Trump fights for votes in Arizona: US Election news

President battles for support in southwest state he needs to win but where polls show challenger Joe Biden has a lead

US President Donald Trump campaigned at rallies with large crowds in Arizona, a key swing state in the battle for the White House [Carlos Barria/Reuters]
  • President Donald Trump told campaign staff on Monday people are tired of hearing from infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci and ‘all these idiots’ about the coronavirus.
  • The Supreme Court will hear an appeal from the Trump administration on a lower court ruling the president did not have authority to divert military funds for US-Mexico wall.
  • Trump campaigned in Arizona, a key swing state, while Joe Biden had an advertisement taping scheduled before Thursday’s upcoming debate.
  • Early voting began in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, and North Dakota.
  • More than 28.7 million US voters have already cast ballots with 15 days until the November 3 election.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Joseph Stepansky and William Roberts.

Monday, October 19:

19:45 ET – Trump touts tough immigration polices, border wall in Arizona

President Donald Trump campaigned at a rally with supporters in Tucson, Arizona, near the US border with Mexico and claimed his restrictive immigration policies and border wall have kept out criminals.

“We are protecting our borders. You know the wall is almost finished. And by the way, the biggest beneficiary maybe, happens to be – Arizona,” Trump said, acknowledging it is being paid for by the US government despite his prior claims Mexico would pay. “Compliments of the federal government,” he said.

“They want to dismantle your police. Dissolve your borders,” Trump warned about his Democratic rival Joe Biden. “If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.”

“Biden is pledging mass amnesty and free federal health care for illegal aliens,” Trump said distorting Biden’s proposals. Biden is proposing undocumented immigrants living in the US be allowed to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, “like everyone else”.

As of October 19, the US had put in place 371 miles of steel and concrete fencing, what the president calls the wall, much of it replacing old barriers, according to an official update.

19:20 ET – US Supreme Court rejects Republican bid to limit mail-in voting in Pennsylvania

The US Supreme Court allowed an extension of the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots in Pennsylvania for the November 3 election, declining a Republican request to block a lower court’s ruling that gave voters more time, the Reuters news service reported.

The justices, divided 4-4, left in place a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in favor of Democrats who had extended the deadline for state election officials to receive mail-in ballots postmarked by the evening of Election Day until three days afterward.

The brief court order noted that four of the court’s five conservative justices would have granted the request. There are currently only eight justices on the usually nine-member court because of the death last month of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which left the court with a 5-3 conservative majority.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in denying the request, with five votes needed for it to be granted.

19:00 ET – Trump says his outlook in Arizona not tied to Republican senator who is behind in polls

President Trump said his prospects in Arizona are good despite a poor campaign by Republican US Senator Martha McSally who trails her Democratic challenger by 11 percentage points in the latest poll by CBS News/YouGov.

“No, I don’t think it has anything to do, I think she’s doing fine … It’s a separate. I’ve always viewed that as being highly overrated … I think we’re very separated. We support each other voting, but i’ve never been a believer that we’re tied together,” Trump told reporters traveling with him in Phoenix.

“I’m doing well. I’m an individual, I think I’m doing very well. As an individual. And I probably help some. I don’t think I hurt anybody. But I don’t view them as being tied together, I never did,” Trump said.

“I could do fantastically well in this state and we could have a Senate candidate that does unbelievably badly,” he said.

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport while campaigning in Arizona on Monday, October 19, 2020 [Alex Brandon/AP Photo]

18:30 ET – Ex-Republican legislator charged with misdemeanor for pushing a poll worker in North Carolina

A former North Carolina Republican lawmaker who attempted to gain entry to  an early voting site on behalf of his party was charged Friday with a Class 3 misdemeanor for allegedly assaulting a poll worker, The Associated Press reported.

Gary Pendleton, a 73-year-old former North Carolina state House legislator confirmed he had pushed an early voting official who he says blocked his pathway to enter the polling site around 7:30 am.

At the direction of county Republican officials, Pendleton said he sought to gain access to the site an hour before the polls opened at 8 am to make sure no fraudulent voting activities were taking place. He said he was met by a security guard who refused him entrance.

When he asked for a supervisor to let him in, the supervisor instructed him that he would have to wait outside. Frustrated with the experience, Pendleton tried to re-enter about 20 minutes later, when he was again refused entry by the same elections official.

“He was on one side, and I said, ‘Well, I’ll just go around you,’” Pendleton recounted. “So I went around, he jumped over in front of me about 3 feet (away) mouth to mouth. I pushed him back because I don’t want to get COVID-19.”

Early voters lined up to cast their ballots inside the South Regional Library polling location in Durham, North Carolina on October 15, 2020. [Gerry Broome/AP Photo]

18:00 ET – Kamala Harris in Florida says ‘people are suffering’

In a campaign appearance in Jacksonville, Florida, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris drew a contrast between her running mate Joe Biden and President Trump on economic issues, jobs and health care.

“On the one hand you have Joe Biden who is dedicated to building on the success that he and President Barack Obama created with the Affordable Care Act which brought healthcare to over 20 million people,” Harris said.

“And Florida, you know that right now, people are hurting. People are suffering. In Florida right now, one in eight Floridians is describing members of their household as being hungry. We are in the midst of a hunger crisis in America,” Harris said.

“In Florida right now, one in five Floridians is describing themselves being unable to pay their rent in September,” she said.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, campaigning in Florida on Monday, October 19, 2020, drew a sharp contrast between Joe Biden’s economic policies and President Trump’s [John Raoux/AP Photo]

17:30 ET – Trump camp demands revision of topics for 2nd debate

President Donald Trump’s campaign has written a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates quarreling with the list of topics selected by moderator, NBC television host Kristen Welker.

The October 22 debate was supposed to focus on foreign policy, the Trump campaign letter said. But Welker’s announced topics are: Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security and Leadership.

“We had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate,” the Trump campaign letter said.

“We urge you to rethink and reissue a set of topics for the October 22 debate, with an emphasis on foreign policy,” the letter said.

17:00 ET – Biden slams Trump’s comments on Fauci

Biden, in a statement on Monday, slammed Trump’s earlier comments to campaign staffers in which he said Dr Anthony Fauci was ‘a disaster’ and people were tired of hearing from him and ‘all these idiots’ about the coronavirus.

“Waving a white flag and saying “it is what it is” is unacceptable when thousands of American lives are being taken each week, when businesses are closing and schools remain shuttered,” Biden said in a statement.

“Mr President, you’re right about one thing: the American people are tired. They’re tired of your lies about this virus,” he said. “They’re tired of watching more Americans die and more people lose their jobs because you refuse to take this pandemic seriously.”

16:45 ET – Trump, in calling for re-openings, cites Barron’s coronavirus infection

Trump, during a rally in Prescott, Arizona, referenced his son Barron’s coronavirus infection in calling for schools to re-open, portraying his son’s contraction of the disease as minor.

“They got to open up the states, and let the kids go back to school…Baron Trump had it. All these young guys. Barron Trump had it. He’s 14 and he’s very tall,” Trump said.

“The doctor said…Barron has tested positive. I said oh, how’s he going to do? ‘Very good sir’. Like 14 minutes later, how’s Barron? How’s he doing doc? How’s my boy doing? ‘Sir, he’s cured,'” he said. “It took about 12 seconds.”

Trump also continued his attacks on NBC News reporter Kristen Welker, calling her a “radical Democrat”.

16:15 ET – Trump calls Fauci a ‘nice guy’

Trump softened his attack on Dr Anthony Fauci after earlier in the day called the top infectious disease expert “a disaster”.

“No, I think really Dr Fauci is a very nice man. But we let him do what he wants to do. He gets a lot of television. He loves being on television. We let him do it,” Trump told reporters.

“Sometimes he says things are a little bit off and they get built up, unfortunately. But he’s a nice guy. I like him, but he’s called a lot of bad calls. He said, don’t wear a mask. And he said, don’t ban China. They were bad calls. He admits that. And I don’t hold that against him. If I did, I wouldn’t have him. No, I think he’s a nice guy,” Trump said.

16:00 ET – New poll shows Trump cutting into Biden’s lead

Trump appeared to cut into Democratic rival Joe Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania, one of the election’s most important battlegrounds, but Biden maintained a solid lead in Wisconsin, according to new Reuters/Ipsos opinion polls.

The poll showed 49 percent support for Biden in Pennsylvania and 45 percent support for Trump. That’s down from 51 percent support from Biden and 44 percent support for Trump in last week’s poll.

In Wisconsin, Biden had 51 percent support, compared to Trump’s 43 percent support.

15:30 ET – Trump says he will test for COVID-19 before next presidential debate

Trump said on Monday he would test for the coronavirus before the next presidential debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden this week.

“Sure I would have no problem with that,” Trump told reporters when he was asked whether he would be tested before Thursday’s debate in Nashville.

Trump announced on October 2 that he had tested positive for COVID-19, and has declined to say when he last tested negative before the previous debate held on September 29.

President Donald Trump talks to reporters at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport [Alex Brandon/The Associated Press]

15:00 ET – Trump says talking to the media is ‘debate prep’

Trump told reporters on Monday that talking to the media is “debate prep”.

“I’m doing this,” Trump said after arriving in Phoenix, Arizona, when asked how he was preparing for the upcoming debate on Thursday.

“I call this debate prep,” he added.

Thursday’s debate will take place in Nashville, Tennessee and will be moderated by NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker. The topics are Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security and Leadership.

14:30 ET – No serious problems reported in Florida early voting

Residents of Florida began early voting in much of the state Monday with no serious problems immediately reported.

The most populous counties reported wait times of 15 minutes or less at most of their early voting sites Monday afternoon, although a few sites reported waits of up to 90 minutes, according to the Associated Press.

However, one Palm Beach County site reported a three-hour wait.

With its 29 electoral votes, Florida is crucial to both candidates but especially so for Trump, who moved his official residence to his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago from New York last year.

Franklin Castellon, 76, shields himself from the rain as he walks to an early voting site in Miami, Florida [Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press]

14:00 ET – American Voter: Sarita McCoy Gregory

Al Jazeera’s American Voter series asks the same key questions about the presidential election to voters across the United States.

“I’m a multi-issue voter. And the two issues that I’d like to highlight are reforming the justice system in this country, and also healthcare. So those are my two most important issues,” Virginia College professor Sarita McCoy Gregory, who has already voted for Biden, told Al Jazeera.

Read more here.

13:30 ET – Melania Trump set to make first public appearance since contracting coronavirus

Melania Trump plans to make her first public appearance since recovering from the coronavirus disease, joining Trump at a Pennsylvania campaign rally on Tuesday

It was not immediately clear if the first lady also planned to address Trump supporters in Erie.

The event will be the first campaign trail appearance for Mrs. Trump since she spoke briefly at a June 2019 event in Orlando, Florida, where the president launched his reelection effort.

She addressed the Republican National Convention in August from the White House.

Mealania Trump recently announced that she has recovered from a bout with COVID-19 that included headaches, body aches and fatigue. She also revealed that the couple’s 14-year-old son, Barron, had contracted the virus, never had symptoms and has since tested negative.

13:00 ET – Biden has no scheduled public events before debate

Biden is taping a television interview on Monday, the only thing on his light, pre-debate public schedule this week.

The Democratic nominee’s motorcade rolled shortly after noon from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to the Queen, a downtown theater where his campaign has built a makeshift studio and stage for its candidate to hold virtual events, as well as some speeches and press conferences in person.

Biden was taping an interview with “60 Minutes,” which was scheduled to air on CBS next weekend.

Biden has nothing else on his public schedule this week except Thursday night’s debate in Nashville, Tennessee. His campaign says he plans to use the bulk of the remaining time preparing for the second and final time he is scheduled to face off with President Donald Trump before Election Day on November 3.

A timeline of Joe Biden's career

12:30 ET – 28.7 million Americans have cast their ballots

With 15 days until election day. Over 28.7 million US voters have cast their ballot, according to the University of Florida;s US Elections Project.

The number equals 20.7 percent of all votes counted in the 2016 presidential contest.

As of Sunday, the tracker noted that about 5.9 million citizens had cast their ballots in 2016 at a comparable point in the race.

12:00 ET – Trump tells campaign staffers people are tired of hearing from Fauci, ‘and all these idiots’ about coronavirus

Trump has told his campaign staffers that people are tired of hearing from top infectious disease expert, and member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, Dr Anthony Fauci “and all these idiots” about the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press.

Speaking Monday during a phone call with campaign staffers, Trump also  called Fauci a “disaster” but said he’d create bigger issues for himself if he fired the doctor, the news agency reported.

In an interview that aired Sunday on the CBS 60 Minutes programme, Fauci said he was “absolutely not” surprised that Trump contracted the coronavirus, and called a White House Supreme Court nomination a “superspreader event”.

Fauci also noted that the administration has been limiting his media appearance.

Anthony FauciTrump called Fauci a ‘disaster’ during a call with campaign staffers on Monday [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]

11:30 ET – Biden again tests negative for coronavirus

Biden has again tested negative for coronavirus, according to his campaign. The former vice president has been regularly tested during the campaign.

Trump had tested positive for coronavirus on October 2, just days after the candidates faced on in a debate. His doctors have since said he is no longer contagious.

Last week, Biden’s campaign announced that a passenger who had flown with Biden on at least two occasions had tested positive for coronavirus.

That person had been at least 50 feet from Biden and the former vice president had worn a mask during the flight, according to the campaign, who said the candidate’s level exposure did not warrant quarantine.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden turns from the podium after speaking during a campaign event at Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina on Sunday [Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press]

11:00 ET – More US voters say election outcome matters than in 2016: Poll

A new Gallup poll has found that 77 percent of registered voters believe the November 3 election matters more than any other previous election, an increase of six percentage point.

That number is the highest since 1996, when Gallup began documenting the trend.

Meanwhile, 2 percent of voters say the election matters less than in the past and 21 percent think it matters about the same.

10:30 ET – Supreme Court to review legality of Trump’s ‘remain in Mexico’ asylum policy

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide the legality of one of Trump’s hardline immigration policies that has forced tens of thousands of migrants along the southern border to wait in Mexico, rather than entering the US, while their asylum claims are processed.

The justices will hear a Trump administration appeal of a 2019 lower court ruling that found that the policy likely violated federal immigration law. The “remain in Mexico” policy remains in effect because the Supreme Court in March put the lower court’s decision to block it on hold while the legal battle continues.

The Republican president has said the policy, which took effect in January 2019, has reduced the flow of migrants from Central America into the US. Restricting both illegal and legal immigration has been a central theme of Trump’s presidency. He has sought to reduce asylum claims through a series of policy and rule changes.

10:00 ET – Early voting begins in key swing state of Florida

Florida begins early in-person voting in much of the state on Monday as the Trump campaign tries to cut into an early advantage Democrats have posted in mail-in votes in the key swing state.

With its 29 electoral votes, Florida is crucial to both candidates but considered all-but essential to Trump, who moved his official residence to his Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, from New York last year. A Florida loss would make it nearly impossible for Trump to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to retain the White House over Biden.

About 2.5 million mail-in ballots have already been cast, with Democrats returning 1.2 million and Republicans about 755,000 as of Sunday, according to The Associated Press news agency. Non-affiliated voters and third-party members make up the rest. The number of mail-in votes is already approaching the 2.7 million cast in 2016. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the state by about 113,000 votes.

09:30 ET – Supreme Court to hear Trump appeal of ruling against border wall funds

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by the Trump administration of a previous ruling stating the president overstepped his constitutional powers by diverting military funds to pay for his promised wall along the US-Mexico border.

At issue is the legality of the president’s decision, after Congress refused to appropriate money he sought for the wall, to shift other funds already provided by legislators for other purposes.

Trump’s administration appealed a lower court’s June 26 decision that it lacked the authority to shift the military funds towards the border project because the so-called Appropriations Clause of the US Constitution exclusively grants the power of the purse to Congress.

09:00 ET – In campaign rally, Trump says Biden will ‘listen to scientists’

In a Sunday night campaign rally in Nevada, Trump told supporters Biden will “listen to scientists” if elected – a comment apparently meant to disparage the Democratic challenger.

Trump made the comments while warning of more future lockdowns if Biden is elected. Despite a recent spike in hospitalisations and cases in some states, in what public health experts have called a third wave of the virus, the president has continually emphasised the need to move faster with reopenings to support the economy.

In stark contrast, Biden has repeatedly prioritised public health and said he would support future lockdowns if health advisers said they were warranted.

“He’ll listen to the scientists,” Trump told supporters in a mocking tone. “If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression instead – we’re like a rocket ship. Take a look at the numbers.”

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Carson City, Nevada on Sunday [Lance Iversen/The Associated Press]


Read all the updates from Friday, (October 13) here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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