By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — With eight days to go until Election Day, and President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden racing toward Nov. 3, voters are turning out in record numbers to cast their ballots early.
More than 59 million Americans have already voted in the 2020 election, reflecting an extraordinary level of participation and interest despite unprecedented barriers brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the final weeks of campaigning, the president has continued to press as polls show him trailing nationally and in several battleground states key to his reelection hopes.
After a weekend traversing the country to campaign, the president delivers remarks Monday on American workers in Pennsylvania and holds two rallies there. Biden, meanwhile, has no public events on his schedule. He will spend Tuesday in Georgia, with Sen. Kamala Harris expected in Texas this week and former President Barack Obama being deployed again to Florida.
Vice President Mike Pence, head of the coronavirus task force, is still on the campaign trail for a Minnesota rally Monday despite being exposed to COVID-19 over the weekend. The White House insists he’s an essential worker while some health officials warn he should be in quarantine as a precaution.
Polls indicate a huge pre-Election-Day edge for Biden and a sizable Trump advantage among those who plan to vote on Nov. 3. Trump has sowed doubt in the mail-in ballot process — and imminent election results — for months.
All 50 states plus Washington, D.C., have some form of early voting underway. Check out FiveThirtyEight’s guide to voting during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
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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