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President Trump has called off plans to appear at the Trump International Hotel on election night and is likely to be at the White House instead, according to a person familiar with the plans.
Advisers had said privately that Mr. Trump was going to appear at his namesake hotel in Washington for an election night party for which his campaign had sent out multiple fund-raising solicitations to his supporters.
“November 3rd will go down in history as the night we won FOUR MORE YEARS. It will be absolutely EPIC, and the only thing that could make it better is having YOU there,” read one solicitation from the president that included an image of Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, under the words “Join us on election night.”
It was unclear why the plans had changed. But the prospect of the president appearing on the night of the election at the hotel was certain to reinforce concerns about Mr. Trump mingling the office with his business.
It would also reinforce questions about whether the hotel would be in violation of Washington coronavirus restrictions limiting gatherings to 50 people. And a party would have to be paid for by the campaign, which is facing a cash crunch in the final weeks of the race.
A spokesman for Mr. Trump declined to comment.
The last-minute change comes at a time when the president’s opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., has maintained a substantial lead in national polls and a smaller one in several key states.
For the last several days, Mr. Trump, who is deeply superstitious, has tried to recreate as many of the conditions that obtained during his successful 2016 campaign as possible.
Aside from his blunt efforts to raise questions about business dealings by Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter, that parallel how he attacked Hillary Clinton in 2016, Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with the people he was with in the final days of that race, such as David Bossie, who then served as the deputy campaign manager, as well as his adviser Hope Hicks and another campaign hand, Jason Miller.
Mr. Trump’s approach to politics has always been to treat it as something of a mystical proposition, governed by otherworldly forces in a world in which things generally work out in his favor. The voting results after a campaign in which Mr. Trump has been judged harshly by voters for his performance during the coronavirus pandemic could tell him a very different story.
With Election Day less than 100 hours away, the Trump and Biden campaigns are fanning out across the crucial swing states that are likely to decide the race. The president will campaign in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin today, while Joseph R. Biden Jr. travels to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Mr. Biden has already made the remarkably bold pronouncement that he would win Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, three battleground states that could be his keys to victory. And his decision to add Iowa to his final campaign itinerary — along with Georgia, another state that Mr. Trump won handily in 2016 — is a further sign of confidence.
“I am not overconfident about anything,” Mr. Biden said earlier this week. “I just want to make sure we can earn every vote possible.”
The Friday events follow a day of dueling campaign appearances in Florida on Thursday, the most elusive prize in Tuesday’s election — and a state that recent polls suggest is effectively tied.
The rare convergence of the two men in the same city, Tampa, on the same day was one of the clearest signs yet that both candidates were far from confident of victory in Florida.
Though Mr. Biden has gained ground with the older voters who were once solidly part of Mr. Trump’s base, the president is immensely popular with conservative Republicans in Florida and has recently made inroads with Latino voters. On Thursday, he sought to win over independents and moderates with allegations of corruption among Democrats, a line of attack that he has had difficulty making stick against Mr. Biden.
The release of data on Thursday showing record-breaking economic growth during the third quarter offered Mr. Trump an opening to tout a rare piece of good news in the campaign’s final stretch. But in Tampa, he spent only about 10 minutes on the economy, and he mocked Republicans who had repeatedly advised him to focus on his economic record instead of lashing out at enemies.
“They say, ‘Talk about your economic success. Talk about 33.1 percent, the greatest in history,’ Mr. Trump said in a speech, hours before Mr. Biden was set to appear at a rally across town. “Now, look, if I do, I mean, how many times can I say it?”
Mr. Biden was more disciplined as he continued to hammer the president’s handling of the coronavirus, in a state whose death toll from Covid-19 stands at more than 16,000. He also made a blunt appeal to Latinos, a demographic he has so far struggled to broadly galvanize, by discussing human rights abuses in Cuba and Venezuela.
“President Trump can’t advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people or the Venezuelan people, for that matter, when he has praised so many autocrats around the world,” Mr. Biden said during a speech in Broward County, a Democratic stronghold.
The former vice president acknowledged the unique role the state would play in determining the winner. “If we win Florida, it’s game time, it’s over, it’s over,” he said while visiting an outdoor campaign office in Fort Lauderdale.
But, as with Mr. Trump, it was unclear whether his message would resonate with enough voters to help ensure a winning coalition.
Voters in several swing states are casting their ballots even as the coronavirus reaches new peaks in their communities, creating more uncertainty about how they will vote — and for whom.
The pandemic has killed nearly 230,000 people in the United States and upended the nation’s economy. Over the past week, 24 states have added more cases than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic.
On Thursday, the country recorded at least 90,000 new cases and crossed the threshold of nine million cases — the highest national total in the world, although some countries have had more cases in proportion to their populations.
Now the virus could help decide the presidential election.
Some electoral battlegrounds, like Michigan and North Carolina, are seeing record numbers of new cases and deaths. Hospitals in Wisconsin and other hard-hit areas are reaching capacity, pushing health care providers to the brink and leaving their workers reeling.
“Things are really running rampant, so there is a lot of discontent,” said Barry Burden, the director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Wisconsin, which announced more than 200 coronavirus deaths over the past week, narrowly voted for President Trump in 2016. But the virus may change the outlook for him there.
“I do think it provides more of a challenge for Trump to try and win the state, because any news about the pandemic — it’s not good for him,” Dr. Burden said.
The pandemic has also already complicated the voting process itself. Because of concerns that the virus will hamper people’s ability to vote, several states have encouraged mail-in voting. About 1.64 million people had returned absentee ballots in Wisconsin as of Thursday, more than half of the total ballots cast in 2016.
In other battleground states like North Carolina, Florida and — this year — Texas, the president could see fading support from Republicans frustrated by what they see as a lackluster federal response to the coronavirus. Those states may also see higher turnout among Democrats who voted by mail for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“Enthusiasm for turning out for Trump among Trump supporters will wane somewhat, and so it will affect turnout somewhat,” said John Aldrich, a professor of political science at Duke University. “I don’t think it’s going to be a massive thing.”
Still, he said, in places where elections can come down to a few thousand votes, “everything matters.”
In dueling campaign appearance in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, the candidates launched scathing attacks at each other over the virus. Mr. Trump continued to play down the pandemic, telling a mostly maskless crowd that Mr. Biden would bring the economy to a grounding halt, while Mr. Biden called the Trump rally a “super-spreader event.”
On Friday, the Trump campaign will have to limit the size of a rally in Minnesota to 250 people because of statewide rules designed to limit the spread of infection. The campaign bristled at the restrictions, calling them “free speech-stifling dictates.”
A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that Minnesota election officials must segregate any ballots that arrive after 8 p.m. on Election Day, reversing the state’s seven-day grace period that had been in place for ballots postmarked by Election Day.
The ruling, which comes just five days before Election Day, could have a significant impact on voting in the state if any late arriving ballots are eventually not counted. As of Thursday night an estimated 578,000 absentee ballots that had been requested in the state had not been returned, based on figures from the U.S. Elections Project. Many of those ballots could already be in the mail, and voters can still return those ballots in person.
In a 2-to-1 ruling, the court said that the Minnesota secretary of state “extended the deadline for receipt of ballots without legislative authorization” and therefore the ballot extension did not have the proper legal authority.
“The consequences of this order are not lost on us,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion. “We acknowledge and understand the concerns over voter confusion, election administration issues, and public confidence in the election.”
But, the court said, “we conclude the challenges that will stem from this ruling are preferable to a postelection scenario where mail-in votes, received after the statutory deadline, are either intermingled with ballots received on time or invalidated without prior warning. Better to put those voters on notice now while they still have at least some time to adjust their plans and cast their votes in an unquestionably lawful way.”
Judge Jane L. Kelly, in a dissenting opinion, said that the decision “will cause voter confusion and undermine Minnesotans’ confidence in the election process.” She said it also risks disenfranchising voters in Minnesota.
Elections officials in the state have been instructing voters who had not mailed their ballots by Oct. 27 to return them by drop box or to vote in person. But the decision still puts the fate of an unknown number of ballots at risk.
The court instructed elections officials to segregate and maintain all ballots that arrive after the 8 p.m. deadline.
Democrats in Minnesota decried the decision.
“In the middle of a pandemic, the Republican Party is doing everything to make it hard for you to vote,” Senator Amy Klobuchar, the senior senator from Minnesota and a Democrat, said on Twitter. “Stand up for YOUR rights: Vote in-person or take mail-in ballot directly to ballot box.”
With recent electoral history and current polls suggesting that Democrats are likely to make gains in the vote-rich suburbs nearly everywhere, President Trump’s path to re-election has always required expanding his support in rural and exurban counties in Pennsylvania, as well as in other Great Lakes states where he squeezed out slight victories in 2016.
Now that early voting is underway, the question of whether he can increase that support is no longer academic. Mr. Trump is attracting tens of thousands of voters who sat out 2016 in Pennsylvania. Around 24 percent of the 392,000 registered Republicans who have cast early mail-in votes in the state did not vote four years ago, according to TargetSmart, a Democratic elections data firm.
But before the Trump campaign takes a victory lap, the same data analysis shows that in Pennsylvania — where at least 1.8 million voters had returned ballots as of Wednesday — Democrats are keeping pace. About one in four of the 1.2 million registered Democrats who have voted did not vote in 2016.
Both parties are succeeding in one of their chief goals this year: to motivate large numbers of infrequent voters or nonvoters to come off the sidelines for what supporters of both nominees call the most crucial election of a lifetime. It was a goal that eluded Senator Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary, but with Democrats united, Joseph R. Biden Jr. is pulling it off. And Mr. Trump is answering critics who said his appeal was limited to those in his base who voted for him four years ago.
The trends playing out in Pennsylvania are seen across 14 battleground states, where more than 9.3 million people who didn’t vote in 2016 have already cast ballots this year, making up 25 percent of the early vote in those states.
“The fact that one in four didn’t vote in 2016 suggests there’s a whole lot of these turnout targets who didn’t come out before, who have been motivated to come out,” said Tom Bonier, the chief executive of TargetSmart.
So far, the data shows that more Democratic-leaning voters who didn’t cast ballots in 2016 are turning out than Republican-leaning voters. “Nationally, Democrats have a modeled advantage of 14.5 percent with those non-2016 voters,” Mr. Bonier said.
But that is partly because Mr. Trump has made mail-in ballots toxic to many of his supporters through his frequent (and unfounded) claims that mail voting is ripe for fraud. Trump supporters are expected to dominate in-person voting on Election Day in some battleground states.
A presidential election that has driven a nation to drink is being fought to the bitter end by two men who do not.
For the first time in modern history, both major party candidates for the White House are teetotalers. President Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., have not had an alcoholic drink over the course of their lives, by their own accounts.
This Teetotaler Campaign, and the fact that this circumstance has drawn so little notice, is to some extent evidence of how the once hard-drinking culture of politics is changing. Candidates, campaign aides and reporters are drinking less, aware of the scrutiny that comes in the age of cellphones and Twitter, not to mention the nonstop demands of a round-the-clock campaign.
But it also goes to the way Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, for all their stark differences, share some similarities in character and background, according to biographers and others who have observed them over the years. They each grew up in families shadowed by the specter of alcoholism — Mr. Trump’s brother died from it, and one of Mr. Biden’s favorite uncles, whom he lived with growing up, was a heavy drinker.
Both have distanced themselves from the boozy social circuits in Washington and New York, Mr. Biden because he was commuting home to his family in Delaware every night and Mr. Trump because he tends to be more comfortable at home watching television.
But more than anything, it is testament to the nature of two fiercely ambitious men, and their calculation that alcohol would put them at a disadvantage, be it in the world of politics or New York City development, or running a casino.
“These are two intensely competitive men who made a judgment early in their careers that their path to success is going to be willing themselves into the positions they wanted,” said Evan Osnos, the author of a just-completed biography of Mr. Biden. “That did not leave much room for getting drunk.”
In the waning days of the presidential race, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden is straying way off the traditional political map to chase votes: He delivered a closing argument in an op-ed published Friday by a prominent South Korean news agency.
In the article he submitted to Yonhap News Agency, Mr. Biden presented himself as someone who would be an unwavering ally to South Korea and an advocate for immigrants, seeking to draw a contrast between himself and President Trump.
Mr. Biden also suggested that the United States could learn from South Korea’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, calling the South a “global leader in the fight against” the coronavirus.
At a stage in the campaign when candidates’ choices of where and how to spend their resources are intensely dissected, Mr. Biden’s submission of an op-ed to a foreign news agency was unusual. But the true intended audience may have been in the United States. According to the Migration Policy Institute, three swing states — Texas, Georgia and Pennsylvania — are among the 10 states with the largest populations of Korean immigrants.
The op-ed, which harkened back to Mr. Biden’s 2013 visit to the heavily armed Demilitarized Zone separating the South from North Korea, did not mention the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, by name. But it echoed Mr. Biden’s past criticism of Mr. Trump’s collegiality with the dictator, and it denounced Mr. Trump’s threats to withdraw American troops from South Korea.
“Words matter — and a president’s words matter even more,” Mr. Biden wrote. “As President, I’ll stand with South Korea, strengthening our alliance to safeguard peace in East Asia and beyond, rather than extorting Seoul with reckless threats to remove our troops.” He said he would “keep pressing toward a denuclearized North Korea and a unified Korean Peninsula.”
Many South Koreans have been alarmed by Mr. Trump’s repeated questioning of the value of keeping 28,500 American troops in South Korea. He has demanded that South Korea contribute vastly more to the cost of the United States military presence there, and he has suspended major joint military exercises with the South, calling them too expensive.
A September survey of 1,002 South Korean adults by Korea Gallup found 59 percent of the respondents favoring Mr. Biden as the next American leader, compared with 16 percent who preferred Mr. Trump.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a small but durable lead over President Trump in North Carolina, where 64 percent of likely voters say they have already cast their ballots, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released on Thursday.
And in a North Carolina race crucial to the control of the Senate, the Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, maintains a 46 to 43 percent edge over Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, despite a late-breaking scandal over romantic texts Mr. Cunningham sent to a woman who is not his wife.
Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump 48 percent to 45 percent in the survey, which was conducted after the final presidential debate last week. Mr. Trump’s performance received mixed reviews in North Carolina, with voters split nearly evenly on who they thought won.
President Trump made his ninth campaign visit to North Carolina early September on Thursday. His focus on the state suggests that his campaign is worried about losing a battleground the president won by about 3.5 percentage points in 2016.
Mr. Trump abruptly canceled a planned campaign rally in Fayetteville, N.C., on Thursday afternoon, citing high winds. But Air Force One nevertheless flew to Fort Bragg, a military base near Fayetteville, where Mr. Trump met with the Army special operations team that conducted the raid last year that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terror group.
Asked about the canceled rally, Mr. Trump told reporters: “The wind was terrible” and said “we’re redoing it on Monday.”
Senator David Perdue of Georgia withdrew on Thursday from the final debate in his tight re-election race, a day after his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, called him a “crook” and accused the Republican of trying to profit from the coronavirus pandemic.
The rivals had been scheduled to face off on Sunday, the third debate in one of two pivotal Senate races in Georgia that could determine which party controls the chamber. The candidates had committed to the debate in September, according to Mr. Ossoff’s campaign.
The news broke when Mr. Ossoff wrote on Twitter that Mr. Perdue had canceled on him.
“At last night’s debate, millions saw that Perdue had no answers when I called him out on his record of blatant corruption, widespread disease, and economic devastation,” Mr. Ossoff wrote. “Shame on you, Senator.”
A spokesman for Mr. Perdue confirmed that he would not be at the debate and said in a statement that the senator had better uses of his time.
Mr. Ossoff’s stinging comments about Mr. Perdue’s conduct came during a bruising debate that underscored the bitter partisan divide in what was once a safely Republican state.
Mr. Perdue, a wealthy former corporate executive, bought stock in DuPont de Nemours, which sells personal protective equipment, on Jan. 24, the same day he received a classified briefing on the threat posed by the coronavirus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“It’s not just that you’re a crook, Senator,” Mr. Ossoff said, turning to face his socially-distanced opponent as Mr. Perdue’s eyes remained fixed on the camera. “It’s that you’re attacking the health of the people that you represent. You did say Covid-19 was no deadlier than the flu. You did say there would be no significant uptick in cases. All the while you were looking after your own assets and your own portfolio.”
Mr. Perdue, 70, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and said any transactions he made were executed by a financial adviser without his knowledge.
“The thing I’m most upset about,” Mr. Perdue said of Mr. Ossoff, “is that he’ll say and do anything to my friends in Georgia to mislead them about how radical and socialist” his agenda is.
Recent polls have found Mr. Perdue and Mr. Ossoff, 33, in a dead heat. If neither candidate hits 50 percent of the vote, they will compete in a runoff election in January.
Georgia’s other Senate race is also close, though the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat and pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has led in recent polls. He faces Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican who was appointed to her seat; Representative Doug Collins, another Republican; and several other candidates. That race will almost certainly result in a runoff.
In a little over a week, the Supreme Court issued five sets of orders in election cases. In three of them, Democrats prevailed.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote an opinion in only one of the cases, and it was only a paragraph long. It sketched out a distinction that no other justice endorsed. But that distinction can explain every one of the court’s orders.
The distinction pressed by the chief justice was this: Federal courts should not change voting procedures enacted by state legislatures, and they also should not step in when state courts or agencies change those procedures.
The something-for-both-sides approach is broadly similar to Chief Justice Roberts’s recent record, in which he voted with the court’s liberals in cases on gay rights, immigration and abortion; joined the court’s conservatives in major cases on religion; and wrote the majority opinions in cases on subpoenas seeking President Trump’s financial records that rejected his broadest claims but did not require immediate disclosures.
Chief Justice Roberts’s deft judicial work last term meant that he was in the majority in divided decisions at a higher rate than any chief justice since at least 1953. Scholars debated whether that was evidence of principle or pragmatism, noting that the chief justice has tried hard to shield the court from charges that it is a political body.
In the election cases, too, the chief justice’s rationale staked out a middle ground, one that was consistent with conservative ideas about federalism even as the court’s other members seemed to take all-or-nothing approaches. The court’s more liberal members said the right to vote was important enough to justify letting federal judges alter state election rules. And its more conservative ones said the Constitution prohibits all changes to voting rules enacted by state legislatures, even ones supported by state courts or state officials.
“Roberts is desperately trying to preserve the court as above the fray by staying out of the fray — and when I say the court, I mean the federal courts generally,” said Michael C. Dorf, a law professor at Cornell.
A judge in Florida resigned on Thursday as the acting chairman of the Duval County canvassing board — the panel charged with inspecting and tabulating mail-in ballots — amid criticism that he had made political donations to President Trump and displayed his campaign signs at his home.
The resignation of Brent D. Shore, a county judge who is a Republican, was confirmed by the county’s supervisor of elections, Mike Hogan, in an email to The New York Times. Mr. Hogan also serves on the board, which is made up of three members, one of whom must be a county judge, and two alternates.
Judge Shore was one of the alternates and had been filling in as the chairman of the panel, which has come under intense scrutiny in this year of record numbers of mail-in ballots. It was not the first time that the panel was in the glare of publicity. Twenty years ago, in 2000, the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore came down to Florida.
The judge presided as the board’s chairman then, when many Black voters in the county complained that their ballots had not been counted. This time, Judge Shore faced criticism for restricting photography and video recordings of the board’s counting and checking signatures on mail-in ballots. Efforts to reach the judge were not immediately successful.
Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, Florida’s largest city, could play a significant role in which presidential candidate wins this battleground state and its 29 electoral votes. Mr. Trump won the county by fewer than 6,000 votes in 2016.
Judge Shore had made at least six small-dollar contributions to Mr. Trump’s campaign this year totaling less than $200, federal campaign finance records show. This year, he has also contributed nine times to WinRed, a fund-raising platform created by the Republican National Committee, for a total of less than $200.
His resignation was first reported by The Florida Times-Union, which published photos of Trump campaign signs and stickers in the judge’s yard.
Under Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct, judges are barred from contributing to candidates or political organizations.
A spokesman for the Florida Division of Elections did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday but told The Times-Union that “displaying a candidate’s campaign signs” would disqualify someone from serving on a canvassing board.