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Last 24 hours reveal the stark differences between Trump and Biden

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
President Donald Trump speaks in the James S. Brady Briefing Room of the White House on Aug. 31, 2020.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — In one of the most revealing 24 hours of the general election and the sprint to Election Day, one presidential nominee condemned violence and destruction from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Violence will not bring change, only destruction. It's wrong in every way. It divides instead of unites,” Joe Biden said Monday in Pittsburgh.

The other presidential nominee seemed to defend violence from the right.

“That was an interesting situation you saw the same tape as I saw, and he was trying to get away from them I guess it looks like,” President Trump said of 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with murder for killing two men. “And he fell, and then they very violently attacked him ... He probably would have been killed but it's under, it's under investigation.”

One nominee has spoken with the family of Jacob Blake, the Kenosha, Wis., man shot in the back by police.

The other one hasn’t. “They wanted me to speak but they wanted to have lawyers involved and I thought that was inappropriate so I didn't do that,” Trump said.

One nominee has demanded better policing practices. “The violence we’ve seen again and again and again of unwarranted police shootings and excessive force,” Biden said.

The other compared Blake’s shooting to a golfer missing a putt. “They can do 10,000 great acts, which is what they do, and one bad apple or a joker — a choker — choker. Shooting the guy in the back many times ... There's a whole big thing there, but they choke just like in a golf tournament, they miss a 3-foot ...”

And one presidential candidate decided to stay away from Kenosha — at least for the time being.

The other is headed there today, despite the city’s mayor and state’s governor asking him not to come.

The NBC/WSJ poll on crime and race

With his comments yesterday and his visit today, Trump wants to make the issue of urban unrest and violence a key part of the final nine weeks of the presidential contest.

But from our own polling, this issue is — at best — break-even for Trump.

And at worst, it’s another liability for him.

According to our August NBC News/WSJ poll (conducted before the violence in Kenosha), Trump held a 4-point advantage over Biden when it comes to which candidate better handles crime, with 43 percent picking Trump and 39 percent Biden.

But on uniting the country, Biden’s edge over Trump was 23 points, 49 percent to 26 percent.

And on race relations, Biden’s lead over Trump is 24 points, 53 percent to 29 percent.

So despite the conventional wisdom, it’s not clear at all this issue is a winner for Trump.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

6,055,732: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 35,031 more than Monday morning.)

184,776: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 467 more than Monday morning.)

77.7 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

1.1 million: The number of children (plus the 75,000 teachers) in the New York City public school system, which is re-opening next week.

52 percent: the number of Americans who say they will vote early in person or by mail this year, according to the new NBC|SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking Poll.

40: The number of states that signed up for the expanded unemployment program under President Trump's executive actions.

2020 Vision: Mass(achusetts) Appeal

It’s Primary Day in Massachusetts, where Democrats are having two very different primaries.

The Massachusetts Senate primary features incumbent Sen. Ed Markey — one of the longest-serving members of Congress (first joining the House in 1973) — and the scion of the Kennedy family in Joe Kennedy III.

From the start, Kennedy cast himself as part of the next generation of progressive voices, an implicit dig at Markey despite little real policy differences. And in the early months of the campaign, Kennedy seemed to have the edge in polling.

But Markey closed the gap in recent months with a hard embrace of his progressive chops, some strong debate moments, viral videos, and a boost from progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and affiliated groups that are rallying around their ally and promoting his work on issues like the Green New Deal.

Now, all of the recent public polling shows Markey with the edge.

In Massachusetts’ competitive House primary, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass. — chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee — is getting a primary challenge from the left in Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.

Earlier this month, students at UMass-Amherst accused Morse of inappropriate relationships with college students, but later came evidence that the charges might have been manufactured up by Neal supporters, though the Neal campaign has denied any involvement.

Neal has the endorsements from Pelosi, as well as Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

Tweet of the day

Ad Watch from Ben Kamisar

Today’s Ad Watch attempts to answer a question we’ve raised for weeks — why is the Trump campaign not running TV ads in Michigan or Pennsylvania?

Team Trump announced a new buy on Monday in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Minnesota, once again skipping over two of the Rust Belt states that were key to Trump’s victory in 2016.

The campaign hasn’t spent a dime on the airwaves in either state in more than a month, per Advertising Analytics. And on Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien let us know why — he told reporters on a conference call that if Trump can hold all the states he won in 2016, then he only needs to win one of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to win re-election.

That’s true: Flipping Michigan and Pennsylvania blue gives Trump exactly 270 electoral votes. But especially considering the thin margins Trump won by in those states in 2016, that strategy is quite a needle to thread.

McGahn McGone

The Trump administration scored a win against Congress on Monday when a federal appeals court ruled that the House Judiciary Committee had no authority to sue former White House Counsel Don McGahn for refusing to testify. You can read more from NBC’s Pete Williams here.

House Judiciary Democrats had said they wanted McGahn to testify about President Trump’s actions mentioned in Robert Mueller’s report. McGahn didn’t respond to voluntary requests for documents and then the committee issued a subpoena. However, the appeals court said Congress has never given committees the type of power to file lawsuits like these.

“We note that this decision does not preclude Congress (or one of its chambers) from ever enforcing a subpoena in federal court," the ruling said. "It simply precludes it from doing so without first enacting a statute authorizing such a suit.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

As Pennsylvania’s eviction moratorium expires, residents worry about their future.

American, Delta and United have all erased change fees as they look to regain footing amid the coronavirus.

With the president focusing on winning Minnesota, strategists say the state is tightening.

California saw an 18-percent increase in coronavirus deaths from July through August, with August the state’s deadliest month.