By LIBBY CATHEY and LAUREN KING, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — With eight days until Election Day, and President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden racing toward Nov. 3, early voters are turning out in record numbers.
The president has an aggressive campaign schedule as polls show him trailing nationally and in battleground states key to his reelection hopes, including Pennsylvania where he held three events Monday.
Biden, meanwhile, spoke briefly at a voter activation center in Pennsylvania Monday.
Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the coronavirus task force, held a Minnesota rally despite being exposed to COVID-19.
Here is how the day developed Monday. All times Eastern:
Oct 26, 8:51 pm
Why many Americans don’t vote and how for some this year could be different
The last time Richard Brown voted was in 2008. He had caught a couple of presidential debates on TV, and found himself liking what the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, had to say. And as a Black man, he was excited by the idea of voting for the country’s first Black president.
Then in 2012, he decided not to bother casting a second ballot for Obama. It wasn’t that he had soured on the president — he just didn’t think it was necessary.
“He’s already in office … (so) I kinda figured he didn’t need my help,” Brown said.
He was willing to take the time out of his day to cast his vote, but he didn’t think it would have an impact on the outcome.
“I know it’s kind of a stupid thought, but I feel like one missed vote isn’t going to change anything,” he said.
Twelve years later, though, he’s planning to vote again. It’s not because Brown, who is now 53 and lives in the Midwest, is newly hopeful that his vote will matter. In fact, he’s not at all confident that the candidate he’s supporting, Joe Biden, will win. But the stakes of this election feel personal. Over the past four years, some of his friends have changed the way they act and talk, saying hateful things about Obama or sharing racist memes on Facebook.
“I’m not even really keen on Biden,” Brown said. “It’s more so that Trump is bringing racist rhetoric out of a lot of people.”
Those kinds of comments are “really hurtful to me, disrespectful to me,” he said.
So he’s decided to vote again this year: “This way, if (Biden) does lose the election, I can’t say that it was my fault because I didn’t vote.”
Every election, millions of Americans go through a similar thought process and, it turns out, lots of people feel like Brown: They think voting doesn’t matter or isn’t worth their time.
In any given election, between 35 and 60 percent of eligible voters don’t cast a ballot. It’s not that hard to understand why. Our system doesn’t make it particularly easy to vote, and the decision to carve out a few hours to cast a ballot requires a sense of motivation that’s hard for some Americans to muster every two or four years — enthusiasm about the candidates, belief in the importance of voting itself, a sense that anything can change as the result of a single vote.
“I guess I just don’t think that one person’s vote can swing an election,” said Jon Anderson, who won’t be voting for president this year because of moral objections to both candidates.
Oct 26, 7:50 pm
Supreme Court refuses to green light mail ballot deadline extension in Wisconsin
An effort to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin remains on hold Monday night after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to green light a six-day extension ordered by a lower court judge because of the pandemic.
It’s a win for Republicans who have pushed back against efforts to expand voting access nationwide during the outbreak, with special focus on contesting voting changes in battleground states.
The move by the court, in a 5-3 vote, keeps in place a federal appellate court injunction against a District Court order that first authorized the extension in Wisconsin.
By law in that state, absentee ballots must be delivered to election clerks by 8 p.m. on Election Day if they are to be counted.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the conservative justices in keeping the status quo in Wisconsin — explaining his position in contrast to last week’s move when he sided with the liberals effectively keeping Pennsylvania’s mail ballot deadline extension in place.
“In this case, as in several this Court has recently addressed, a District Court intervened in the thick of election season to enjoin enforcement of a State’s laws. Because I believe this intervention was improper, I agree with the decision of the Seventh Circuit to stay the injunction pending appeal. I write separately to note that this case presents different issues than the applications this Court recently denied in Scarnati v. Boockvar, ante, at __, and Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar, ante, at _. While the Pennsylvania applications implicated the authority of state courts to apply their own constitutions to election regulations, this case involves federal intrusion on state lawmaking processes. Different bodies of law and different precedents govern these two situations and require, in these particular circumstances, that we allow the modification of election rules in Pennsylvania but not Wisconsin.”
-ABC News Senior Washington reporter Devin Dwyer
Oct 26, 6:21 pm
Trump responds to Biden, crowd chants of ‘We love you’
At his final rally in Pennsylvania for the day, Trump, appearing to have seen Biden’s earlier remarks outside a voter activation office in the state, countered Biden’s criticism of his rallies as “superspreader events.”
“He said that he doesn’t do these kinds of rallies because of COVID, you know, because of — no, he doesn’t do them because nobody shows up,” Trump said to roaring applause.
When the crowd later chanted, “We love you,” Trump jokingly said he was so touched he could cry.
“That is the chant they say they have never, ever heard in politics. I will not repeat the chant because I do not want to cry. I will start crying. Now they will say President Trump broke down in tears today,” he said, smiling, after mockingly wiping his eyes.
Trump shifted between reading a speech off a teleprompter and improvised remarks, and then ended with his now trademark mechanical dance moves to “Y.M.C.A” — the 1970s hit song he uses to close his rallies.
Oct 26, 5:05 pm
Pence holds rally in Minnesota despite COVID-19 exposure
Wearing a mask as he took the stage on an airport tarmac in Hibbing, Minnesota, Pence returned to the campaign trail Monday despite his chief of staff and four others in his close orbit testing positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
“Thank you so much for coming out on this blustery day. And looking out at this crowd, it’s pretty obvious to me the Iron Range is Trump country,” Pence said on an afternoon where it was 25 degrees and lightly snowing.
He made no mention of the coronavirus outbreak among his inner circle. Pence’s office said he tested negative this morning for COVID-19.
In his remarks, Pence nodded to the imminent confirmation vote of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, but unlike at his rally in Florida Saturday, he did not indicate he will be in the Senate chamber this evening but on standby in case his vote is needed.
“When we’re done, I’m gonna head back to Washington D.C., just in case they need my vote. But even if they don’t, I’ll make a prediction: before the day is over, Judge Amy Coney Barrett is going to be Justice Amy Coney Barrett,” Pence said to applause.
There was a strong focus on the Iron Range during Pence’s remarks, telling families across the area that “our bridges and skyscrapers soar because of iron that comes out of the Iron Range.”
In 2016, Trump lost Minnesota by only 2 points and has been making a push to try to flip the state this year. Pence acknowledged how tight that race was and asked supporters to keep making a final push in these final days.
“I’ll always believe the greatest form of media in this country is not your TV networks, it’s not your big newspapers, it’s not even your social media. I think it’s word of mouth. I think you know we came so close in Minnesota, right? Last time around because people were talking to each other. I mean we made history in this country in 2016,” Pence said. “And you got to go do it again, you got to deliver this time again.”
Pence put his mask back on when he wrapped his remarks and ran back to his plane for Washington.
-ABC News’ Justin Gomez
Oct 26, 4:35 pm
Biden slams Trump as ‘giving up’ on COVID-19
After the Biden campaign had announced no public events for the day, he visited with supporters at a voter field office and activation center in Chester, Pennsylvania, in Delaware County, while Trump also rallied in the battleground state, and delivered impromptu remarks attacking the president’s response to the pandemic.
“What in the hell is the matter with this man?” Biden said, arguing the Trump administration is “giving up” on its response as Trump insists cases are “leveling out” when they’re actually on the rise.
“I’m not going to give up. I don’t know what we’ll inherit on January 21st, but at the rate he’s going it’s not going to be good,” Biden continued.
Asked about the outdoor event the White House is planning tonight to celebrate the anticipated Senate confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Biden said it sets a bad example to all Americans when the president holds “superspreader events.”
“I just hope he is willing to have learned a lesson and there will be significant social distancing. I don’t blame him for celebrating. There’s a lot of things we could be doing having massive crowds, but the fact is that it’s just not appropriate now,” Biden said. “It shouldn’t be a huge crowd, whether it’s outside or not.”
Defending himself against criticism from Trump that he’s in “hiding” in the final days of campaigning, Biden noted he’ll be visiting Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida and Georgia this week but also took the chance to differentiate his campaign events from Trump’s.
“We’re going to be traveling — continue to travel, but the big difference between us — and the reason why it looks like we’re not traveling, we’re not putting on superspreaders,” Biden said. “We are doing what we’re doing here. Everybody’s wearing a mask and trying as best we can to be socially distanced and that’s what we do.”
Oct 26, 4:39 pm
Trump scoffs at ‘friendly’ transition of power
At the second of three events in Pennsylvania Monday, Trump told supporters at a rally in Lititz while he wants any transition to be done “absolutely by the book” but that it’s “very hypocritical” for Democrats and other critics to expect a friendly transfer of power.
“We want it to be done absolutely by the book, and we want to go absolutely by our great Constitution. But you know what, when they start talking about this friendly wonderful transition. And then you see what they put us through. It’s really very hypocritical isn’t it?” Trump told the fired up crowd. “On November 3rd we must finish the job and drain that very deep and very nasty swamp once.”
Ticking through the battleground state Monday, Trump urged voters to turnout in stronger numbers than in 2016 as he narrowly won the state then by only .72%.
“For the last four years, you’ve seen me fight for you and now I am relying on you to deliver a historic victory for our country. Bigger even than four years ago,” Trump said.
Trump continued to brush off the effects of COVID-19 as cases and hospitalizations rise across the country, saying, “One day you get it, and, that’s OK. You get better. We have such great, I think, cures.” He again raised the diagnosis of his youngest son, Barron, 14, to downplay the effects of the disease on children. According to the latest report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 120 children have died from COVID-19 since late March.
“I mean, I got it and I’m here. We have great medicines and therapeutics,” he said. “You know who else got it? Barron. My very tall son… It’s gone. Young kids, they have a strong immune system. I’ve gained such respect for them.”
“It’s absolutely an amazing thing what we’ve done in a period of seven months because, you know, I’m the president of the United States,” Trump added.
Some Amish supporters, without masks, stood directly behind Trump at the rally, and the demographic received a nod from Trump.
“We have Pennsylvania Dutch. Don’t tell anyone. You know, they — they’re great people. They’re great people, but they’re not known for going out and voting for a lot of reasons. Don’t tell anybody, but the Pennsylvania Dutch are voting en masse,” Trump said.
In slamming trade positions taken by the Obama administration, Trump also said he wants the U.S. to be a “developing nation” as the World Trade Organization still recognizes China as a developing country.
“They are considered a developing nation and I said so we are a developing nation, too. We’re developing, they are developing, we are developing, they get big advantages,” Trump said. “We want to be a developing nation also.”
Oct 26, 2:18 pm
Harris calls Trump’s attacks ‘childish,’ expected to travel to Texas Friday
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, the first woman of color on the ticket of major party, responded to attacks and slights she’s endured from Trump, including mispronouncing her name and referring to her as a “female socialist,” during an interview with ABC’s “The View.”
“It’s so predictable coming from him. I mean it’s childish, it’s name-calling on behalf of the president of the United States, and, again, the American people deserve so much more from their president,” said Harris. “You know, look, the name-calling is not new to me — it’s not new to anybody who played on the playground as a child. But this is not the playground.”
She also took the opportunity to ease concerns around Biden’s stance on fossil fuels after Biden said at the last debate he would transition from the oil industry overtime and end fossil fuel subsidies, and the Trump campaign seized on the comments.
“Without any ambiguity, Joe is clear. We will not ban fracking. And let’s clear up further things and we will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, period, full stop,” said Harris. “Joe is also committed to understanding that we have to also acknowledge the science in a way that frankly the current president does not, on the COVID issue and on climate.”
Harris will travel to Nevada on Tuesday, and according to a source familiar with plans, she will be in Texas on Friday — the first Democratic vice presidential candidate to campaign in the state in decades — as Democrats eye the GOP stronghold. Texas currently leads the nation with the largest number of early votes.
-ABC News’ Averi Harper
Oct 26, 2:08 pm
Background on Trump’s stops in Pennsylvania
Trump’s first rally of the day was in Allentown, in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh County and the larger Lehigh Valley region in the northeastern part of the state.
Hillary Clinton won 50% of the county in 2016, with roughly 7,600 more votes than Trump. But he won nearby Northampton County by 5,400 votes, on the way to winning Pennsylvania by roughly 44,000 votes. Given that Northampton County is one of the few pivot counties that went for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 before turning to Trump, the president’s visit represents an effort to keep his supporters in the suburbs in play.
The area was represented by U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, a Republican, from 2011-2018, until he resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal. After redistricting, the area is now represented by Rep. Susan Wild, a Democrat.
His second stop brought him to Lititz in Lancaster County where he easily defeated Clinton by roughly 50,000 votes four years ago. He also won with roughly the same margin as Mitt Romney did in 2012, though more people voted in the 2016 race for both candidates than four years prior.
Pence has also visited the area twice since August.
Trump holds a third rally in Martinsburg, in Blair County, where he won roughly 75% of the vote in 2016. The county in central Pennsylvania between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh is a reliably conservative region of the state — where Trump needs to run up his numbers to help keep Pennsylvania in GOP hands in November.
-ABC News’ Ben Siegel
Oct 26, 1:40 pm
Trump, fired up, says election hinges on Pennsylvania
An energized President Trump declared Pennsylvania his must-win state at the first of three rallies there today, slamming Joe Biden for staying off the campaign trail today and urging the audience in Allentown to get out the vote.
“We win Pennsylvania, we win the whole thing,” Trump said to a crowd of closely-packed supporters, many without masks. “You have to get out there.”
He opened by railing against Biden for saying at last Thursday’s debate that he would transition from the oil industry over time and end fossil fuel subsidies, Trump telling Pennsylvanians their livelihoods are at risk as the state is the second largest producer of natural gas behind Texas.
“So will you remember that, Pennsylvania, please?” Trump said, after playing a video of spliced news clips highlighting his administration’s accomplishments and Biden’s past answers to questions on fracking and relations with China.
On the coronavirus pandemic, Trump claimed he “saved over two million lives,” likely referring to an early model which predicted deaths would only be that high if no attempts were made by the government, nor individuals, to alter their behavior to control the pandemic. The U.S. death toll, instead, is on track to surpass the 240,000 maximum prediction Trump’s task force gave in the spring for the year.
As cases are on the rise across the country — with records being set in recent days — hospitalizations and deaths are up in many areas, and experts have repeatedly warned the situation would get worse leading into the fall and winter. But Trump lamented against media coverage of the surging cases suggesting it’s a ploy to hurt his reelection chances.
“By the way, on November 4th you won’t be hearing so much about it. COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID,” he said, repeating a line he’s now highlighting.
Providing no evidence, Trump also claimed that his campaign was trying to find a venue for this event up to the last minute because Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, made it “impossible” for the president to host campaign events in the state, sending a direct warning to Wolf.
“I’ll remember it, Tom. I’m gonna remember it, Tom. ‘Hello, Mr. President, this is Governor Wolf, I need help, I need help.’ You know what? These people are bad,” Trump said, adding the false claim that Wolf will be counting ballots in the state. “We’re watching you.”
Trump continued his pitch to suburban women in Pennsylvania, a demographic he is struggling with in the polls, but insisted he’s “saving the suburbs.”
“They want two things. They want to leave their house alone. They don’t want a five-story project next to them — or could be higher,” Trump said. “They don’t want to have antifa and anarchists running through the streets, okay? So if they agree with what I just said, I have a feeling they are going to be voting for Trump.”
With a backing from white, moderate and suburban women in Pennsylvania, it is Biden who has an 8% advantage with the group in the state, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson, Terrance Smith and Justin Gomez
Oct 26, 1:26 pm
Pence not expected to preside over Barrett confirmation vote
Vice President Mike Pence is not expected to preside over Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate vote this evening unless his vote is needed, multiple sources tell ABC News.
Barrett has the GOP votes to be confirmed so it’s unlikely that Pence’s tie-breaking vote will be needed.
According to his schedule, Pence will be back in town from a Minnesota campaign stop during the time of the vote, which is expected at 7 p.m.
Shortly after White House communications director Alyssa Farrah said that Pence would be presiding over the Senate vote, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters during a gaggle that Pence showing up was “in flux.” Over the weekend, Pence “as vice president, I am president of the Senate. And I’m going to be in that chair cause I would not miss that vote for the world!”
It’s unclear if Pence plans to attend a likely White House South Lawn this evening to celebrate Barrett’s confirmation and swearing-in.
The change comes as five people in Pence’s orbit have tested positive for the coronavirus, though Pence was cleared by doctors to continue to travel as “essential personnel,” according to his office.
-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and John Santucci
Oct 26, 10:30 am
Trump to battleground Pennsylvania, Pence to Minnesota
Trump and Pence are ramping up their already aggressive campaign schedules — traveling through nearly a dozen battleground states over the next week — in a final effort to boost their standing in the polls ahead of Nov. 3, doing so as coronavirus cases surge across the country, during an election that has largely become a referendum on the Trump administration’s handling of it.
Trump departed the White House this morning for Allentown, Pennsylvania, where his campaign says he’ll deliver “victory remarks” on the American worker before two back-to-back afternoon rallies in the Keystone State — key to his pathway to keeping the White House. Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania in 2016, and polls show Biden with a big boost from suburban women there.
Still, some Trump supporters in Pennsylvania were seen waiting in the rain for hours ahead of the president’s arrival.
Pence, too, is maintaining his aggressive campaign schedule despite an outbreak of coronavirus among his aides with five reporting testing positive over the weekend including his chief of staff Marc Short. Due to the close nature of Pence’s working relationship with Short, the Centers for Disease Control guidelines require him to quarantine to reduce the risk of asymptomatic spread — despite testing negative again Monday morning, according to his office.
Pence’s press secretary Dan O’Malley said over the weekend that the vice president would keep to his commitments “in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”
Pence, head of the coronavirus task force, is scheduled to travel to Hibbing, Minnesota, Monday for an afternoon rally.
The White House has not confirmed whether the vice president will preside over the Supreme Court confirmation vote of Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Senate this evening in the wake of the outbreak, but Pence indicated at a Florida rally on Saturday that he would be in attendance.
Oct 26, 9:18 am
Biden plays on expanded map as Trump tends to base
It’s either brilliant or delusional — a sign of changing realities or political hubris. There’s no way to know which for at least another eight days.
Biden’s campaign is seeing an expanding map and looking to play all over it during the final stretch of the race.
Biden will spend Tuesday in Georgia, with Sen. Kamala Harris expected in Texas this week and former President Barack Obama being deployed again to Florida. Democrats are playing in a battleground map of 17 states — when all they needs to do is flip the right three.
Those key three are where Trump is spending his Monday and Tuesday, with a crush of rallies that both defy social-distance guidelines and remain the kind of events that only he could pull together.
Trump’s focus is falling on the trio Democrats have stressed over for four years running: Pennsylvania, where he will have three rallies Monday, then Wisconsin and Michigan Tuesday, with the president campaigning primarily in GOP strongholds inside those states.
One school of thought will always second-guess any time spent by either candidate anywhere else. But Biden is flush with both cash and eager surrogates, and is watching early turnout numbers blow past expectations while new COVID-19 spikes keep the race focused on where he wants it.
Trump still has to worry about a crumbling coalition of states the GOP considered safe. He never wanted to have to campaign in Ohio or Florida at this stage of the race, to say nothing of Nebraska — where he will squeeze in a trip Tuesday — or South Carolina, where Vice President Mike Pence will be that same day.
Polling and pandemic realities confirm something smart political minds have long said: 2020 is not 2016. But the thought that pursuing close to 400 electoral votes could make the path to 270 even a little harder will haunt some Democrats until the end of this long race
-ABC News’ Political Director Rick Klein
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