2020 Daily Trail Markers: Trump and Biden both battle it out in Minnesota

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Both President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are fighting Friday for votes in Minnesota, where polls show Biden with a solid lead, reports CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe. The first voters began casting ballots in person in Minnesota on Friday, along with three other states, including Virginia, which saw long, packed lines at a Northern Virginia polling place.

The president trails the former vice president nationally and in most swing states, dragged down by his handling of the coronavirus and the state of the economy.

After touring a carpenters training facility outside Duluth, Biden said Trump "doesn't have a clue" on how to be president, reports CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson. Biden added that the president has even "given up on pretending" to do his job battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden also blasted the president as out of touch, saying " I spent a lot of time with people like Trump looking down on me. People that work with their hands."

In Minnesota to show that he and his party are not taking the industrial Midwest for granted, Biden portrayed himself as one-in-the-same as hardworking Minnesotans in the northern Iron Range area, promising to laborers he will work to level the playing field. "Look, I'm not looking to punish anybody, but damnit, it's about time the super wealthy, corporate America, start paying their fair share," Biden said while criticizing the Trump administration tax cuts. Yielding the federal government's purchasing power, Biden said "We should spend that money to buy American products, made by American workers and [in] American supply chains to generate American growth and opportunity."

Meanwhile, before heading to Minnesota for a Great American Comeback Event this evening, the president made a play for critical Puerto Rican voters in Florida, arguing Biden has failed them and announcing new federal funding for the island worth $13 billion. But Mr. Trump for years claimed Puerto Rico was corrupt and got too much federal relief, even after being devastated by Hurricane Maria three years ago.

The president also continued his campaign to mislead and raise doubts about mail-in ballots, saying, "We have a lot of decisions coming down on this scam of unsolicited ballots where they're sending out tens of millions of ballots...people are getting inundated, they'll be showered with ballots." That's not true - just five states hold universal mail-in elections. Post-COVID, another four states and DC are sending out absentee ballots to registered voters.


SCOOP: A television advertisement released by pro-Trump super PAC America First uses a stock photo of a Hungarian industrial building to accuse Joe Biden of being "too weak to save American jobs," reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. At the five-second mark, the video ad flashes a photograph of a foreign stock image available on shutterstock with the title, "industrial interior of a vehicle repair station." Hungarian-based photographer Oliver Sved confirmed to CBS News in a message that the seemingly abandoned factory featured in America First's advertisement is actually an automobile repair station in Budapest, Hungary. Connected to the abandoned Istvántelek Train Yard, the facility remains under joint control of the Hungarian government and private companies. Partly operational to this day, the hall was formerly named the "Jeno Landler vehicle repair station," after communist leader Jenő Landler. Sved told CBS News he was unaware his photography could be featured in American political commercials, but was not particularly surprised, as he typically "get[s] a lot of downloads in the U.S." When asked by CBS News, America First PAC president Brian O. Walsh said, "We wanted to use a picture of Joe Biden, but he was in his basement reading from a teleprompter to a CBS News pre-determined question." The mishap follows another Republican ad rollout featuring foreign images from Europe to decry American job loss. A Trump campaign advertisement touting the "great American comeback" released earlier this month include a stock image of a warehouse in Ukraine, as first reported by ABC News. Last week, a digital spot released by the "Make America Great Again Committee" - a fundraising arm of the Trump campaign - called on supporters to "support our troops" on September 11, employing a stock photo of Russian-made fighter jets and Russian models dressed as soldiers, according to Politico.

Vice President Mike Pence capped off the Trump campaign's blitz of Arizona this week, holding a "Veterans for Trump" event in the Phoenix area, reports CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. After visits from President Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Second Lady Karen Pence earlier in the week, the vice president spoke to veterans about the Administration's support for the military and overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Pence said when Joe Biden was vice president, the VA was ripe with scandal, adding that today 90% of the veterans approve of VA. He told the crowd that the Trump Administration believes the benefits are earned compensation for serving in the military and not handouts from the government. After recent reports that the President referred to fallen soldiers as "suckers" and "losers," Pence recalled being at Trump's side in private moments where the President has consoled families of fallen military members. "President Donald Trump reveres all those who serve in the uniform of the United States like no other president in my lifetime," Pence said. On Prisoner of War/Missing in Action recognition day, Pence told the crowd about his visit to Hickam Field in Honolulu when the remains of 55 Americans who died during the Korean War were returned from North Korea. Pence said, "because of President Donald Trump's strong stand with North Korea our boys came home." Pence said his dad, a veteran in the Korean War, always said the real heroes were the ones that didn't get to come home. "I will make you a promise, on behalf of your President and this Vice President, they will never be forgotten. We will never stop looking. And we will never stop searching until all of America's fallen heroes are account for and home," Pence said. Mr. Trump said in 2015 that Senator John McCain was only a war hero because he was captured, and Mr. Trump said he likes people who weren't captured. Mr. Trump has denied the reports that he called fallen soldiers "suckers and losers."


Joe Biden received his first classified intelligence briefing this week, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson and Intelligence and National Security reporter Olivia Gazis confirmed Friday. This is the regular intelligence briefing presidential candidates receive upon accepting their party's nomination. Biden has also been briefed this summer on election security issues by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.


Concern about the coronavirus has spawned a rapid expansion in mail-in voting this year -- about a third of voters across the country say they want to vote by mail or absentee this year, according to CBS News polling. That would be a larger proportion of Americans voting this way than in any past presidential election. Several states already have mail-in voting in place, and this year many others are making it easier for Americans to vote without going to the polls, despite Mr. Trump's vehement opposition to mail-in balloting. Each state has its own laws governing how and where voters can cast ballots; the CBS News political unit looked at mail-in voting across the U.S. in 2020, showing which states have expanded absentee voting because of the coronavirus; which ones have mailed ballots, rather than applications, to voters; which states don't require an excuse to vote absentee this year -- and which ones do.

You can find the state-by-state guide here.


A Michigan claims court judge on Friday extended the deadline for ballots to be received in the general election, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens said ballots that arrive up to 14 days after Election Day and are postmarked by November 2 are eligible to be counted. Michigan normally requires absentee ballots to be returned by the time polls close on Election Day. In August, about 6,400 ballots were rejected in the state's primary because they arrived after the deadline. Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office said they do not intend to appeal the decision and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said voters should still plan on voting early. "The court's decision recognizes many of the unique challenges that the pandemic has created for all citizens and will reduce the potential for voter disenfranchisement due to mail delays. However, we still want voters to make a plan to vote now, and not wait until the last minute if they want to vote by mail," Benson said in a statement. Stephens also ruled that third parties can turn in absentee ballots from 5:01 p.m. on October 30 until polls close on Election Day. Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox blasted the decision not to appeal, saying Nessel and Benson are "standing idle hoping that their political party will benefit from legal chaos. This dereliction of their constitutional duties is unacceptable."


A court in Nevada has rejected an attempt by the Election Integrity Project of Nevada to roll back the state's changes to its election amid the pandemic, the latest setback for opponents of Nevada's Assembly Bill 4. Under an emergency declared through the measure, counties in the battleground state will automatically mail ballots to all active registered voters,reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. "Let me emphasize, there is great potential at this point to disenfranchise voters if an order issues enjoining the mailing of ballots," Gregory Zunino, an attorney for Nevada's secretary of state, said Thursday at a court hearing. "There is very little potential that people are going to be harmed, in the legal sense of the word, by voter fraud in this election." Litigation continues in federal court with the Trump campaign's suit over the law, where two Indian tribes have recently moved to intervene as defendants. District Court Judge Rob Bare also acknowledged the likelihood the state case would be appealed to Nevada's higher courts.


There'll be no crowing this year at Fryeburg Fair's annual Handsome Rooster contest - a poultry staple of Maine's largest festival - with participants submitting snapshots online as part of a week-long "virtual fair" on Facebook and Instagram. The Pig Scramble Gamble, Gorgeous Goat competition, and Moo-La-Palooza are also going virtual this October amid the coronavirus pandemic. March and April saw thousands of "we-regret-to-inform-you" messages on social media about summertime festivals, weddings and camps dotting Maine's coast and countryside. The state was recently reminded of the devastation that can be wrought by the virus. One wedding in rural Maine became a coronavirus "superspreader" event that left seven people dead and 177 infected. Now, thousands of seasonal workers and artisans are entering their coldest, slowest season without their annual financial safety net, robbed by COVID-19 of a summer's worth of tourism-driven business. "That's how we live," Sue Johnson sighs. "We get by in the winter and dig ourselves out when the summertime comes. But that hasn't happened this year." Johnson and her husband, Richard - both retired high school art teachers - relied on their once bustling ceramics business, Camden Pottery, to get by. The festival circuit used to cover their property tax costs. "We took out a bank loan just in hopes that everything is going to come around," Johnson continues. Tax revenues from the leisure and hospitality industry dropped sharply in early summer, according to a report released last month by the Maine Revenue Forecasting Committee. During Maine's third quarter - the height of the summer tourism season - lodging sales tax receipts are projected to be down by 50% compared to 2019. Read more here.



While vulnerable House Democrats voiced their displeasure this week over the lack of a COVID-19 relief package, Congress is heading into the weekend still poles apart on an agreement, reports CBS News broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. At a press conference on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats have reached their lowest offer of $2.2 trillion for the bill, but was not optimistic about negotiations with Republicans, who originally proposed a $1.1 trillion package, but cut it down to $650 billion. "We have come down, I know some of you have said, 'Why won't you compromise?' We have compromised. We came down a trillion dollars, we asked them to come up a trillion dollars, instead they went down, not recognizing the need," she said. She added that Democrats passed the HEROES Act plan in May, but it has not been taken up since.

Earlier this week, Democrats running in districts Mr. Trump won in 2016 were publicly upset with how negotiations were going. With the lack of a deal, the House Republican campaign arm has highlighted some of these members going back to their districts. On Friday, Pelosi said "we don't negotiate with ourselves" and that it's up to Republicans. "We negotiate with the other side on this and they have to see that the science is clear, we need the testing. They know that they should know that, why wouldn't they know that? State and local government is their big hang up. They have contempt for science and disdain for state and local government," she said.

While at the Capitol this week, Congressman Collin Peterson of Minnesota was asked why he has defended Congressman Ilhan Omar, a fellow member of the state delegation, over past comments she made about 9/11. Peterson then said twice, "She doesn't even belong in our party." Peterson has been in Congress since 1990 but holds a Western Minnesota seat that Mr. Trump won by more than 30 points. He's facing a very serious challenge by Republican Michelle Fischbach, the former Lieutenant Governor of the state. Her campaign aired an ad on 9/11 that looked to tie Peterson directly to Omar. Neither Omar's nor Peterson's office returned a request for comment, though Omar apologized for the comments last year.

Meanwhile, in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray dated Thursday, two House Democrats -- Congressman Ted Lieu of California and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York -- are renewing their demand that authorities examine "incriminating facts" alleging Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson bribed Mr. Trump over coronavirus relief talks,reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. In their first demand, the Democrats had cited a tense call reported by Politico between Adelson and the president over his financial backing for President Trump's re-election. Their new letter cites a tweet from the president now reversing "long-standing White House opposition" to the bill coming as CNBC reported the Nevada casino magnate will now embark on "a spending blitz" supporting the president.


The Cook Political Report has moved three races that Mr. Trump won in 2016 in the Democrats' direction, reports Navarro. Maine's 2nd is the only race with a Democrat incumbent that they shifted, changing their rating from "Toss Up" to "Lean Democratic." Democrat Jared Golden is the incumbent there, and is facing Republican Dale Crafts (who recently jumped out of a plane for a fundraiser) this November. The report also weighed in on two open seats, moving Colorado's 3rd from "Likely Republican" to "Lean Republican" and Virginia's 5th to a complete "Toss Up."

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