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Trump, Biden presidential campaigns in final push

There are only two weeks left until Election Day.
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 heading into the final stretch of the 2020 presidential campaign.

With two weeks to go until Election Day and millions of people 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.

On Thursday, the two candidates will face off in the last presidential debate.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from October 21, 2020.

Read the latest updates from the trail:

711d ago / 4:46 PM UTC

Melania Trump to skip Pennsylvania rally due to cough

Melania Trump will no longer travel to Erie, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday with the president due to a "lingering cough" from her bout with coronavirus," the first lady's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.

"Mrs. Trump continues to feel better every day following her recovery from COVID-19, but with a lingering cough, and out of an abundance of caution, she will not be traveling today," Grisham told NBC News in a statement.

The first lady was expected to join her husband at a Tuesday night rally, her first in over a year.

711d ago / 4:31 PM UTC

Photos: In-person voting begins in Wisconsin

Image: In-person early voting in Milwaukee
Martha Crowley casts her absentee in-person ballot at a polling site Tuesday at the Milwaukee Public Library's Washington Park location on the first day of in-person voting in Wisconsin. Bing Guan / Reuters
Image: US-VOTE-WISCONSIN
Voters wait in line outside the Washington Park Library in Milwaukee to cast their ballots Tuesday. Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP - Getty Images
711d ago / 3:51 PM UTC

Committee on Presidential Debates says final debate was not dedicated to foreign policy

The Committee on Presidential Debates said Tuesday that the final presidential debate was not previously "devoted to foreign or domestic policy."

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien criticized the topics selected by moderator, NBC's Kristen Welker, in a letter. He claimed that both camps agreed the final debate should focus on foreign policy, suggesting that the committee changed the topics to favor Joe Biden. 

"The choice of topics is left entirely to the journalistic judgment of the moderators," the committee said on Twitter. 

Both candidates will answer questions on fighting COVID-19, American families, race, climate change, national security and leadership. 

711d ago / 3:43 PM UTC

The view from one of Pennsylvania's most important swing counties

Few counties across the political landscape are of more importance than Pennsylvania's Erie County — and the county executive says it's going to be a tight race there through the finish.

In 2016, Trump, who won Pennsylvania, prevailed in Erie by about 2,000 votes, a swing from 2012 when former President Barack Obama won by 20,000 votes. This year, both candidates are targeting Erie. Biden having recently visited there, and Trump is set to hold a gathering there Tuesday evening.

"One thing that happened in 2016 from the Democratic side; I think they kind of forgot about Erie County," Kathy Dahlkemper, the county executive and a former Democratic congresswoman, told NBC News. "We had no visits. Of course now it's different, but we had no visits from Hillary Clinton."

Trump has tried to woo the region with promises of coal and steel jobs, and insisted but that Biden would eliminate fracking, but Dahlkemper says that message doesn't fly in Erie County. 

"I believe we're going to take Pennsylvania, but it's going to be a fight and not going to be a blowout," she said. "I just use my visual clues of driving around the county and the signs — people love their signs in Western Pennsylvania."

711d ago / 3:07 PM UTC

Utah gubernatorial opponents appear in joint unity video

The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor in Utah have produced a joint video calling for unity in the face of political disagreement. 

711d ago / 1:58 PM UTC

Two weeks till Election Day, Democrats have a big lead in early voting

Democratic voters have turned in more early votes than Republicans in most states.
Democratic voters have turned in more early votes than Republicans in most states.

Two weeks before Election Day, early votes have come in from almost every state and Democrats have a clear edge in ballots already cast, according to NBC News’ Early Voting tracker.

More than 29 million people from 45 states have voted as of Tuesday morning, either by mail or in-person. Nearly half of those votes — almost 14.2 million ballots — have come from Democrat-affiliated voters. Republican-affiliated voters have returned almost 10.1 million ballots. And while not every Democrat will vote for former Vice President Joe Biden and not every Republican will vote for President Donald Trump, Democrats currently have a 14-point edge in returned ballots.

Read more here.

711d ago / 1:45 PM UTC

After botching past elections, Detroit aims to avoid a 'black eye' in November

Image: A poll worker drowns in a flood of mail-in ballots while juggling paper ballots in his hands.
Adam Maida / for NBC News

Two months ago during Michigan’s primary, a record number of absentee ballots overwhelmed city election workers, who were short-staffed and ill-prepared because of Covid-19. Exhausted workers, processing ballots all day and into the following morning in this massive, concrete basement, had made so many errors that 72 percent of the city's absentee-ballot counting boards were out of balance, meaning the number of votes recorded did not align with the number of ballots cast.

Donald Trump won Michigan four years ago by just 10,704 votes. If the election doesn’t go his way this time, he and his supporters — already on high alert from the president’s repeated unfounded assertions that Democrats will try to rig the election — are sure to scrutinize how the ballots were tallied in Detroit. The state’s largest city is overwhelmingly Democratic, and Joe Biden is likely to get more votes in Detroit than in any other city in the state.

So when city and state election officials announced last month that they needed thousands of energetic election workers to help address the problems that undermined the August primary, they were flooded with applications.

Read more about how Detroit is preparing for Election Day.

711d ago / 1:27 PM UTC

Demonstrations planned for outside Thursday night debate

Protesters are planning to gather outside Nashville's Belmont University on Thursday night as the school plays host to the final debate between Trump and Biden. 

The protest is being organized by a group called "Be Better Belmont," which is trying to draw attention to systemic racism both at the school and in the city of Nashville. 

“We’re demanding transparency in governing the finances of the institution. We’re asking for accountability,” Safara Parrott, an organizer of the protest, told News 4 Nashville.

Read more on WSMV.com

711d ago / 1:25 PM UTC

Lindsey Graham's challenger, Jaime Harrison, has put S.C. back in play for Democrats

Image: Democratic Challenger To Lindsey Graham, Jaime Harrison Holds Drive-In Campaign Event
Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison addresses a drive-in rally in North Charleston, S.C., on Saturday.Cameron Pollack / Getty Images

Kenyatta Grimmage likes to talk politics with his customers during the 20 or so minutes it takes to give each of them a haircut at Howard’s Barber Shop, which is Black-owned and also a school for apprentice barbers that takes up two small ranch homes along a busy roadway near the Charleston Naval Weapons Station.

In recent years, the conversations have been pessimistic about the state of politics in Washington, but Grimmage, 39, said there's been a noticeable shift in tone in recent weeks. It’s something he’s never seen before — an excitement to vote, particularly in the tight race for South Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat between the Republican incumbent, Lindsey Graham, and his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison.

The Harrison-Graham race has gained national attention for the tight polling numbers between a well-known GOP stalwart seeking his fourth term who has aligned himself closely with President Donald Trump, after losing the party's presidential nomination to him in 2016 and denigrating Trump as the party's standard bearer, and an insurgent Democrat whose message of resetting the political conversation has helped him raise an eye-popping $57 million in the final weeks of the race.

Read about the state of the race.

711d ago / 1:01 PM UTC

Trump says Biden has 'gone into hiding' as the former VP preps for debate

Talking for more than 45 minutes on Fox News' "Fox and Friends" on Tuesday, Trump said that Biden is "imploding" and has "gone into hiding." 

Biden's campaign says he has not held campaign events this week because he's preparing for the final debate against Trump on Thursday night. 

"We’re gonna win the election, we're doing very well. If you look at all of what's happening and all of the people that come in and don't come in, you take a look all around the country," Trump said. 

He added that the 2020 race is about “the great American Dream versus being a socialist hellhole because they're going to turn us into a socialist nation. We're going to be no different than Venezuela.”

711d ago / 12:22 PM UTC

Sen. Loeffler under fire in free-for-all Georgia Senate special election debate

Image: Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) speaks after being endorsed by Georgia Republican House candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene during a joint press conference
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., speaks on Oct. 15 in Dallas, Ga.Dustin Chambers / Getty Images

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins both accused the other of lying and touted their own conservative credentials in their first debate, while Democrat Raphael Warnock assailed Loeffler for associating herself with a congressional candidate who has embraced baseless QAnon conspiracy theories and made racist remarks.

Tense exchanges flew in all directions Monday afternoon, as six top candidates in the crowded special election for the U.S. Senate seat Loeffler was appointed to 10 months ago sparred over President Trump’s coronavirus response, the Black Lives Matter movement, support for police and economic recovery.

Loeffler, a wealthy businesswoman, was appointed in part by Gov. Brian Kemp last year to help Republicans in Georgia appeal to moderate suburban voters. But since then she has been running to the far right while trying to fend off the challenge from Collins, one of Trump’s most visible defenders in the U.S. House.

Read more on the debate.

711d ago / 12:18 PM UTC

Some states count ballots if voter dies before Election Day

Questions over whether ballots will count if someone votes early but dies before Election Day are especially pressing this year, amid a coronavirus outbreak that has been especially perilous for older Americans.

People 85 years and older represent nearly one in three deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. As an election looms, the odds against older people who contract the virus are on the minds of the elderly and their family members.

Seventeen states prohibit counting ballots cast by someone who subsequently dies before the election, but 10 states specifically allow it. The law is silent in the rest of the country, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Read the story.

711d ago / 11:41 AM UTC

Biden leads Trump in new national poll

Biden tops Trump by 9 percentage points, according to a new national poll of likely voters by The New York Times and Siena College released Tuesday. 

The poll found 50 percent support Biden while 41 percent back Trump. The survey also found that voters prefer Biden over Trump to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and trust him to unite the country, to choose Supreme Court nominees, and to maintain law and order. 

The survey's margin of error is +/-3.4 percentage points. 

And see the NBC News national polling average in the presidential race here

711d ago / 11:30 AM UTC

Former RNC chair Michael Steele endorses Biden

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Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has endorsed Joe Biden, the first such endorsement of a Democratic presidential nominee in the modern era.

Steele was elected party chairman in 2009 as the GOP sought to regroup from President Barack Obama's historic victory in 2008 and he presided over the RNC as it marshaled tea party opposition to the Obama-Biden administration to make significant gains in Congress and across the country in the 2010 midterms.

A former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Steele lost a 2006 bid for U.S. Senate in the heavily Democratic state. He has become an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, serving as a senior adviser of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC. But until Tuesday morning he had not officially endorsed Biden.

His backing comes as the Trump campaign has sought to make inroads among African American voters, especially younger Black men who have tended to support Biden in lower numbers than other age groups.

Because of his role with the Lincoln Project, it's unlikely Steele, who is also a political analyst for MSNBC, would play a direct role in Biden's campaign or act as a surrogate. But he informed the Biden campaign of his plans to publicly support him.

711d ago / 11:00 AM UTC
711d ago / 10:51 AM UTC

Biden, Trump in dead heat in North Carolina, poll finds

Biden and Trump are in a dead-heat in North Carolina, according to a ABC News/Washington Post poll in the battleground state released Tuesday. 

The survey found 49 percent of likely voters back Biden while 48 percent said they support Trump. The competitive Senate race between incumbent GOP Sen. Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham is also close, with 49 percent for Cunningham and 47 percent backing Tillis. 

The NC poll has a margin of error of +/-4.5 percentage points.

And here's the latest from the NBC News national polling average in the presidential race.  

711d ago / 10:31 AM UTC

Scenes from a MAGA

Image: Donald Trump
Reflected in a supporter's sunglasses, President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Tucson, Ariz. on Monday.Alex Brandon / AP
Image: US-VOTE-TRUMP
Supporters of President Donald Trump at the rally.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images
Image: DOnald Trump
Trump waves to a cheering crowd as he arrives. Ross D. Franklin / AP
Image: Maga rally, US-VOTE-TRUMP
Supporters are handed signs as they wait to hear the president speak. Olivier Touron / AFP - Getty Images
711d ago / 10:19 AM UTC

'A Republican bloodbath': GOP senators fear painful Trump defeat

Republican senators are increasingly voicing fears that Trump could lose the election, and some are openly fretting that he'll turn the party's candidates into electoral roadkill, distancing themselves from him to an unusual extent.

A weekend of agonizing from Republicans did not yield any perceivable course correction from Trump as he continued his inflammatory rhetoric on the campaign trail and directed some of his fire right back at anxious GOP senators on Twitter.

Read more here.

711d ago / 10:17 AM UTC

Trump and Biden will have mics cut during opponent's answers in final debate

Trump and Biden will have their microphones cut off during Thursday's final presidential debate while their opponent delivers initial two-minute answers to each debate topic, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday.

Trump and Biden's only previous debate last month was marred by frequent interruptions from Trump, leading to calls for the debate moderator to have the ability to cut off each candidate's microphone while their opponent spoke.

Read more here.

711d ago / 10:16 AM UTC

Trump ramps up rally strategy that may come with more risk than reward

In Trump's favored narrative of how elections are won and lost, the candidate who holds the most events with the biggest crowds wins.

"He goes out, he gets no people at any of the rallies," Trump said of Biden at a Sunday campaign event in Nevada. "I go out, we get 35,000. 40,000, 25,000, 15,000. We go boom, 15,000, we get the biggest crowds in the history of politics...We get these massive crowds, he gets nobody and then they say we are tied."

Now, with two weeks to go, he heads into the final stretch of the race relying heavily on his rallies to change the dynamic of the contest — a risky strategy for a persistently unpopular candidate, and one that has failed to demonstrate success in moving voters into his column.

Read more about Trump's rally push here.

711d ago / 10:14 AM UTC
711d ago / 10:12 AM UTC
711d ago / 10:11 AM UTC
711d ago / 10:10 AM UTC

Biden outspent Trump on the airwaves in every key battleground state over past week

Biden's presidential campaign has outspent Trump's on television and radio ads in every key battleground state over the last seven days as the Trump re-election effort continues to fall behind the Democrat in fundraising. 

Over the last seven days, Biden outspent Trump in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin, per the latest figures from Advertising Analytics.

That's every single state listed as a toss-up or leaning Democrat/Republican by the Cook Political Report

Read more here.

711d ago / 10:07 AM UTC

Biden, Trump reach out to Puerto Rican voters

Before the first day of early in-person voting began in Florida on Monday, the Biden and Trump campaigns stepped up their efforts to mobilize Puerto Rican voters on the mainland U.S. — including targeting Puerto Ricans on the island, hoping they will nudge their relatives stateside to vote.

It's a unique tactic that has not been used with this intensity in previous election cycles. But with swing-state Florida's 29 electoral votes at stake, both campaigns are zeroing in on Puerto Ricans, whose population in the state is about 1.2 million.

On Monday, Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, was in the Puerto-Rican heavy city of Orlando, where she slammed Trump for having "inside information" that the coronavirus was much deadlier than the flu and not letting the public know. Harris, who said health care, climate change and criminal justice were on the ballot, also gave an interview to one of Puerto Rico's main news outlets, WAPA TV.

Just over a week ago, Vice President Mike Pence hosted a Latinos for Trump event there.

Read more about the candidates' efforts to court Puerto Rican voters here.

711d ago / 10:05 AM UTC

Melania Trump returning to campaign trail after lengthy absence

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President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail last week with a flurry of appearances and his family members have fanned out to events across the country, but one of his key surrogates has been notably absent: first lady Melania Trump.

On Tuesday, she will attend her first rally in more than a year, accompanying her husband to Erie, Pennsylvania, according to the White House.

Since March, Melania Trump has played a very limited public role as the incumbent first lady, opting to stay away from the political events the president has dedicated most of his time to in the final months of the election.

Read more about the first lady's return to campaigning.