But what was pretty interesting was her and Sanders’ compliments of each other at the top of the conversation.

“The thing about you, Bernie,” Harris said, “You decided to do it from inside the system. And to challenge everyone from inside. I do believe on that debate to stage you and I shared for almost a year in the primary, that the majority of those debates would not have been on the topic of health care in America if not for a discussion that you started and the way you challenged the status quo. And our thinking about what is possible and what the American people are prepared for and what they want.”

“I want to thank you for what you have done and continue to do. You really are a treasure,” Harris said.

Sanders’ response: “I don't want to make this a love fest.”

Biden rally in Tampa cut short due to downpour

Biden sped up his stump speech as fast as he could, but still got caught in a downpour. It was likely a good decision to run out of the rain in Tampa, which is considered the lightning capital of the world.

Kayleigh MacEnany on Trump campaign work: 'I have First Amendment rights'

 

How demographic change favors Biden

Four years ago, President Donald Trump rode strong support from non-college-educated whites to an upset Electoral College win. But changes in demographics suggest that might not be enough this year.

NBC News' Swing the Election analyzes how changes in turnout and candidate support could swing states. The tool, which accounts for demographic shifts since the 2016 election, finds that even if Blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians and other racial groups voted at the same rate they did four years, changes in the electorate since then would be enough to deliver the win to Joe Biden. To get past that, Trump would need non-college-educated whites to increase their turnout by 6 percentage points.

NBC News' Swing the Election analyzes how changes in turnout and candidate support could swing states.

Final debate off between Georgia Senate candidates Purdue and Ossoff

The final debate between Georgia senate candidates Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democratic hopeful John Ossoff is off.

Ossoff tweeted that Perdue cancelled their final debate, adding that at last night’s debate Perdue had, “no answers when I called him out on his record of blatant corruption, widespread disease, and economic devastation.”

Perdue’s spokesman John Burke confirms that the incumbent senator did cancel the debate, but says it’s because President Donald Trump will be in the state campaigning and Perdue intends to be by his side.

While it may look as though Perdue is prioritizing joining Trump at his rally over speaking to Georgians who might have watched the debate, his spokesman points out that “Senator Perdue has over 20 campaign stops planned for the closing days of this race.”

The two faced off on Wednesday night in a fiery debate where Ossoff accused Purdue of being a "crook" in a video clip that's gone viral.

 

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.