Donald Trump’s presidential motorcade departed the White House at the top of the hour for today’s trips to Michigan, Wisconsin and an overnight in Las Vegas.
Ahead of departure, Jared Kushner could be seen walking back and forth next to waiting cars as he chatted on his cell phone and took a quick selfie. He was wearing in a light ski jacket.
Later Stephen Miller could be seen heading for the cars with a bag in each hand.
The reason for the motorcade instead of Marine One is the White House 2020 Fall Garden Tours. It is a beautiful fall day for it.
Trump is holding rallies around the country to try to secure key battleground states that he won four years ago. The former New York businessman prevailed in Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016 but surveys show him running behind Biden, the Democratic candidate, in those states this year.
The president’s advisers have long seen Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as Pennsylvania, as key to his chances of re-election. The president is also playing defense in traditional Republican strongholds, including Arizona, where he plans to campaign on Monday, and Georgia, where he campaigned on Friday night.
Thousands of travelers have already taken advantage of Hawaii’s new testing program that allows visitors to bypass the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine if they test negative for Covid-19 at least 72 hours before their arrival.
On Thursday, the program’s first day, about 8,300 passengers came through the state’s local airports. Over the last few months, about 100 visitors a day arrived in the islands.
Since March, travelers looking to experience their dream Hawaiian getaway were looking at a 14-day quarantine once they touched down in the Hawaiian islands. By July, nearly 200 people were arrested for breaking quarantine, which required people to shelter-in-place as soon as they left the airport. As a result, the number of visitors crashed down from nearly 862,572 in January to 22,344 visitors in August, bringing down with it the state’s economy that relied on the $17-billion tourism industry.
Hawaii is just coming down from an influx of cases of Covid-19 that it saw in the summer. At its peak in August, the average number of new cases a day was 250. Recently, the number has climbed down to around 90 cases per day. Since the number of visitors flying into the islands was so low, community transmission played a major role in the spread of the virus.
Some have spoken out about the program leading to increased cases if travelers end up contracting the virus before they arrive in the islands and after they take a test. But local leaders are generally enthusiastic about the program, particularly its potential to get the state’s economy rolling again after a months-long halt. The state had a 12.5% unemployment rate in August, the fourth highest of any state, down from its peak of 13.9% in June.
More than 68,000 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the US on Friday, the highest number in a single day since July, further confirmation the country is in the midst of a coronavirus resurgence.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project, the last time the US saw close to 68,000 new cases in a day was 31 July, when a summer peak was starting to recede.
“You can’t enter into the cool months of the fall and the cold months of the winter with a high community infection baseline,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, on Friday, while discussing the difficulties the virus will present in the coming weeks.
Fauci has said repeatedly that the US is still in its first wave of coronavirus, pointing out that case numbers have not dipped to a low enough point to constitute an end to that first phase. On Friday, the US hit a global record of total cases, 8 million since March, with a death toll close to 220,000.
Joe Biden has continued his attack on what his campaign see as a weak spot for Donald Trump: the Covid-19 pandemic. On Saturday, Biden tweeted out a video of Trump saying America is “rounding a corner” in the fight against the virus. Headlines are then displayed detailing the rise in cases of the coronavirus across America. The video ends with three words: “Clueless. Dangerous. Reckless”.
Black voters in North Carolina are disproportionately having their mail-in ballots flagged for potential rejection in the battleground state, setting off alarms about disenfranchisement.
North Carolina requires mail-in voters to get a witness for their ballots and at least 7,000 mail-in ballots have been flagged across the state because of a deficiency, according to data collected by Michael Bitzer, a professor at Catawba College who closely tracks voting data in the state. As of Wednesday, 40% of rejected ballots – 2,871 – were from Black voters, even though they comprised only 16% of the overall ballots returned. (A spokesman for the state board of elections cautioned some of the data may be outdated because local election offices have not been entering rejection data into the statewide system while legal challenges are pending.)
Postal voting will play a huge part in this year’s election. Photograph: Lynne Sladky/AP
The Rev Anthony Spearman, the head of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, attributed the higher rate at which Black voters’ ballots were being flagged to the fact that African Americans traditionally have not widely voted by mail in the state, instead opting for in-person voting. Many voters are getting tripped up by the state’s requirement that mail-in voters get a witness to sign their absentee ballot, he said.
“The African American community, many of them for the first time, are utilizing absentee ballots and have not been cultivated to the practices thereof. There is a level of them being not aware of the process and how it goes and so they’re not filling out their forms correctly,” he said.
Just 3% of the Black voters whose ballots were flagged for rejection voted by mail in 2016, according to data collected by Bitzer.
“Voting by mail is very different than voting in person,” Bitzer said. “Until I’m presented otherwise I have to think lack of familiarity with the vote method process is probably what is hanging up so much of these ballots.”
The North Carolina data underscores the conundrum Democrats are facing this year as they encourage supporters to cast their votes by mail amid concerns about Covid-19. A mail vote is more likely to be rejected than an in-person one and research has shown that first-time voters and minorities are all much more likely to have their ballots rejected.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, arguably the most powerful person in the Republican party and a ruthless political operator, is up for reelection this November and holds a 12-point lead over his challenger, Amy McGrath.
However, one of the largest newspapers in his home state of Kentucky has endorsed McGrath’s candidacy.
“During his 36 years in office, McConnell has made it perfectly clear that his only passion is the pursuit of power, his own and that of the Republican Party,” the Lexington Herald-Leader wrote in its editorial. “For that reason alone, we would endorse his opponent.
“Luckily for voters, McGrath, a former fighter pilot and public servant, would make an excellent senator who would actually put the needs and interests of Kentuckians above her own.”
In 1994, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware stood proudly behind Bill Clinton as he signed into law a reform bill that touched nearly every aspect of the US criminal justice system.
More than 25 years later, amid national protests against racial injustice in law enforcement, the Democratic presidential nominee is grappling anew with the implications of legislation he helped author and which experts say opened the door to an era of mass incarceration that devastated African American communities.
Biden sought to defend the bill as a product of a different era, while arguing that elements of it were wrongly implemented.
Pressed by the moderator, George Stephanopoulos, to say if his support for the bill had been a mistake, Biden replied: “Yes, it was.
“But here’s where the mistake came,” he said. “The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally.”
In an eight-minute response, Biden said the bill passed with the support of the Congressional Black Caucus and Black mayors around the country. He noted that it contained the landmark Violence Against Women Act and an assault weapons ban.
Conditions were different now, he said, as activists demand an overhaul of policing and incarceration policies in response to police killings of Black Americans.
A little over a week since, six men were charged over a plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, a man in Wichita, Kansas, has been arrested over allegations he threatened to kidnap and kill the city’s mayor, Brandon Whipple. In both cases, the motive appears to have been discontent over the handling of the pandemic.
According to the Wichita Eagle, 59-year-old Meredith Dowty had asked for Whipple’s address after becoming frustrated with the city’s mask mandates. “He said he was going to kidnap me and slash my throat and he needed my address because I needed to see the hangman – me and everyone who, something about tyranny,” Whipple told the Eagle.
“It sounded like the person was very upset about pretty much mask mandates and he said something about not being able to see his mother because of Covid restrictions on elderly homes.”
Whipple has received pushback in Wichita due to a mandate requiring people to wear masks in most public settings.
Kamala Harris will return to the campaign trail on Monday, according to the Biden campaign. Harris cancelled her in-person appearances on Thursday after it emerged she had flown with someone who had later tested positive for Covid-19. Harris tested negative for the virus on Friday, and she will appear at an event in Florida on Monday.
Kamala Harris will return to the campaign trail on Monday. Photograph: Ronda Churchill/AFP/Getty Images
Meanwhile David Perdue, a Republican senator from Georgia, has been criticized for mocking Harris’s name. During an event in Macon, Georgia, Perdue mentioned: “Kah-mah-la or Kah-ma-la or Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever.”
Georgia Democrats (@GeorgiaDemocrat)
This is intentionally disrespectful and a bigoted racist tactic straight from the Trump playbook. Every Georgia Republican has to answer for this. https://t.co/guUmn1htTi
Harris’s late mother was Indian and her father is black, and Democrats accused Perdue of using racially-charged language.
“Senator David Perdue has served in the Senate alongside Vice Presidential nominee and Senator Kamala Harris since 2017. He knows her name and he knows how to say it. His disgusting performance today is nothing more than a desperate dog whistle from a losing politician ... Perdue has shown he lacks the dignity and respect that Georgians deserve from their US senator, and he must immediately apologize,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Helen Kalla said in a statement.
Stimulus talks between House speaker Nancy Pelosi and the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, are due to take place later today on a new stimulus package. But, as Politico points out, don’t expect agreement on a subject that has been dragging on for months: Mnuchin is due to leave the country for talks in Israel and the UAE, perhaps showing how much importance he places on the talks.