Kerry Eleveld

GOP bets its fortune on single-day record voter turnout right as coronavirus surges

As the nation soared past 80,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday for the very first time in a single day, Donald Trump was busily wrapping up a week of superspreading at a rally in a Florida retirement community known as the The Villages.

"We're rounding the corner beautifully," Trump told the mostly maskless crowd Friday evening, right around the time the country ticked past its previous record during the summer surge in the Sunbelt. As for his rival Joe Biden, Trump said, "All he talks about is COVID, COVID, COVID. Because they want to scare people." Well, there's some 225,000 fewer Americans to scare because they're already dead

But for Trump, it's all superspreader all the time. In fact, a new analysis shows that rally by rally Trump has effectively been leaving a trail of death behind him. Earlier on Friday, Trump had hosted an Oval Office event to boast about the U.S. role in normalizing relations between Israel and Sudan. Sitting behind the Resolute Desk, Trump was flanked by 40-some maskless administration officials, packed in like sardines and emitting a distinctly hostage-y vibe.

As pool reporters asked questions, Trump went out of his way to skewer Reuters' Jeff Mason for wearing "the largest mask I think I've ever seen," eliciting a few uncomfortable chuckles from the hostage crowd.

Ever since Trump contracted the virus and was oxygenated, airlifted to the hospital, pumped full of steroids and survived, his entire ethos has been that people shouldn't let COVID-19 "dominate" their lives. He likes to parade around his coterie of co-infectees such as Hope Hicks and Kayleigh McEnany as if to say, "see, my people are better than ever. No biggie."

As Trump put it at Thursday's debate, "I say we're learning to live with it. We have no choice."

Here's what 'learning to live with it' looks like in the Upper Midwestern and Mountain West states experiencing some of their worst spikes to date, according to The New York Times.

A hospital in Idaho is 99 percent full and warning that it may have to transfer coronavirus patients to hospitals in Seattle and Portland, Ore. Medical centers in Kansas City, Mo., turned away ambulances on a recent day because they had no room for more patients. And in West Allis, just outside Milwaukee, an emergency field hospital erected on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Fair admitted its first virus patient this week.

More than 41,000 people are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in the United States, a 40 percent rise in the past month, and cooler weather that pushes more people indoors is threatening to expand the outbreak still more. At least 14 states saw more people hospitalized for the virus on a day in the past week than on any other day in the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Seven more states are nearing their peaks.

We're not learning to live with it, Biden responded to Trump at the debate. "People are learning to die with it."

In fact, the first chance Biden was given to speak Thursday to the audience of some 63 million, with Trump's mic muted, he said, "220,000 Americans dead. If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this... anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America."

On Friday in Delaware, Biden gave a pointed speech demonstrating Trump's complete lack of leadership on the pandemic. Biden told voters he would go town to town if he had to in order to piece together a nationwide mask mandate.

"I'll go to every governor and ask them to mandate mask wearing in their states," Biden said, "and if they refuse, I'll go to the mayors and county executives and get local masking requirements in place nationwide."

What a concept—a president actually getting in the trenches to set down a marker and save American lives.

As he has before, Biden rejected the notion that mask wearing was the political statement Trump has turned it into. "It's a scientific imperative," he said, "It's a point of patriotic pride so we can pull our country out of this godawful spiral we're in."

Biden reminded voters that, more than eight months into this crisis, Trump still doesn't have a plan.

"He's given up. He's quit on you, He's quit on your family. He's quit on America," Biden said, adding, "We don't have to be held prisoner by this administration's failures."

That's exactly the hell we've all been living. Older Americans, parents, health care workers, first responders, governors, mayors, administrators, lawmakers—we've all been trapped in the hell of Trump's making. And because Senate Republicans have refused to lift so much as a finger to demand some kind of competency from Trump, the rest of us have been hobbled in our ability to rid ourselves of the scourge that is Trump.

But finally—finally—the moment is upon us when we can free ourselves of this incomparable idiot. And in fact, many Democrats have already voted to do so through early in-person voting or mail balloting—and many more so than Republican voters. In fact, Democrats have been running up a score that Republicans will be chasing on Election Day specifically because Trump spent months warning GOP voters away from early voting.

And so, just as the virus is surging in the some of the reddest areas of the country, Trump and Republicans have bet their entire fortunes on a one-day wave of record-shattering voting a little over a week from now.

No one upon no one is more deserving than Republican lawmakers of political ruin after their willful inaction on the worst public health crisis to hit the country in at least a century. May every last one of them feel the righteous wrath of being swept from power.

Trump used his campaign war chest like an ATM. Now it's dead broke — and GOP donors are furious

Suckers. That's clearly how major GOP donors feel after realizing that Trump's campaign is basically dead broke, he's dragging down the entire party, and he's even put Democrats in position to potentially take back the Senate.

"The Senate majority is the most important objective right now," said Dan Eberhart, who has given over $190,000 to Trump's reelection effort, according to the AP. "It's the bulwark against so much bad policy that the Democrats want to do if they sweep the elections."

Eberhart and others feel burned after the state of Trump's campaign war chest has come into clearer view in the final months of the race. Some Republicans donors even founded a separate pro-Trump super PAC, Preserve America, that was explicitly not run by Trump's people because he's clearly not sending his finest. Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson recently poured $75 million into that PAC instead of just handing it over to the Trump campaign.

"You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn't have burned through it as stupidly," veteran GOP strategist Mike Murphy told the AP of the Trump campaign's spending habits.

On the one hand, the Biden campaign is spending more than twice as much in the closing days of race—$142 million to the Trump campaign's coordinated buy with the Republican National Committee (RNC) of $55 million. On the other, Trump and his campaign aides burned through $1 billion like they were on a drunken Beverly Hills lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous bender.

There's the already reported $10 million Super Bowl ad bought by the campaign so Trump could feel powerful before Democrats had even settled on a nominee. There's also more than $310 million in spending that's concealed by a web of limited liability companies, notes the AP. And somehow, former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale managed to purchase a Ferrari, a Range Rover, a $400,000 yacht, and several million-dollar-plus condos after siphoning some $40 million from the Trump campaign alone.

But really, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Here're some other choice purchases made by the Trump camp and RNC, according to the AP:

— Nearly $100,000 to prop up the release of Donald Trump Jr.'s book, "Triggered," pushing it to the top of The New York Times' bestsellers list.

— Over $7.4 million spent at Trump-branded properties since 2017

— At least $35.2 million spent on Trump merchandise

— $38.7 million in legal and "compliance" fees, including the legal costs of his impeachment proceedings

— At least $14.1 million spent on the Republican National Convention, which was relocated several times and ended up being a mostly virtual event

— A $250,000 ad run during Game 7 of the 2019 World Series after Trump was booed by spectators for attending Game 5

— $1.6 million on TV ads so Trump could see himself in the Washington, D.C., media market, where Biden is polling at about 87%

Perhaps the best strategic decision was back in May, when Parscale unleashed $176 million in spending to drag down Biden in public polling. That worked out well.

Suburban women are on a mission to save America — and it may not stop at ousting Trump

rom politically apathetic to pants on fire urgency, Lori Goldman of Troy, Michigan, is among the ranks of suburban women who have felt called to duty by the existential threat to America that is Donald Trump.

Dressed in yoga pants and sneakers and whizzing through suburban streets on the state's east side to leave no door unknocked, Goldman has taken on the very mantra that many Democratic strategists have employed to help fight the complacency that some believe led to Hillary Clinton's defeat in 2016.

"We take nothing for granted," she told her canvassing partner, according to the Associated Press. "They say Joe Biden is ahead. Nope. We work like Biden is behind 20 points in every state."

These suburban women stories are everywhere now and they tell a similar tale of mostly white suburban women—some of whom voted Trump in 2016 and others of whom did not—feeling called to effect a different outcome for themselves, for their family, for other families, and for the nation in 2020.

Goldman founded the group Fems for Dems in early 2016 with an email to a few hundred of her friends. Now the group boasts nearly 9,000 members. She may drink Aperol spritzers and have her sights trained on the tony Detroit suburbs of Michigan's Oakland County, but make no mistake—she's taking no prisoners.

"I hate the saying, 'When they go low, we go high.' That's loser talk," she says. "You can be right all day, but if you're not winning, what's the point?"

Clinton actually did win Oakland County by about eight points in 2016, but she did so by fewer points than Barack Obama in 2012. The difference in their win margins alone could have cut Trump's 10,700-vote triumph in the state by half, according to the AP.

Two years later, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and now-governor Gretchen Whitmer doubled Clinton's margin in the county, while Democrat Elissa Slotkin unseated a GOP incumbent to represent the district. And while Goldman has successfully grown her group of "dumpy, middle-aged housewives" as she once called them, she is simultaneously dismayed by how fatigued many of her members grown by the daily the churn of Trump crazy.

"Our house is on fire," Goldman says.

Portraits of transformation like that of Goldman abound in these stories. And some of those transitions include a more comprehensive outlook on what their vote means for the nation rather than just their own self interests.

Kate Rabinovitch of Westerville, Ohio, reluctantly voted for Trump in 2016 and now spends all her in-between moments texting with friends and family and generating social media posts to turn the tide against him.

Rabinovitch, who has a 4-year-old son, has many objections to Trump, but she also pinpointed the killing of George Floyd as a seminal moment for her. Before February, she said, racism wasn't a key issue for her. But watching that video really impressed upon her the structural racism that continues to plague the country.

"I have to think of everybody," Rabinovitch told The New York Times. "So if I'm voting against Donald Trump, that's not a vote for me or a vote for my son. That's a vote for everyone. Everyone's sons."

Ohio-based Katie Paris founded Red, Wine, and Blue, an all-female team of suburbanites working to organize suburban women for Ohio Democrats. The Times describes Paris' political ethos as one part Obama strategist David Plouffe, one part psychological researcher Brené Brown—a combination of clear-eyed data analysis and vulnerable peer conversations. She also specifically feels the pull of white women needing to do their part to turn the country around.

"We can't leave this all on Black voters to carry all the weight in Ohio," said Paris, who is white. "It's going to take all of us."

And while all these women are making an immediate push to oust Trump, many of them also seem committed to a longer haul vision of transforming the country—or at least a sustained change in their own political alignments that could create long-term trouble for Republicans.

"I cannot imagine a Republican candidate that I would rally behind," says Ohioan Hannah Dasgupta, a young mother of two who grew up in a conservative home. "Wow, that's mind-blowing to think about. That's a huge departure."

Trump's final ad buy betrays just how broke his campaign really is

On a call Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien revealed the campaign's total ad buy for the last two weeks of the presidential race would be a whopping a paltry $55 million ... split between no fewer than 11 states.

Um, just wow. And that's not only the Trump campaign, it represents coordinated spending with the Republican National Committee (RNC) too. Far from being a muscular way to close out the race, it feels more like a cry for help. By comparison, Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said last week that she still anticipates raising another $234 million through the election.

The 11 states included on the target list for both entities are: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine-2, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

According to an Axios article last week, Stepien views Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Maine's 2nd district as the foundation of their path to 270—in other words, must gets. In fact, the article quoted Stepien calling that line up the "easy part," but apparently not so easy that they're forgoing dropping money in all four supposed gimmes.

As New York Times journalist Shane Goldmacher, who was on the call, noted, "On the one hand, Stepien says he is 'certain' that they are winning Ohio and Iowa. On the other hand, he announces the campaign will be up with ads in those two states in final two weeks." Go figure.

One state the Trump campaign appears to have finally given up on altogether is Minnesota. Earlier on Monday, the Trump camp had announced cancelling ad buys in several Midwestern states even as they were preparing to reinvest in some of them through this coordinated ad buy with the RNC. But Minnesota, which has pretty much always been a pipe dream for Team Trump, was dropped altogether.

Even before this final Trump ad buy in the closing weeks, Biden's ad spending had outpaced Trump's by a 2-to-1 ratio for months, according to The New York Times. In a review of the two campaigns' spending in 10 battleground states, the only state where Trump outspent Biden was Georgia—which doesn't exactly jibe with that state's inclusion in Stepien's so-called "easy" list.

Biden's spending strategy has clearly centered on the Midwest. "His dominance is most pronounced in three critical swing states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where he spent about $53 million to Mr. Trump's $17 million over the past month largely on ads assailing the president's handling of the virus as well as the economy and taxes," writes the Times.

And while Trump initially enjoyed a digital ad advantage in the early part of the campaign, Biden has steadily closed that gap in recent months, achieving near parity in the last 30 days at $50 million for each ad campaign on Google and Facebook, according to the Times.

What is perhaps most interesting in these final weeks is just how small Trump is playing even as Team Biden has played very big—and not just in terms of overall spending. As this Politico piece explains, the Biden campaign has seen so many paths to 270 open up that in some cases they realized it would be more cost effective to make national buys rather than spending astronomical amounts in smaller battleground markets. It's a worth a read.

Under normal circumstances, most campaigns at this point would be making buys to leverage their position in 10 or even fewer states. But the Biden campaign realized that making some national buys through the networks would actually cost only slightly more, for instance, than purchasing air time in states with major Senate races like Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia, where pricing had gone through the roof. The big upside of the national buys was that they had the advantage of not only reaching the desired markets in key battlegrounds but also establishing a Biden presence in states that were newly on the radar, like Texas.

"We are looking at a very wide map right now," Becca Siegel, the Biden campaign's chief analytics officer, said. "Normally at this stage of the campaign, we would be narrowing in. But at this stage of the campaign, we have a lot of pathways that have opened up."

So as Trump closes out with a whimper, Biden is heading out with a roar, and his sizable cash advantage has made all that possible.

Trump could sink vulnerable Senate Republicans even in states he manages to win

Donald Trump's parting gift to vulnerable Senate Republicans is that he appears to be a drag on them with both his most loyal supporters and the swing voters they need to win their reelection bids.

In several of the most crucial Senate races, Trump is running ahead of his Senate GOP counterparts. In some cases, Trump might even win the state while the corresponding Senate Republican loses their race. In others, they both appear poised to lose the state but the Senate Republican could suffer a bigger defeat.

What this suggests is that Trump's wild support among MAGA enthusiasts isn't making the 1-to-1 transfer to his Senate colleagues—meaning their blind loyalty to Trump hasn't paid the dividends they anticipated. At the same time, Senate Republicans' studied obsequiousness to Trump has hobbled their chances of winning enough moderate and independent voters to be assured they can prevail in their reelection bids.

In North Carolina, for instance, Trump and GOP Sen. Thom Tillis are both losing to their Democratic rivals according to polling composites, but Tillis is running behind Trump. According to Washington Post aggregates of the races, Trump has 45% support to Tillis' 41%.

In Georgia, the Post has Trump running slightly ahead of Joe Biden, 48% to 46%, but Sen. David Perdue only garners 46% support. It's worth noting the some aggregates show Biden just slightly ahead or virtually tied. But more crucially to Sen. Perdue, if he can't clear the 50% threshold in the state, he'll be forced into a two-way runoff with Democrat Jon Ossoff.

South Carolina's Senate race is wild and GOP incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham is still favored to win reelection, though Democrat Jamie Harrison has made a real race of it. But in last week's New York Times/Siena poll, for instance, Trump enjoyed a "very favorable" rating among 79% of GOP voters while only 54% said the same of Graham. The survey also showed Trump up by 8 points, while Graham was winning by 6 points.

In Iowa, polls show a dead heat between Trump and Biden in the presidential race but incumbent Senator Joni Ernst is fairing worse against her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. The Post aggregates have Trump winning 46% of voters to Ernst's 44% of voters.

It's kind of beautiful, when you think about it. After Senate Republicans built Trump into a monster by underwriting every abhorrent thing he's done and then acquitting him of all wrongdoing to boot, they're getting punished for selling out America on both sides of the electoral equation.

The Texas Senate race is suddenly getting very interesting

The race for U.S. Senate in Texas has gotten a lot hotter than incumbent GOP Sen. John Cornyn ever imagined at the outset of this cycle. Due to Cornyn and his Republican senate colleagues building Donald Trump into the monster that escaped from lab, Cornyn's Democratic challenger MJ Hegar is breathing down his neck in her bid to unseat him.

In fact, a Public Policy Polling survey released Friday put Hegar just a few points down. "MJ Hegar trails John Cornyn just 49-46, making up for the Republican lean of the state thanks to a 55-34 advantage with independent voters," writes PPP. The polling outfit also noted the race was surprisingly close given that Cornyn has a 15-point advantage in name recognition.

76% of voters have an opinion about him with 39% rating him favorably and 37% unfavorably. 61% of voters have an opinion about Hegar with 32% rating her favorably and 29% unfavorably.

In other words, if Hegar managed to up her name recognition in these closing weeks, she certainly stands a chance of closing that 3-point gap.

Senate Democrats' top super PAC liked those odds. The day before PPP's survey was released, Senate Majority PAC announced it was directing $8.6 million toward the race for both English and Spanish-language ads that begin airing Friday and run through Election Day. The first ad focuses on Cornyn's numerous votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"Three weeks out, and John Cornyn has a weaker standing than Ted Cruz ever did," J.B. Poersch, President of Senate Majority PAC, said in a statement. Of course, Cruz only edged out Democrat Beto O'Rourke by about 2.5 points in 2018.

Hegar also raised almost double what Cornyn did in the third quarter, bringing in nearly $14 million to his $7.2 million. That haul basically erased the GOP senator's cash advantage. From June through September, Cornyn spent more than twice as much as Hegar, $13.7 million to $6.4 million, according to the Dallas Morning News.

But between Hegar's increased fundraising and some help from Senate Majority PAC, Hegar is poised to make a real run at Cornyn in these final weeks.

Since 2016, the state has added more than 1.5 million voters to its rolls. On the first day of early voting Tuesday, both Harris and Dallas Counties shattered their previous first-day turnout records in what are two of the bluest counties in the state.

Strapped for cash Trump all but abandons the Midwest to salvage the Sunbelt

When a campaign piddles away precious resources on advertising in Washington, D.C. so the candidate can see himself on TV, sometimes it's not the smartest move. The Trump campaign clearly made many other not-so-smart financial moves too.

And so, three weeks out from an election in which Trump is trailing by double-digits nationally and running weak or even behind in must-win states, the Trump campaign is now making some painful advertising choices that include mostly abandoning the Midwest.

Trump, for instance, "yanked more than $17 million" from Ohio, Iowa, and New Hampshire in the six weeks since the GOP convention, according to the L.A. Times. That's particularly notable because Trump needs Ohio and Iowa to win and he's running almost even with Joe Biden in both states.

Trump has also cut $11 million in ad space since the end of August in Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and Wisconsin. By a handful of points or more, Biden is running solidly ahead in every one of those states in polling aggregates, and in 2016 Michigan and Wisconsin both helped push Trump across the 270 electoral vote threshold.

Those decisions appear to have all been made so Trump can push resources to states he absolutely has to defend in Sunbelt region. In the last six weeks, the Times notes Trump has directed an extra $18 million to ad buys in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona.

Pennsylvania appears to be the one Rust Belt state the Trump campaign can't afford to surrender. The campaign reportedly pulled $2 million in ads from the state in September but has been increasing spending there in recent weeks.

Nonetheless, Biden maintains a gigantic edge in spending, maintaining his presence in the key Midwestern states that narrowly swung Trump's direction in 2016, while pushing into other states that weren't originally viewed as competitive: Ohio, Iowa, Georgia, and Texas. In the past week ending Monday, the Biden campaign spent twice as much on TV and radio ads as Trump's campaign, $36 million to $18 million. A similar picture emerges since early September, with Biden spending nearly $95 million on TV spots to Trump's $41 million. But CNBC reports that the two campaigns spent roughly the same amount—a little over $5 million—on Facebook ads over the past week.

Hillary Clinton also outspent Trump on ads during the 2016, but one thing Trump hasn't been getting the luxury of this cycle is the enormous amount of free earned media coverage he got at nearly every raucous rally he held. Particularly in these closing months, Trump's rallies have been limited and the mere fact of him holding events that both can and have turned into superspreader events cuts both ways in any case.

Nonetheless, Trump addressed several hundred people from the White House balcony Saturday for roughly 18 minutes, and he has rallies planned this week in Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and North Carolina. On Sunday, Trump declared himself "totally negative" for COVID-19 but provided no evidence for that.

'It just keeps getting worse': Trump defectors and 2016 nonvoters help cement Biden's growing lead

The major question for Democrats following 2016 was whether the party should focus on trying to win over some of the white voters who turned their backs on the party to vote for Donald Trump, or whether turning out the cycle's non-voters and and driving up numbers among the party's base was the path to taking back the White House in 2020. The Biden campaign appears to be succeeding in doing a bit of both, and to very good effect.

Ruth Mierzwa, a Pennsylvania business owner, told The Washington Post that she simply couldn't bring herself to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016, so she settled on neither and voted third-party. Not this time around.

"Trump is just so scary at this point that I don't think I can waste my vote on a third party," she said. "It just keeps getting worse. From his pick for the Supreme Court to his racist comments to his degrading anyone who doesn't agree with him to his handling of the virus. I can go on and on."

The Post released a national poll Sunday that put Biden up 12 points over Trump, and it's no outlier. National polling aggregates at the The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, and even RealClearPolitics have Biden leading by 10 points.

Another outlet that gave Biden a 10-point advantage last week was Pew Research Center, which also found that nearly half of people who voted third party in 2016 now lean or support Biden at 49% while 26% say they plan to vote for Trump. The outfit also found Biden leading solidly among voters who didn't vote in 2016, 54-38%.


As for independents, the Post poll found Biden winning those voters by 12 points. That's a 16-point turnaround from the exit polling in 2016, when Trump won the bloc by four points.

Those takeaways from the Post and Pew surveys were backed up by battleground state polling released Monday from the New York Times and Siena College that found Biden ahead in Michigan by eight points, 48-40%, and in Wisconsin by 10 points, 51-41%.

Trump, writes the Times, "faces modest but significant defections among white and independent voters, while facing a groundswell of opposition from those who voted for a minor-party candidate or didn't vote at all in 2016."

Among likely voters in Michigan, Biden is losing whites by just one point, 44-45%, whereas Trump won the demographic by 21 points in the exits. And Biden is ruining Trump among independents, 48-31%, after Trump won the group by 16 points in 2016—a net 33-point turnaround.

Among likely voters in Wisconsin, the Times shows Biden winning whites by eight points, 51-43%, after Trump won them by 11 points in 2016. Biden is also trouncing Trump among independents by 18 points, 52-34%, after Trump won the group by 10 points in 2016.

Overall, after polling 5,556 respondents in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Ohio, the Times has found those voters backed Trump by 2.6 points in 2016—matching his actual 2.6-point margin of victory across the six states that year. But now, they support Biden across all six states, with the sample of 5,556 voters favoring Biden overall by six points. According to the Times, three demographic groups have contributed to that change in fortunes: Trump defectors (or vote switchers), third-party flips, and 2016 nonvoters. While all three groups make up a relatively modest slice of voters, they have all moved heavily in the direction of Biden in these six Northern battleground states.

Trump plans his next White House superspreader event for Saturday

Nose-to-the-grindstone Donald Trump is getting back to his mission: personally spreading the coronavirus to as many Americans as humanly possible.

So even as the White House continues to dodge all questions concerning Trump's COVID-19 status, Trump is planning an event Saturday (yes, Oct. 10!) with hundreds of people for "his first in-person event since he announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus," reports The New York Times.

Enticing! Who exactly will show nobody knows, since most of Trump's besties are still sidelined following his last coronavirus bash two weeks ago. But Trump will reportedly reprise his triumphant "Covita" return from Walter Reed Medical Center earlier this week.

The president was expected to make remarks from one of the balconies at the White House to the crowd, which was expected to include people attending an event elsewhere in Washington staged by a Trump supporter, Candace Owens, one of the people familiar with the plans said.

One person who clearly won't be there is GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told reporters Thursday he had deliberately steered clear of the White House since August since it was clearly a COVID-19 hot zone in the making based on its lax protocols.

Nonetheless, Trump deftly sidestepped McConnell on the way to infecting several members of the Senate Republican caucus, hobbling the U.S. military's top brass and turning the White House into one of the "most dangerous places in the country," as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it. Tragically, Trump's superspreader event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett may have also sent the virus back to Barrett's community, where one teacher and two students recently tested positive at the small private school in South Bend, Indiana, which is attended by some of Barrett's children.

Anyway, things could change. As of yesterday, Trump was also planning a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. As of today, he wasn't. And after calling off coronavirus relief negotiations a couple days ago, Trump is now demanding the biggest, bestest deal ever.

So, yeah, Trump's not well. Things could change.

Trump and Pence are doing their best to alienate women voters

If suburban women heard it once during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday, they heard some version of it more than a dozen times. "Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking," Sen. Kamala Harris said, as she fought through Mike Pence's verbal badgering to make the point that Donald Trump lied to the country about how lethal the coronavirus is.

Pence's manner wasn't nearly as bellicose as the disastrous performance Trump gave during last week's presidential debate, but he still repeatedly talked over Harris and sought to steal her time throughout the hour-and-a-half debate. MSNBC reported Thursday morning that Pence had interrupted Harris at least 16 times—giving the suburban women the Trump-Pence ticket so desperately needs at least 16 reasons to stick with the Biden-Harris ticket.

It's not like it was a small transgression. When debate moderator and USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page laid out the ground rules for the evening, she stipulated that Harris and Pence would have two minutes to respond to each question "without interruption." In fact, in an effort to preempt another debate circus, Page reminded both candidates that they had two minutes to respond "without interruption" or "uninterrupted" no less than 13 times.

But Pence, with all that honest-to-goodness white male privilege of his, clearly figured the rules didn't apply to him. He talked over Page, he talked over Harris, and frankly, Harris repeatedly lobbied to be afforded more time after Pence siphoned away her precious seconds.

In fact, some of Harris' biggest zingers came after she fought for extra time to make her points. Roughly 30 minutes into the debate, as Harris reminded viewers that Trump was in court "right now, trying to get rid of" the Affordable Care Act, Page started to cut her off.

"He interrupted me and I'd like to just finish, please," Harris noted, before continuing, "If you have a preexisting condition—heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer—they're coming for you. If you love someone who has a preexisting condition, they're coming for you. If you are under the age of 26 on your parents' coverage, they're coming for you."

Pence tried to cut Harris off, calling her charge "nonsense," but it was a clear and forceful moment for Harris as she looked directly at the camera to address viewers watching from their living rooms across America.

But if Pence's 16 interruptions weren't enough reasons for suburban women to stay in the Biden-Harris camp, here's a 17th: Harris ultimately logged almost exactly as much speaking time as Pence, with Pence getting 36 minutes and 27 seconds to Harris' 36 minutes and 24 seconds. Any woman who's fought her way into a male-dominated conversation in a board room knows that equal time didn't come without a fight.

And if those 17 reasons weren't enough, Trump's personal post-debate outreach to "Suburban Housewives of America" surely was.

Let's count Trump's two references to Harris as a "monster" on Thursday morning as reasons number 18 and 19 to flee the GOP ticket—as if the suburban women of America needed any more reasons to ditch Republicans altogether.

Watch Harris fight to make one of the most important points of the night.

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