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Trump, Biden compete in Midwest battlegrounds

Get the latest presidential election news and campaign updates.
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 competing for voters in crucial Midwest swing states.

Both candidates were in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Trump also visited Michigan and Biden made a stop in Iowa.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news for Saturday, October 31, 2020.

Stories we're following today:

—Latest polls from battleground states and more

—Plan your vote here

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

Minnesota late 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.”

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.

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.

 

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. 

Read more here.

Harry Reid says he hopes Lindsey Graham loses his Senate race

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday that his opinion of his former colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has changed because of his loyalty to Trump.

"I changed because the facts change. Lindsey Graham used to be independent. He was a rebel with John McCain. With John McCain passing he became a sycophant for Donald Trump, goes golfing with him and says all these nice things about him," Reid said during an interview on Peacock TV's “The Mehdi Hasan Show."

"It's hard for me to say this, but I hope that Lindsey loses the race. Cause he certainly deserves to. I lost such respect for him, for how he's become a lap dog for Donald Trump," he added.

Graham is in a competitive re-election race against Democrat Jaime Harrison in South Carolina.

'I'm the guy that ran against socialists': Biden shuts down GOP attacks

Biden on Thursday rejected attacks by Trump and other Republicans that he would impose socialist policies if elected.

The former vice president was responding to a question during an interview with CBS4 Miami Biden about reassuring Cuban and Venezuelan Americans that he is not a socialist.

"Look on my record he's just a lying president. There's not a single solitary thing that I have ever done that anyone's ever remotely, in matter of fact, I'm the guy that ran against socialists, okay?" Biden said, apparently referring to his Democratic primary opponents.

Biden, who did the interview after a drive-in rally in Florida's Broward County, also said that Trump is unable to take on dictators around the world.

"This guy is the worst person to carry the banner of saying he wants to take on dictators and take on socialist because everything he does is consistent with the kind of things they're doing. Slow the vote, talk about not having the vote taking, you know, counting and so on and so forth," Biden said.

Trump campaign official defends rallies despite spiking Covid cases

Trump campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh joins Andrea Mitchell to discuss the state of the race, the president's handling of the pandemic, and react to polling that shows the president's campaign rallies are unpopular with voters due to the potential health risks.

Murtaugh argues the rallies show that "the president represents moving forward as a country," despite the rise in Covid cases, and adds that they provide masks and hand sanitizer to attendees.

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 robo-texting, 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.

Read more here.

Trump has signaled he won't accept an election loss. Many of his voters agree.

Trump has refused to say he'd accept the results of the election if he loses, and in the closing days of the race, some of his supporters have taken his unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud to heart.

At a packed outdoor rally in this battleground state Wednesday, Trump said the polls that show him trailing Joe Biden are "fake," drawing boos from the crowd and raising their expectations of victory. He also said he feared voter fraud, which studies have repeatedly found to be extremely rare.

"The biggest problem we have is if they cheat with the ballots. That's my biggest problem," he told supporters at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport this week. "That's my only thing — that's the only thing I worry about."

Followers are echoing his claims.

In dueling Florida rallies, Trump and Biden paint different pictures of Covid — and America

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 supporters sitting close to one another cheered loudly as the president 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.

"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.