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Wake Up To Politics - September 14, 2020

Good morning! It’s Monday, September 14, 2020. Election Day is 50 days away. The first presidential debate is 15 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

As you may have noticed, Wake Up To Politics has a new logo debuting this morning! I’m very excited to share this new look — I hope you like it!

State of the Race

With Labor Day — the unofficial start to the fall campaign — safely behind them and early or absentee voting now underway in three states, both presidential candidates will resume crisscrossing the country this week in the final 50-day stretch of the 2020 race.

President Donald Trump campaigned in Nevada over the weekend, including a Sunday event in Henderson that was his first indoor rally in almost three months. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, meanwhile, held no public events on Saturday or Sunday, leading to criticism by the president that he has “basically gone into retirement.”

But Biden will join Trump on the campaign trail in the coming days, stopping in Florida on Wednesday and Pennsylvania on Thursday. After his visit to Nevada on Sunday, Trump will be in Arizona today and Wisconsin later this week. Then, on Friday, both men are scheduled to travel to Minnesota.

New polls released in recent days have shown Trump tied with or trailing Biden in each of those states, projected to be some of the most crucial in the battle for the White House.

New York Times/Siena

  • Minnesota: Biden 50%, Trump 41%
  • Nevada: Biden 46%, Trump 42%
  • New Hamsphire: Biden 45%, Trump 42%
  • Wisconsin: Biden 48%, Trump 43%CBS News/YouGov
  • Arizona: Biden 47%, Trump 44%
  • Minnesota: Biden 50%, Trump 41%NBC News/Marist
  • Florida: Biden 48%, Trump 48%
  • Pennsylvania: Biden 53%, Trump 44%

Ahead of the campaigns converging there later this week, the two polls of Minnesota represent one of Trump’s top targets slipping away: Biden led in the state by an identical nine-point margin in the New York Times and CBS News surveys. Trump lost Minnesota to Hillary Clinton by just 1.5% in 2016 and it has been one of the states he has been most hoping to flip. “If any state is positioned to go from blue to red in 2020, to embrace the fullness of Trumpology and provide the president some much-needed Electoral College insurance, it is Minnesota,” the Times reported Sunday.

However, the New York Times poll found Trump’s messaging largely falling flat in Minnesota and its upper Midwest neighbor, Wisconsin. In the two key states, voters said they trusted Biden over Trump to handle race relations (56% to 37%), unifying America (53% to 38%), coronavirus (52% to 41%), and handling protests (51% to 42%). Meanwhile, Trump led on the economy (45% to 50%), while the two were statistically tied on law and order (48% to 47%), an issue that has roiled both states after protests responding to the police shootings of Jacob Blake in Kenosha and George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Trump’s polling deficit — he is “running short of time and targets,” per CNN — is compounded by his campaign’s newfound cash crunch. The president’s team is “scaling back its television advertising spending and in some cases abandoning it altogether for now in key states,” Bloomberg News reported this morning. Biden has outspent Trump in nearly every battleground state and has been fueled by a record-breaking fundraising month in August. (Trump also trailed Clinton in fundraising throughout much of 2016, which did not prevent him from rising to victory with a much slimmer operation.)

After the NBC/Marist poll showing a tied race in Florida, Biden is set to be boosted in the state by a large investment from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to the Washington Post, Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help Biden in Florida, “a massive late-stage infusion of cash.”

Florida, the largest battleground state at 29 electoral votes, is widely seen as pivotal to Trump’s re-election chances; without the Sunshine State, it is unlikely he will be able to win a second term.

Campaign Reads

“Trump and Biden Joust in Florida, Looking for Votes in the Margins” New York Times

“Bernie Sanders expresses concerns about Biden campaign” Washington Post

“Republicans Are Knocking On Doors. Democrats Aren’t. Biden’s Campaign Says That’s OK.” NPR

Mormons rejected Trump as blasphemous. Now he likely can’t win without them. Politico

The Rundown

Coronavirus: “The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.”

“In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation.” (Politico)

U.S.-China relations: “Terry Branstad is stepping down as U.S. ambassador to China, ending a more than three-year tenure at the forefront of Washington’s increasingly strained relationship with Beijing.”

...“Mr. Branstad, a Republican whose six terms as governor of Iowa over two stints made him the longest-serving governor in U.S. history, is due to leave Beijing in early October and return to Iowa, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. He spoke to President Trump by phone last week to confirm his decision to retire, the statement said.” (Wall Street Journal)

  • “Oracle Chosen as TikTok’s Tech Partner, as Microsoft’s Bid Is Rejected” (New York Times)

Durham probe: “Federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy, a top aide to U.S. Attorney John H. Durham in his Russia investigation, has quietly resigned — at least partly out of concern that the investigative team is being pressed for political reasons to produce a report before its work is done, colleagues said.”

...“Durham recruited Dannehy to join his team after he was appointed by Attorney General William Barr more than a year and a half ago to examine the FBI’s legal justification for a disputed counterintelligence investigation that looked for ties between President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian efforts to meddle in the election.” (Hartford Courant)


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will travel to California and Arizona. In McClellan Park, California, he will participate in a briefing on wildfires at 11 a.m. and deliver remarks at a ceremony recognizing the California National Guard at 12:05 p.m.

In Phoenix, Arizona, he will participate in a roundtable hosted by the “Latinos for Trump Coalition” at 5 p.m. The president will then return to Washington, D.C.

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Wisconsin and Montana. In Janesville, Wisconsin, he will deliver remarks at a “Make America Great Again” rally at 12 p.m. In Belgrade, Montana, he will deliver remarks at a rally hosted by the state Republican Party at 5:20 p.m. The vice president will then return to Washington, D.C.

The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. The chamber will vote at 5:30 p.m. to advance the nomination of Mark Scarsi to be a U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California.

The House will convene at 2 p.m. and vote on 24 pieces of legislation, 16 of which would rename post offices. The others are:

  1. H.R. 6133, the STEP Improvement Act of 2020
  2. H.R. 6079, the Microloan Improvement Act of 2020
  3. H.R. 6021, the Northern Marianas Islands Small Business Development Act
  4. H.R. 6078, the Microloan Transparency and Accountability Act of 2020, as amended
  5. H.R. 4894, the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2020, as amended
  6. S. 2193, the CHARGE Act
  7. H.R. 1668, the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020, as amended
  8. H.R. 2575, the AI in Government Act of 2020, as amended

The Supreme Court is on summer recess.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is in his home state of Delaware. In the morning, he will vote in the state’s primary elections. In the afternoon, he will deliver remarks in Wilmington on “the ongoing wildfires and urgent need to address the climate crisis.” He will then attend finance events.

In the evening, Biden will deliver remarks at “Voting is Power Unleashed,” a virtual event hosted by the Poor People’s Campaign.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will participate in a virtual roundtable hosted by UNITE HERE, a labor union. She will then attend virtual fundraisers, including one at which she will be joined by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler, who have impersonated them on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

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