Weekly Presidential News Briefing: September 11, 2020

Candidates by the Numbers

The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings on September 10, 2020:

  • Florida moved from Leans Democratic to Toss Up.
  • Nevada moved from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball also updated its race ratings on September 10, 2020:

  • Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District moved from Toss Up to Leans Democratic. Nebraska and Maine are the only states to appoint individual electors based on the popular vote statewide and in each congressional district.

Notable Quotes of the Day “One of the reasons Mr. Biden was able to wipe away Mr. Trump’s early cash edge was that he sharply contained costs with a minimalistic campaign during the pandemic’s worst months. Trump officials derisively dismissed it as his ‘basement’ strategy, but from that basement Mr. Biden fully embraced Zoom fund-raisers, with top donors asked to give as much as $720,000.

These virtual events typically took less than 90 minutes of the candidate’s time, could raise millions of dollars and cost almost nothing. Mr. Trump has almost entirely refused to hold such fund-raisers. Aides say he doesn’t like them.”

– Shane Goldmacher and Maggie HabermanThe New York Times

“I would say this about an October surprise. I mean, given this year, it’d be unlikely that there wouldn’t be a major turn of events between now and the election. But there will be no surprise that has to do with Trump. It’s just not possible. Everything that anybody could possibly think about him, good or bad, they already think. Like, when you think about a bell curve, he’s already at the tails. So, any surprise that happens will be a surprise around Biden-Harris.”

– Beth Hansen, former campaign manager for John Kasich

Week in Review

Biden, Trump respond to Woodward interview on coronavirus

In a recorded interview with journalist Bob Woodward from February 2020 released on Wednesday, Donald Trump discussed the dangers of the coronavirus. He said it was deadlier than the flu and a delicate issue because it was airborne. In another interview about the coronavirus from March 2020, Trump said, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Joe Biden addressed Trump’s comments during an event in Michigan, saying, “He had the information. He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.”

Trump defended his comments in a Fox News interview on Wednesday. He said, “I’m the leader of the country, I can’t be jumping up and down and scaring people. I don’t want to scare people. I want people not to panic, and that’s exactly what I did.”

Trump, RNC raise $210 million in August, trail Biden and DNC’s fundraising total

Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $210 million in August, setting a record for the campaign. They trailed Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee’s fundraising total for the month by $154 million.

Biden and the DNC raised $365 million in August, bypassing Barack Obama’s record $193 million monthly total from September 2008.

Maine ballots will use ranked-choice voting for presidential election

On Tuesday, the Maine Supreme Court stayed a lower court’s decision regarding a veto referendum on ranked choice voting in the state, effectively putting its inclusion on the ballot on hold. As a result, Maine Secretary of State Matthw Dunlap said he would proceed with printing ballots that included ranked choice voting for the presidential race.

Trump releases list of potential Supreme Court nominees

Donald Trump released a list of 20 potential Supreme Court nominees on Wednesday. The list includes Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Josh Hawley (Mo.), and five current or former members of his administration.

Satellite groups release ads focused on military families, protests

The Democratic-aligned group American Bridge launched a $4 million television and radio ad campaign focused on military families and rural voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. The ad highlights negative comments Donald Trump allegedly made about dead U.S. soldiers.

The pro-Trump America First Action announced a $22 million ad buy in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio that will run until Election Day. The series of ads will focus on protests in Wisconsin and other states, Biden’s mental acuity, and calls to defund the police.

Where the candidates were this week

Joe Biden spoke at a virtual town hall inside the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and Congress Industrial Organizations headquarters in Harrisburg on Monday.

He discussed American manufacturing in Warren, Michigan, on Wednesday. Biden last visited the state in March.

On Friday, Biden commemorated September 11 at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He also attended a ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.

Donald Trump campaigned in Jupiter, Florida, on Tuesday, where he discussed conservation and environmental protection in the Everglades. He also held a rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on the same day.

On Thursday, Trump spoke at the MBS International Airport in Saginaw County, Michigan. He also traveled to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to commemorate September 11 at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Friday.

Trump is expected to campaign in Nevada over the weekend. He originally planned to hold rallies at airport hangars in Reno and Las Vegas, but the events were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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What we’re reading

Flashback: September 8-11, 2016

  • September 8, 2016: Donald Trump unveiled his education proposal, including designating $20 billion for federal school choice grants.
  • September 9, 2016: Mike Pence released a decade of his tax filings. In 2015, Pence and his wife had a reported adjusted gross income of $113,026.
  • September 10, 2016: TIME reported that Hillary Clinton said at a fundraiser, “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”
  • September 11, 2016: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both visited Ground Zero in New York City to commemorate September 11.