Weekly Presidential News Briefing: August 28th, 2020

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Candidates by the Numbers

Notable Quotes of the Day

“Biden is not the first politician, upon entering the general election phase of the campaign, to pivot towards the center and try to build a broad coalition. And Trump is not the first politician to wield social issues designed to drive wedges through the electorate and complicate attempts by opponents to build a broad coalition.

What’s unusual is seeing these two strategies deployed with such force at the same time. Trump has done so little over the course of his 3½ years as president to broaden his appeal that he has little choice but to believe his base can once again thread the Electoral College needle. Biden defied conventional wisdom by talking as much as he did about bipartisanship while winning a partisan primary, so he has every reason to lean in even harder now. The result is a general election where both candidates are fighting over Republican and right-leaning independent voters.

– Bill ScherRealClearPolitics

“Political conventions are usually as much about a party’s next nominee as they are about its current flag-bearer. The Republican convention on Monday night featured a glimpse of the coming fight to define the post-Trump world: Will it look and sound more like Donald Trump Jr. or Nikki Haley? …

With these speeches from Haley and Don Jr. Monday we are starting to see the GOP divide into two halves: one that tries to straddle the pre- and post-Trump GOP, and another that fully embraces undiluted Trumpism. The quality of the messenger matters a great deal. Maybe it’s only Donald Trump himself who can pull off this act again. But over the last five years the straddlers in the GOP have not fared well against those who wholeheartedly embrace what Trump has wrought.”

– Ryan LizzaPolitico

Week in Review

Republican National Convention concludes with Trump acceptance speech

The Republican National Convention (RNC) concluded on Thursday after four days of virtual speeches and limited in-person events in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Each night of the convention had a different theme: Land of Heroes, Land of Promise, Land of Opportunity, and Land of Greatness. Featured speakers included former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Ivanka Trump.

Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican presidential nomination from the White House grounds on Thursday. He highlighted his first-term accomplishments and discussed the economy, coronavirus pandemic, protests, and public safety. Trump also attacked Biden, calling him “a Trojan horse for socialism.”

The RNC also voted on August 22 to extend the party’s 2016 platform to 2024 because “it did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without the breadth of perspectives within the ever-growing Republican movement.” The committee’s resolution also said that the Republican Party would continue to support Trump’s America First agenda.

Biden and allies counter Republican convention with ads

The Joe Biden campaign launched several ads this week in national and battleground state markets, including a two-minute ad during the final night of the Republican National Convention. The ad, which discusses Biden’s vision for the country and does not mention Donald Trump, will continue to run in battleground states over the weekend.

The campaign also released an ad in Ohio and North Carolina focused on Trump’s call to boycott Goodyear tires because one of the company’s factories banned MAGA hats. Three Spanish-language and bilingual ads about the coronavirus pandemic and healthcare are also airing in Arizona and Florida.

The Lincoln Project launched a $4 million ad campaign in Arizona, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The campaign focuses on the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic. The Democratic-aligned group, American Bridge, released a digital ad featuring Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, saying Trump could not be trusted.

Ranked-choice voting will not be used in Maine for presidential election

On Monday, a Maine Superior Court judge ruled that a veto referendum on ranked-choice voting (RCV) for presidential primaries and general elections would appear on the November ballot. Maine was set to use RCV for the presidential election in November. Since the veto referendum has qualified for the ballot, however, the law is now suspended until voters decide to either uphold or repeal it. Therefore, RCV will not be used to elect the president in Maine this year.

West files a lawsuit for ballot access in Ohio

Kanye West filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) seeking to be placed on Ohio’s ballot after LaRose’s office disqualified his petition, saying there were mismatched signatures in his paperwork.

Republican staffers and officials endorse Biden

Twenty-seven Republican former members of Congress, including former Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Gordon Humphrey (N.H.), and John Warner (Va.), announced their support for Joe Biden on Monday.

Thirty-four former 2012 Romney presidential campaign staffers, calling themselves Romney Alumni for Biden, also signed an open letter backing Biden’s campaign. Another group, 43 Alumni for Biden shared a list of nearly 300 former Bush administration and campaign officials who have endorsed Biden.

More than 100 former John McCain congressional and campaign staffers also endorsed Biden on Thursday.

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Flashback: August 24th – 28th, 2016

  • August 24, 2016: Purple PAC, a group supporting Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, launched a $1 million national ad buy.
  • August 25, 2016: Jill Stein discussed NATO, Russia, Syria, and climate change in an interview with the editorial board of The Washington Post.
  • August 26, 2016: The Trump campaign hired Bill Stepien as national field director.
  • August 27, 2016: The Clinton campaign launched an ad focused on Donald Trump’s statements about and to Black voters.
  • August 28, 2016: Jake Tapper interviewed Mike Pence about immigration on CNN’s State of the Union.