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Wake Up To Politics - October 26, 2020

It’s Monday, October 26, 2020. Election Day is 8 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

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Campaign 2020

Coronavirus is roaring back to the forefront of the 2020 race. After setting a single-day record of new coronavirus cases on Friday, the United States is now facing a third wave of COVID-19 infections that is even worse than the first two. And the White House has been no exception to the fall surge: five aides to Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive, including his chief of staff, body man, and senior political adviser.

The new crop of coronavirus infections — around the country and inside the government — ensure that COVID-19, and President Trump’s handling of the pandemic, will remain at the center of the presidential race in its closing days.  

But that hasn’t stopped the White House from continuing to downplay the virus. President Trump complained on Twitter this morning that the media is only talking about “COVID, COVID, COVID.” Even as new cases skyrocketed, he declared Friday that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” of the pandemic, just as he has 36 times in the past 54 days. Trump added in a tweet that “cases are up because testing is way up,” although hospitalizations and deaths are rising as well.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to admit defeat in a CNN interview on Monday. “We are not going to control the pandemic,” he said. Vice President Pence, meanwhile, is continuing to campaign today despite being deemed a “close contact” of aides who have tested positive. Meadows said that Pence could continue working — in defiance of CDC guidelines — because he is “essential personnel.”

Pay attention to where the candidates are traveling. As Election Day ticks closer, a lot can be gleaned from where the two campaigns are spending their most precious of resources: time. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is slated to visit Georgia on Tuesday, while his running mate Kamala Harris will be headed to Texas on Friday — their first stops in a pair of states that have not voted for a Democratic presidential ticket since 1992 and 1976, respectively. The two visits come after a polls showing razor-thin races in both states.

Neither Biden nor Harris have any trips on their schedule today, despite Election Day looming just eight days away. President Trump, meanwhile, will be making three stops today in Pennsylvania, a state that is crucial for his path to 270 electoral votes. He is likely to continue slamming Biden for his comment at last week’s debate that he “would transition away from the oil industry”; Pennsylvania is home to a large natural gas industry.


Amy Coney Barrett is slated to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the ninth Supreme Court justice today. Barrett’s nomination was advanced Sunday in a 51-48 vote, with all present Democrats and two Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — opposed. Murkowksi said that she will vote in favor of Barrett’s confirmation today, leaving Collins (who is currently in the fight of her political life) as the lone GOP “nay” vote.

Barrett could be sworn in as early as tonight, in an outdoor ceremony reminiscent of the “superspreader event” at which her nomination was unveiled. Her presence will be felt quickly, creating a six-justice conservative majority just before the court is set to hear arguments on key cases involving LGBT rights and Obamacare. Barrett and her new colleagues could also be called to rule on more election-related lawsuits in the coming weeks.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged in a floor speech Sunday that Barrett’s confirmation would be one of his and President Trump’s most lasting legacies. “We’ve made an important contribution to the future of this country,” he said. “A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone, sooner or later, by the next election. They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”


Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize ties on Friday, in a deal brokered by the Trump administration. The agreement made Sudan the third Arab state to recognize Israel in recent weeks, joining Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. President Trump has also suggested that Saudi Arabia could be next to formalize relations with the Jewish state.

“HUGE win today for the United States and for peace in the world,” Trump tweeted of the Sudan deal. The peace accord came after the U.S. agreed to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism (in exchange for a $335 million settlement to the victims of two American embassy bombings perpetrated by Sudan). These developments will further bring Sudan out of international isolation, as the terrorism designation prevented the country from receiving aid from several global organizations.

Editor’s Note

Correction: In Friday’s newsletter, I misstated the number of early votes that have been cast so far in the 2020 election. The sentence should have read: “Nearly 50 million Americans have already voted, obliterating the early vote record set in 2016.” (The number of early votes that have been recorded is now above 59 million.) My apologies for the error and thanks to the readers who flagged it.

Today on the Trail

All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will campaign in Pennsylvania. He will deliver “victory remarks to American workers” in Allentown at 11 a.m. and hold rallies in Lititz at 1:30 p.m. and Martinsburg at 4:30 p.m.

  • Vice President Mike Pence will hold a campaign rally in Hibbing, Minnesota, at 2:45 p.m.
  • Second Lady Karen Pence will hold a campaign event in New Hill, North Carolina, at 12:30 p.m.
  • Donald Trump Jr. will hold campaign events in Youngstown and Walbridge, Ohio, at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively, and an event in Washington, Michigan, at 6 p.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has no events scheduled.

  • Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris has no events scheduled.
  • Dr. Jill Biden will campaign in Georgia. She will hold a “Women for Biden early vote event” in Macon at 3:30 p.m. and an “early vote drive-in rally” in Savannah at 5:30 p.m.
  • Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff will hold “early vote mobilization events” in Winston-Salem and Boone, North Carolina, at 12 p.m. and 3:10 p.m., respectively.

Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgenson has no events scheduled.

  • Libertarian vice presidential nominee Spike Cohen will hold a campaign rally in Piscataway, New Jersey, at 4:30 p.m.

Green Party presidential nominee Howie Hawkins will hold a “rally for a Green New Deal” in Springfield, Illinois, at 1 p.m.

  • Green Party vice presidential nominee Angela Walker has no events scheduled.

Today in Washington

All times Eastern.

The Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to be a Supreme Court justice at around 7:25 p.m.

The House is not in session.

The Supreme Court is not in session.

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