Ten pivotal moments of the U.S. election year

[U.S. President Donald Trump saying:] "This is the craziest race." The 2020 U.S. presidential election was always expected to be a dramatic and eventful ride. But nobody predicted a global pandemic would upend every facet of the campaign. [Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden saying:] "Tackling this pandemic is a national emergency akin to fighting a war." Here are 10 pivotal moments from the election year. [U.S. President Donald Trump saying:] "But this is what the end result is.” Back in February, Donald Trump’s re-election prospects looked relatively strong. He was cleared on two charges from his Senate impeachment trial and the economy was roaring. After years of strife, the moment offered him a chance for a reset. [Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden saying:] "We're in this for the long haul." Joe Biden’s presidential bid, on the other hand, faltered after disappointing finishes in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. But things changed as soon as African Americans began voting in large numbers. Biden blew the field away in South Carolina, setting the stage for a stunning run. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases were beginning to circulate. [U.S. President Donald Trump saying:] "Typically that will go away in April. We're in great shape though.” After weeks of downplaying the threat, Trump delivered a rare national address in March. [U.S. President Donald Trump saying:] “Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic.” Two days later, a national emergency was declared. The virus would become the dominant election issue and keep candidates off the campaign trail for months. In the meantime, Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic race which allowed Biden to turn his focus squarely to the general election with nearly seven months to go. [Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden saying:] "It is with great honor and humility that I accept this nomination for President of the United States of America." Opinion polls in April showed an uptick in public approval of Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Then came this: [U.S. President Donald Trump saying:] "I see the disinfectant (…) is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning.” Public health experts were quick to reject the idea. Trump later claimed he was being sarcastic. [U.S. President Donald Trump saying:] “That was said sarcastically, and you know that.” His public image took another hit in June. Amid national protests against racial injustice, crowds outside the White House were cleared with pepper spray to allow a Trump photoshoot outside a church. The image would haunt the president. His approval rating dropped to a seven-month low. [Senator Kamala Harris saying:] "The case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut." In August, Biden tapped Senator Kamala Harris for his running mate. She swiftly proved herself to be a huge asset, energizing the Democratic base and bringing in big fundraising dollars. The following month, the worst fears of liberals came true. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died less than two months before the election. Trump did not hesitate to pick her replacement, giving conservatives a reason to cheer. But it also galvanized the Democrats, especially women. With much to gain, Trump came into his first debate with Biden looking for a fight. But his belligerence worked against him. Polls and focus groups showed swing voters were repulsed by his behavior. After weeks of holding huge in-person rallies, the president tested positive for COVID. It kept him off the campaign trail for 10 days. His infection made the White House look bumbling and hypocritical and it ensured the virus remained the central issue of the campaign as Election Day approached.