Trump's last-stand battle plan: Don't count all the votes | Newsday
Category: News & PoliticsVia: john-russell • 3 weeks ago • 27 comments
By: William Goldschlag and Dan Janison (Newsday)
Biden supporters at a drive-in campaign rally amid steady rain Sunday in Philadelphia. Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer
By William Goldschlag and Dan Janisonwilliam.email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Updated November 2, 2020 4:51 AM PrintShare fbShare Tweet Email
Trump's ballot-cancel culture
By law, Pennsylvania cannot start counting its unprecedented flood of absentee ballots until the polls close Tuesday night. Democrats last month sought to change the law to allow the counting to begin sooner, but Republicans who control the Keystone State's legislature said no.
President Donald Trump doesn't want them to be counted at all. The mail-in vote, which will take days or even weeks to tally, is predicted to be favorable to Joe Biden; the in-person count, which will come sooner, is expected to go Trump's way. For now, the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing Pennsylvania to count ballots postmarked by Election Day but received up to three days later. The state's 20 electoral votes could prove decisive in the election outcome.
"I don't think it's fair that we have to wait for a long period of time after the election" and it would be "terrible thing," Trump told reporters Sunday while on a five-state marathon of rallies. As soon as polls close in battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania, Trump said, "we're going in with our lawyers." The president even scolded voters worried about their ballots being recorded, saying, "If people wanted to get their ballots in, they should have gotten their ballots in long before that, a long time." (See video of his remarks.)
Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said on ABC's "This Week" that "many smart Democrats … believe President Trump will be ahead on election night" and then "they'll try to steal it back after the election." Counting absentee ballots — even if it takes days — is legal, common around the country and normal, despite Trump's drumbeat about fraud.
Trump denied a report by Axios that he was considering announcing a premature claim of victory on Tuesday night if it looks like he's "ahead," regardless of an incomplete count in Pennsylvania. Going ahead would depend on wins or commanding leads in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Iowa, Arizona and Georgia. Axios said its report was based on three sources familiar with his private comments.
In Texas, a Republican group sued seeking to throw out 127,000 votes already cast in Democratic-leaning Harris County, which includes Houston, because those voters used drive-thru balloting locations set up for safety during the pandemic. The Texas Supreme Court turned the lawyers down, but they are trying again in federal court.
Biden, when asked about the potential early victory claim by Trump, said, "My response is the president is not going to steal this election." Trump's campaign is raising money for a prolonged political and legal fight and recently began automatically checking a box to withdraw additional weekly contributions from online donors through mid-December — nearly six weeks after Election Day, The New York Times reported.
Biden: Trump is a virus
Biden began a major push in Pennsylvania on Sunday with two events in Philadelphia. "Every single vote matters," he said, noting that Trump had only won the state in 2016 by roughly 44,000 votes.
Biden drew honks and applause from a drive-in rally when he said the way to combat the pandemic is to defeat Trump. "The truth is, to beat the virus, we've first got to beat Donald Trump. He's the virus," he said.
This day in polls
Swing-state polls out on the last Sunday before Election Day show Biden leading in enough places to win, but not by enough to erase all doubt.
The Democrat is ahead in all three Rust Belt states that gave Trump his margin of victory in 2016. In Pennsylvania, Biden is in front by 6 to 7 points in ABC News/Washington Post, New York Times/Siena College and Reuters/Ipsos polling. Biden is running stronger in Michigan — ahead by 10 points, according to Reuters/Ipsos — and Wisconsin, where Times/Siena sees an 11-point lead and Reuters/Ipsos finds a 10-point edge.
Florida, which Trump can't afford to lose, looks to be a toss-up. The president has a 2-point edge in the Sunshine State in the ABC/Post survey; Times/Siena has Biden up by 3 points. Times/Siena finds Biden ahead by 6 points in Arizona.
The brightest spot for Trump is the new Iowa Poll, which sees the president leading by 7 points, breaking a tie from September. If the former vice president were to take Iowa, it would be a harbinger of a potential landslide. All the swing states' polls are of likely voters.
The national picture hasn't budged. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of registered voters find Biden leading by 10 points, 52% to 42%.
Janison: Why every vote matters
Supporters of either Trump or Biden are clearly motivated to vote this year even in states that won't be close in the battle for the Electoral College, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
For any president, winning more votes in a democracy offers the intangible value of a popular mandate. Otherwise, Trump might not have bothered to create unfounded "fraud" scenarios to excuse his having lost the popular vote four years ago by nearly 3 million ballots.
This election has a different shape because an incumbent is on the ballot. The last three presidents not only won their second terms via the Electoral College but also carried the popular vote along the way.
Whatever the rationale for keeping the Electoral College — and it's unlikely to be abolished — an instinctive feeling endures in America that the candidate with the most votes should win. This is one dynamic to consider when the results start rolling in.
Trump cheers Texas highway MAGA mayhem
A Trump supporters' caravan ambushed and surrounded a Biden campaign bus Friday on a Texas interstate highway, forcing it to slow to 20 mph, and bumped a staffer's car with one of their vehicles. Trump's response? "I LOVE TEXAS!" in a Saturday tweet, with a video clip from the incident.
It looked like the president was endorsing a dangerous harassment tactic, but Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation": "Certainly you don't want harm, and we shouldn't be hurting other people. So the president would not endorse that." Except he did later at a rally: Trump said his supporters were merely "protecting" the Biden bus "because they're nice."
The FBI is investigating the Friday incident. Upon getting that news, Trump criticized the FBI. "In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong. Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA," the president tweeted.
The bus was headed from San Antonio to an event in Austin, which the shaken campaign staff canceled.
The lies have it
As the campaign nears a close, it seems like Trump is trying out new lies to roll up with the old ones in hopes of achieving a critical mass that can tilt the race his way.
At a rally in Michigan on Friday, the president repeated an extraordinary and unfounded claim that the nation's pandemic death toll of more than 230,000 was exaggerated because American doctors were profiteering from coronavirus deaths. "You know our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right?" Trump said. "I mean, our doctors are very smart people … so what they do is they say, 'I'm sorry, but, you know, everybody dies of COVID.' "
The American Medical Association called the claim "malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided." FactCheck.org breaks down why the latest Trump effort to minimize the pandemic is false.
CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale writes that Trump's dishonesty falls into seven categories: downplaying the pandemic, misrepresenting Biden's positions, baseless election-fraud allegations, rewriting history, false and misleading economic boasts, exaggerating accomplishments and false things about seemingly trivial subjects.
Fauci: We're in bad shape
In a blunt rebuttal to Trump's claims that the U.S. is "rounding the turn" on the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday in a Washington Post interview: "We're in for a whole lot of hurt" in the months ahead. Fauci added, "It's not a good situation."
"All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly," said the government's top infectious diseases expert. In response, the White House ripped Fauci on Saturday, saying he chose "three days before an election to play politics."
At a rally in south Florida just minutes into Monday, the crowd chanted, "Fire Fauci!" Trump responded: "Don't tell anybody, but let me wait until a little a bit after the election."
Trump's current favorite coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, said in an interview with the Kremlin propaganda network RT late Saturday that the U.S. public health leadership is "killing people with their fear-inducing shutdown policies" and restated his skepticism about mask-wearing. Striking back at his critics, Atlas said "it's a sad statement on America that the U.S. is hysterical over this."
On Sunday, Atlas tweeted an apology for appearing on RT. He said he was "unaware they are a registered foreign agent. I regret doing the interview and apologize for allowing myself to be taken advantage of. I especially apologize to the national security community who is working hard to defend us."
Atlas also deleted a tweet that included a video clip from his interview and said, "If you can't handle truth, use a mask to cover your eyes and ears."
More coronavirus news
See a roundup of the latest regional pandemic developments from Long Island and beyond by Newsday's Lisa L. Colangelo. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.
What else is happening:
- From Newsday's Washington bureau, here are in-depth reports on two policy areas with stark contrasts between Trump and Biden. Laura Figueroa Hernandez looks at criminal justice issues; Tom Brune examines the differing approaches to the pandemic.
- It's November, which means October passed without an "October surprise" to dramatically shift the race in Trump's favor, writes The New York Times. There's no coronavirus vaccine yet, the pandemic is spreading faster and the push about Biden scandals hasn't broken through in a big way. Perhaps Trump ending up in the hospital with COVID-19 was a surprise, but not a helpful one for him.
- A study from Stanford Universityestimates that there have been at least 30,000 coronavirus infections and 700 deaths as a result of 18 Trump campaign rallies from June to September. A caution: The study's authors were economists, not epidemiologists, and compared data between similar counties that did and did not host rallies for coronavirus caseloads before and after. Epidemiological experts were divided over the soundness of the study's methods.
- Trump paid tribute to Sean Connery, who died Saturday, by tweeting that the Scottish actor's comments helped him win approval for a development in Scotland. "Sean was a great actor and an even greater man," Trump wrote. Scottish planning officials said Connery was no factor in their decision-making.
- A motorcade of New Jersey Trump fans stopped their vehicles and got out, blocking all the northbound express lanes of the Garden State Parkway near the Cheesequake service area on Sunday and causing a 5-mile backup, according to police. In New York, another Trump caravan staged similar traffic blockages on the Bronx-Whitestone and Mario Cuomo bridges.
- At least a dozen Trump supporterspicketed Attorney General William Barr's home in McLean, Virginia, on Saturday to protest his failure to carry out the president's call for him to "lock up" Biden.
- Trump has struggled to articulatea second-term agenda, but a report in Politico suggests a "you're fired!" theme will be part of it. Trump and his top aides want to rid his Cabinet of anyone who has crossed the president, refused to mount investigations he has demanded or urged him to take a more strict tack on the coronavirus response, the report said.
- As Trump was speaking in windy Hickory, North Carolina, Sunday night, the structure holding up the American flag collapsed behind the crowd and the press area. No one was hurt.
By William Goldschlag and Dan Janisonwilliam.email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Share on Facebook Share on Twitter