Biden Campaigns in Georgia, a State Democrats Haven’t Carried Since 1992


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‘I Know We Can Unite,’ Biden Says

On Tuesday, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, held a campaign rally in Georgia and evoked the memory of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Have we passed the point of no return? Has the heart of this nation turned to stone? I don’t think so. I refuse to believe it. I know this country. I know our people. And I know we can unite and heal this nation. Warm Springs is a good place to talk about hope and healing — it’s where Franklin Roosevelt came, quote, “to use the therapeutic waters.” F.D.R. came looking for a cure. But it was the lessons he learned here that he used to lift a nation — humility, empathy, courage, optimism. This place represented a way forward, a way of restoration, of resilience, of healing. I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I’ll work with Democrats and Republicans. I’ll work as hard for those who don’t support me as for those who do. That’s the job of a president, a duty of care for everyone. This place, Warm Springs, is a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed, that as a people and a country, we can overcome this devastating virus, that we can heal a suffering world. And yes we can restore our soul and save our country.

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On Tuesday, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, held a campaign rally in Georgia and evoked the memory of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

One week before Election Day, Joseph R. Biden Jr. stormed into Georgia to deliver his campaign’s closing argument, invoking faith and history to promise a new chapter of national unity as he cast President Trump as a charlatan who has surrendered in the face of crisis.

In his first stop in Georgia, a traditionally red state that is now a battleground, Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, appeared in Warm Springs, long a destination for candidates seeking to embrace the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had hoped the therapeutic waters would help him recover after polio left him paralyzed.

“This place, Warm Springs, is a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed,” Mr. Biden said. “That as a people and a country, we can overcome this devastating virus. That we can heal a suffering world. And yes, we can restore our soul and save our country.”

Roosevelt guided the nation through the Great Depression and World War II, and Mr. Biden described the nation, deeply divided and grappling with crises of public health, economic devastation and racial injustice, as being on wartime footing again, of a different kind.

Mr. Biden outlined the stakes of the election in among his starkest terms to date, likening his opponent to the “charlatans, the con men, the phony populists, who have sought to play to our fears, appeal to our worst appetites, and pick at the oldest scabs we have for their own political gain” throughout the nation’s history.

“This election is about who we are as a nation, what we believe, and maybe most importantly, who we want to be,” Mr. Biden said, seeking to deepen his appeal to independent voters and moderate Republicans who are disillusioned by Mr. Trump. “It’s about our essence. It’s about what makes us Americans.”

In a speech flecked with references to faith, Mr. Biden, a practicing Catholic, invoked a recent encyclical from Pope Francis that, he said, “warns us against this phony populism that appeals to, quote, the ‘basest and most selfish’ instincts.”

“The Bible tells us, there is a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to heal,” Mr. Biden said. “This is that time. God and history have called us to this moment and to this mission.”

That Mr. Biden is traveling to Georgia at all, let alone in the final stretch of the presidential race, suggests that his campaign sees an opportunity to expand its electoral map. Recent polls show Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, who won Georgia by five points in 2016, locked in a virtual tie.

At the same time, two Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, are in tight races for the state’s two Senate seats. Some Democrats are even optimistic about the party’s chances of taking the State House.

Georgia, like several other battlegrounds, is shading more purple as its electorate becomes more diverse, with young voters, suburban women and people of color driving the political change. In 2018, Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, only narrowly lost her bid to become the nation’s first Black female governor.

Coronavirus cases have continued to spike in many states around the country, and Mr. Biden spent a significant part of his speech lashing the Trump administration’s handling of that crisis.

“It’s a capitulation,” Mr. Biden said, referring to remarks from the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who had said, “we’re not going to control the pandemic” in a recent interview. “It’s a waving of a white flag.”

George Hill of the Milwaukee Bucks, left, helped get out the vote in Milwaukee on Saturday.
Credit…Steve Megargee/Associated Press

They’re well-organized, they’re well-funded, and they have a message: Return your absentee ballot, but don’t use the mail.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party and its supporters had been on a mail-voting education crusade since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, advising people how to request, fill out and return absentee ballots.

Now, in the wake of a Supreme Court decision Monday disqualifying absentee ballots that are received by election officials after Election Day, the party is imploring voters to return ballots to their election clerk’s office or use drop boxes, rather than putting them in the mail at this late stage.

“We’re phone banking. We’re text banking. We’re friend banking. We’re drawing chalk murals, driving sound trucks through neighborhoods & flying banners over Milwaukee. We’re running ads in every conceivable medium,” Ben Wikler, the party’s chairman, tweeted after the Supreme Court decision.

The party is in search of missing absentee ballots. Of about 1,778,157 Wisconsin voters who requested absentee ballots as of Tuesday afternoon, 1,451,462 have returned them. That means 326,695 ballots are still out there.

The outstanding ballots could make the difference between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. winning the White House: Though Mr. Biden has maintained a steady polling lead in Wisconsin, Mr. Trump carried the state in 2016 by the razor-thin margin of 22,748 votes.

Wisconsin does not report the party affiliation of voters who request absentee ballots. But in states that do report affiliation, nearly two-third of voters who requested ballots this fall have been Democrats, who polls have found to be more concerned about avoiding polling places amid the pandemic than Republicans are.

Under the Supreme Court ruling, mailed ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on election night or they will not count.

All along, perhaps in anticipation of such a ruling, the party has been advising voters to treat Oct. 20 — not Nov. 3 — as the deadline for voting.

Gladys L. Mitchell-Walthour, a professor of public policy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, believes the effect of the court’s decision may have been reduced by the educational campaigns by Democrats and others, including the Milwaukee Urban League and Alpha Kappa Alpha, the sorority of Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.

“These efforts may lessen the blow of the Supreme Court ruling,” she said.

Even so, Barry C. Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the number of otherwise legitimate votes that will not be counted as a result of the ruling was difficult to predict. “We don’t know what the number will be, but it won’t be zero,” he said.

Wisconsin Democrats have tapped into celebrity connections both to raise money and to promote voter education, including an event hosted last month by the cast of “Parks and Recreation.” The party has also enlisted Lady Gaga, who has been promoting drop-box voting, for a Halloween fund-raiser.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s statement mirrored in some ways President Trump’s efforts to suggest that only ballots counted by Election Day should decide the result, and more generally to push unfounded claims about widespread voter fraud.
Credit…Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Supreme Court decision on Monday effectively barring the counting of mail-in ballots in Wisconsin after Election Day was not a surprise for many Democrats, who had pressed for it but expected to lose in the High Court.

But a concurring opinion by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh set off alarm among civil rights and Democratic Party lawyers, who viewed it as giving public support to President Trump’s arguments that any results counted after Election Day could be riddled with fraudulent votes — an assertion unsupported by the history of elections in the United States.

In a concurring opinion attached to the 5-3 ruling against the deadline extension in Wisconsin, Justice Kavanaugh wrote that Election Day mail-in deadlines are devised “to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election.”

He added, “Those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter.”

Justice Kavanaugh’s statement mirrored in some ways Mr. Trump’s efforts to suggest that only ballots counted by Election Day should decide the result, and more generally to push unfounded claims about widespread voter fraud.

Earlier on Monday, the president tweeted that election officials “must have final total on November 3rd,” alleging without evidence that there are “big problems” with mail-in ballots. The tweet was labeled “misleading” by Twitter.

The concept that counting late arriving ballots could “flip the results” misconstrues the voting process, where official results often are not fully tabulated for days or even weeks following the election.

And, this year, both sides expect that Democrats will vote by mail in greater numbers than Republicans will, and that Republicans will vote in person in greater numbers than Democrats will — leading to a potential scenario in which initial results could appear to favor Mr. Trump, only to move in Mr. Biden’s direction as the counts of mailed ballots are made public.

Because of a surge in mail-in ballots due to the pandemic, and delays at the Postal Service, civil rights groups and Democrats have been pressing for the suspension of certain rules regarding mail-in balloting so states and counties will have more time to count votes.

Republicans have been pressing to keep them in place.

Mr. Kavanaugh’s concurrence was met by a dissent from Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote that “there are no results to ‘flip’ until all valid votes are counted.”

Justice Kagan wrote that nothing could be more suspicious or improper “than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night. To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process.”

The court’s decision in the Wisconsin case came in response to an emergency petition, and therefore lacked the weight of a case that had been fully argued before the court. But it took on added importance for both sides coming ahead of an election many expect to be contested, and because it came on a day that Mr. Trump secured a sixth conservative vote on the court with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine, said Justice Kavanaugh’s reference to “suspicions of impropriety” revealed a “Trumpian mind-set.” More substantively, Mr. Hasen said, his opinion augured a harder climb for civil rights groups and Democrats in election-year cases that go before the Supreme Court.

The opinion by Justice Kavanaugh further worried voting rights groups in Pennsylvania.

Previously, the court had deadlocked 4-4 on a challenge to a similar ballot deadline extension in Pennsylvania, though it was Republicans who were appealing a state Supreme Court decision, rather than a federal court decision.

The deadlocked decision meant that the state Supreme Court decision held, and that ballots postmarked by Election Day could be counted as long as they arrived within three days afterward.

Republicans in the state, however, immediately returned to the federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania, with a nearly identical argument against the ballot extension. Their hope was a return appearance before the Supreme Court with newly installed Justice Barrett, who they hoped would side with the other conservative members and undo the Pennsylvania ballot extension.

THE EARLY VOTE

People lined up to cast their ballots on Sunday morning in Celebration, Fla.
Credit…Gregg Newton/Reuters

With Election Day still a week away, more than 6.4 million people have already voted in Florida — which is more than two-thirds of the votes that were counted there in the entire 2016 election, according to data compiled by the United States Elections Project.

The Florida data collected so far shows that Democrats initially built up a big advantage by mailing in more ballots than Republicans, but Republicans have eaten into their lead by turning out in greater numbers to cast early in-person votes. (The data shows the party of the people who cast ballots, but not whom they voted for.)

There is still much to be determined, Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida who runs the elections project, wrote in a recent analysis.

“There are a lot of Democratic mail ballots still outstanding,” he wrote. “Will Democrats return them by Election Day, as is required for all but military and overseas civilian voters? How much will Republicans make up ground with in-person early voting? Will African-Americans show up to vote in-person early during Sunday’s Souls-to-Polls events, offsetting some Republican in-person gains? What will happen on Election Day?”

Here is what the data showed as of early Tuesday afternoon:

  • 6,427,773 Floridians have voted, which is 67.1 percent of all the votes counted in 2016.

  • Democrats have cast 2,685,500 votes, or 41.8 percent of the votes cast so far.

  • Republicans have cast 2,383,218 votes, or 37.1 percent of the votes cast so far.

  • Unaffiliated voters have cast 1,278,835 votes, or 19.9 percent, of the votes cast, and members of minor parties have cast just over 80,000 votes.

  • When it came to voting by mail, Democrats cast more 615,110 more mail ballots than Republicans, and led the mail-in vote by 46.8 percent to 31 percent.

  • When it came to voting early in person, Republicans cast 312,828 more in-person votes than Democrats did, and led early in-person voting by 46.4 percent to 34 percent.

Ken Wainstein, a federal prosecutor under President George W. Bush, is one of 20 Republican ex-federal prosecutors to sign a letter calling President Trump a threat to the rule of law.
Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

A group of 20 Republican former federal prosecutors endorsed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday, calling President Trump “a threat to the rule of law in our country” who uses the Justice Department “to serve his personal and political interests.”

“He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines,” the signatories said in an open letter. “We do not support his re-election.”

The letter, organized by Ken Wainstein, who served as a top national security adviser to President George W. Bush and as the U.S. attorney in Washington, is the latest example of prominent Republicans supporting Mr. Biden. Others include former governors, Congress members and national security officials.

The letter from the former U.S. attorneys includes signatures from appointees of every Republican administration since President Eisenhower’s.

“The president has clearly conveyed that he expects his Justice Department appointees and prosecutors to serve his personal and political interests in the handling of certain cases — such as the investigations into foreign election interference and the prosecution of his political associates — and has taken action against those who have stood up for the interests of justice,” the letter said.

The prosecutors accused Mr. Trump of “picking political fights with state and local officials in a naked effort to demonize and blame them for the disturbances in our cities,” a posture that they say has made it harder for the federal government to quell the unrest over policing that has broken out across the country in recent months.

The letter argued that Mr. Biden would work to unify the country, rather than stoke division — “the key to meeting the challenges that our country is facing.”

“Joe Biden and his Justice Department will make every effort to unite law enforcement and the nation in the pursuit of justice,” the letter said, “and to build a criminal justice system that provides equal justice under the law.”

While Mr. Trump has the strong backing of police unions and sheriffs, the letter said that it is Mr. Biden who has “devoted his career to supporting law enforcement,” noting that protecting law enforcement also includes preserving the independence of the Justice Department and the fair and impartial application of the law.

With Democrats poised to make gains in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference on Capitol Hill. 
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Pushing further into Republican territory one week before Election Day, Democrats are poised to expand their majority in the House while Republicans, weighed down by President Trump’s low standing in crucial battlegrounds, are scrambling to offset losses.

Bolstered by an enormous cash advantage, a series of critical Republican recruitment failures and a wave of liberal enthusiasm, Democrats have fortified their grip on hard-fought seats won in 2018 that allowed them to seize control of the House. They have trained their firepower and huge campaign coffers on once-solid Republican footholds in affluent suburban districts where voters have become disillusioned with Mr. Trump.

That has left Republicans, who started the cycle hoping to retake the House by clawing back a number of the competitive districts they lost in 2018, straining to meet a bleaker goal: limiting the reach of another Democratic sweep by winning largely rural, white working-class districts where Mr. Trump is still popular.

Depending on how successful those efforts are, Republican strategists, citing a national environment that has turned against them, privately forecast losing anywhere between a handful of seats to as many as 20.

That is starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own prediction just days ago that Republicans would win back control of the House, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared “delusional,” echoing the private assessments of many in the president’s own party.

Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in the House 232 to 197.

“The Democrats’ green wave in 2018 has turned into a green tsunami in 2020, which combined with ongoing struggles with college-educated suburban voters, makes for an extremely challenging environment,” said Corry Bliss, a Republican strategist who helped lead the party’s failed 2018 effort to protect its House majority, referring to the torrent of Democratic campaign cash.

“There are about a dozen 50-50 races across the country, and the most important factor in each is if the president can close strong in the final stretch.”

The terrain for House Republicans was not supposed to be this grim. But Mr. Trump’s stumbling response to the pandemic and inflammatory politics have alienated critical segments of the electorate, particularly suburban voters and women, dragging down congressional Republicans and opening inroads for Democrats in districts that once would have been unfathomable.

Biden-Harris campaign signs at a Democratic canvass kickoff with Stacey Abrams this past week in Las Vegas.
Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Joseph R. Biden Jr. has a steady lead over President Trump in Nevada, a state that has been shading blue in recent elections but that Mr. Trump is hoping to flip, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released on Tuesday.

Mr. Biden, the Democratic nominee, leads Mr. Trump 49 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in Nevada, with 4 percent undecided or declining to state a preference. The poll was taken after the presidential debate last week, one of Mr. Trump’s last opportunities to change the trajectory of the race.

The results are virtually unchanged from another Times/Siena poll in the state conducted this month after Mr. Trump announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, which found Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump 48 percent to 42 percent among likely voters.

With just a week until Election Day and little time for Mr. Trump to make up any ground, the results underscore the challenges he faces in diverse battleground states that once seemed attainable, if not downright winnable, for an incumbent Republican president. Polls have also shown Mr. Trump trailing Mr. Biden in neighboring Arizona, a state that has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1996.

Mr. Trump has continued to fight for Nevada, visiting the state twice since securing the Republican nomination for re-election; on Wednesday, he is planning to hold a rally just across the border in Bullhead City, Ariz. In September, The Cook Political Report shifted its assessment of the Nevada race in Mr. Trump’s direction, from “likely Democrat” to “lean Democrat.”

But Mr. Biden’s polling lead underscores the shifting dynamics of a consummate swing state that has taken on a Democratic tilt. Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016 by just over two percentage points, 10 points less than Barack Obama’s margin of victory in 2008. But in 2018, the state elected Senator Jacky Rosen, a Democrat, who ousted the Republican incumbent Dean Heller; and Gov. Steve Sisolak, the first Democrat to lead the state since 1999.

Mr. Biden is being buoyed by Hispanic voters, young voters and women, and trailing Mr. Trump among white voters without college degrees, the survey showed. Among Hispanic voters, who make up about 20 percent of eligible voters in the state, Mr. Biden held a commanding lead over Mr. Trump, 59 percent to 30 percent.

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Obama Campaigns for Biden, Slams Trumps Handling of Pandemic

Former President Barack Obama delivered remarks in Orlando, Fla., on behalf of Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday, and criticized how the White House has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

Black unemployment hit almost 17 percent during the Great Recession 10 years ago. And through a lot of hard work, Joe Biden and I helped get it down. More than 225,000 people in this country are dead, more than 100,000 small businesses have closed. Half a million jobs are gone in Florida alone. Think about that. And what, what’s his closing argument — that people are too focused on Covid? He said this at one of his rallies. Covid, Covid, Covid he’s complaining. He’s jealous of Covid’s media coverage. His chief of staff, on a news program, says, “We’re not going to control the pandemic.” He just said this. Yes he did. And yes we noticed, you’re not going to control the pandemic. Listen, winter is coming. They’re waving the white flag of surrender. Here’s the truth. The pandemic would have been challenging for any president. But this idea that, somehow, this White House has done anything but completely screw this thing up is nonsense.

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Former President Barack Obama delivered remarks in Orlando, Fla., on behalf of Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday, and criticized how the White House has handled the coronavirus pandemic.CreditCredit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Former President Obama, delivering a withering speech in Orlando on behalf of Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday, hammered President Trump for complaining about how much attention the coronavirus has been getting, joking that his successor “is jealous of Covid’s media coverage.”

Mr. Obama, appearing in his third drive-in rally since he began campaigning in person last week, also targeted Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, who on Monday seemed to question whether Black Americans “want to be successful” despite all he said Mr. Trump had done to help them.

“Who are these folks? What history books do they read?” Mr. Obama said, his voice straining, as he shouted to be heard over honking horns from some of the 273 cars parked in a lot outside of Camping World Stadium.

Mr. Obama, abandoning the restraint he had shown during much of Mr. Tump’s presidency, let loose a free-ranging torrent of ridicule. The president, he said, “is watching TV all day” instead of fixing things, adding that Mr. Trump was “too lazy” to read the daily intelligence briefing, too incompetent to control a coronavirus inside his own house and too “whiny” to sit through an interview with “60 Minutes.”

But Mr. Obama’s focus, mirroring the approach of the Biden-Harris campaign, was on the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic. He singled out Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, for waving “the white flag” after Meadows said, “We are not going to control the pandemic,” on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.

Mr. Trump was apparently watching.

“Now @FoxNews is playing Obama’s no crowd, fake speech for Biden, a man he could barely endorse because he couldn’t believe he won,” Mr. Trump tweeted at the 21-minute mark of Mr. Obama’s speech.

THE STATE OF THE STATES

Supporters of President Trump have their temperature taken as a precaution against the coronavirus before attending a campaign rally at Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday.
Credit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump is planning to hold a re-election rally in Lansing, Mich., this afternoon, as the state grapples with record high numbers of new coronavirus infections and the continuing fallout of a struggling economy.

The state, which Mr. Trump won narrowly in 2016, is key to his re-election hopes, but he has been steadily behind in there in opinion polls. An average of recent Michigan polls put Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s lead at nine percentage points, according to the Upshot’s calculator. Here is how the state is faring on two of the biggest issues of the day, the virus and the economy.

In recent days Michigan has begun averaging more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases a day for the first time since the pandemic struck, and the number of hospitalizations there has been steadily climbing, according to a New York Times database. Over the past seven days the state has added 15,569 new cases, the eighth highest tally in the nation, and 187 more people have died, the ninth highest tally.

The growing number of hospitalizations is concerning state officials. On Oct. 1 there were 678 patients hospitalized in Michigan, a figure that has nearly doubled since: by Oct. 26 there were 1,332, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project. .

The unemployment rate in Michigan stood at 8.5 percent in September, which is above the national average of 7.9 percent, according to data compiled by Moody’s Analytics. And to answer the classic re-election campaign question — are you better off now than you were four years ago? — rate is higher than it was four years ago, when it stood at 5.1 percent.

There are seven days until Election Day. Here are the rest of the daily schedules of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for Tuesday, Oct. 27. All times are Eastern time.

President Trump

2 p.m.: Holds a rally in Lansing, Mich.

5 p.m.: Holds a rally in West Salem, Wis.

8:30 p.m.: Holds a rally in Omaha.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Afternoon: Speaks in Warm Springs, Ga.

Evening: Holds a drive-in rally in Atlanta.

Vice President Pence

12:30 p.m.: Holds a rally in Greensboro, N.C.

3:30 p.m.: Holds a rally in Greenville, S.C.

6:30 p.m. Holds a rally in Wilmington, N.C.

Senator Kamala Harris

Afternoon: Speaks at a voter mobilization event in Reno, Nev.

Evening: Speaks at a voter mobilization event in Las Vegas.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan wrote that President Trump was “sowing division and putting leaders, especially women leaders, at risk.”
Credit…Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan laid the blame for the alleged kidnapping plot against her firmly at President Trump’s feet on Tuesday, accusing him of “sowing division and putting leaders, especially women leaders, at risk” with his divisive rhetoric.

In an op-ed published in The Atlantic, Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat in her first term, wrote that she was “not surprised” by the scheme and vowed not to “stand back and let the president, or anyone else, put my colleagues and fellow Americans in danger without holding him accountable.”

“Every time the president ramps up this violent rhetoric, every time he fires up Twitter to launch another broadside against me, my family and I see a surge of vicious attacks sent our way,” she wrote. “This is no coincidence, and the president knows it. He is sowing division and putting leaders, especially women leaders, at risk. And all because he thinks it will help his re-election.”

The F.B.I. said earlier this month that an anti-government group had plotted to kidnap Ms. Whitmer. More than a dozen men accused of involvement in the plot were charged with a variety of state and federal crimes including terrorism, conspiracy and weapons possession. The F.B.I. has said that another Democratic governor, Ralph Northam of Virginia, was also discussed as a possible target.

Ms. Whitmer wrote that learning about the plot had been “jarring.” and took particular aim at Mr. Trump’s remarks last week at a rally in Michigan. After he mentioned her name, the crowd began chanting “Lock her up,” to which he responded, “Lock them all up.”

In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, Mr. Trump denied that he had attacked Ms. Whitmer even though he has repeatedly insulted her, made derisive comments about her leadership and urged his supporters on Twitter to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

“I haven’t gone after her,” he said. Asked by his interviewer, Lesley Stahl, if he wanted to “lock her up,” he replied: “Of course, I don’t want to lock her up. Why would I lock her up?”

Ms. Whitmer and the Michigan attorney general have tied the plot to comments from President Trump and his refusal at times to condemn white supremacists and violent right-wing groups.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. invoked the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Let us continue to be voices for justice in her name.”
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Shortly after Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court by Republican senators Monday night, Joseph R. Biden Jr. released a statement calling the move “rushed and unprecedented” and imploring Americans to “vote for the legacy of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

Mr. Biden warned, as he has often done in the days since President Trump picked Judge Barrett to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat just weeks before Election Day, that her addition to the nation’s highest court could lead to the Affordable Care Act being struck down.

“If you want to protect your health care, if you want your voice to be heard in Washington, if you want to say no, this abuse of power doesn’t represent you — then turn out and vote,” Mr. Biden wrote, urging people to cast ballots not just for president but for “Members of Congress, and candidates up and down the ticket who actually have a plan for health care.”

“Vote for the legacy of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” he continued. “She was proof that courage, conviction, and moral clarity can change not just the law, but also the world. Let us continue to be voices for justice in her name.”

Mr. Biden ended with a single word, one he repeated six times altogether in the statement: “Vote.”

South Carolina voters cast ballots at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center earlier this month.
Credit…Logan Cyrus/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A federal judge in South Carolina on Tuesday ordered local election officials in the state to stop the practice of analyzing voter signatures on absentee ballots, an inexact science that had been used in some counties to disqualify votes.

The ruling, by Judge Richard Mark Gergel of U.S. District Court in Charleston, found that the practice caused a “high risk of erroneous deprivation of the right to vote by unskilled and untrained election officers attempting to match voter signatures.”

The League of Women Voters of South Carolina had filed a suit complaining that at least nine of the state’s 46 counties had a practice of examining voter signatures with an eye toward whether they matched those on file, even though South Carolina election law does not authorize the practice.

In a similar case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Friday that mail ballots in that state could not be rejected on the basis of perceived mismatches on signatures.

The Pennsylvania court ruling was regarded as a blow to President Trump’s campaign because it eliminated a possible avenue for challenging ballots in a state he won by fewer than 45,000 votes in 2016.

Mr. Trump is ahead of Joseph R. Biden Jr. in public polls in South Carolina, but the Senate race between Lindsey Graham, the Republican incumbent, and his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, is more competitive.

Ad Watch

There are few characteristics more important to President Trump than maintaining an appearance of toughness. The Biden campaign has enlisted the help of Dave Bautista, the 6-foot-6 former professional wrestler turned Hollywood actor, to cut into that narrative in a new ad.

[embedded content]

Mr. Bautista, clad in a tight gray shirt imprinted with the word “Freedom,” opens the ad with a flex and a yell, then he jumps into describing the difference between “being tough and someone who portrays himself as a tough guy,” as the ad toggles between images of him and Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bautista draws a distinction between the president and Joseph R. Biden Jr.: “It’s easy to lie to people; it’s easy to bully people,” he says. “That does not make you a tough guy. It’s easy to tell someone what they want to hear. It’s not easy to tell someone what they need to hear.”

As a map shows coronavirus cases increasing across the country, Mr. Bautista says that what America needs is “someone who’s going to have a plan, so we can get back on track.” Scenes of Mr. Biden greeting voters fill the screen.

The ad ends with Mr. Bautista circling back to the concept of toughness, praising Mr. Biden as a leader who is “stepping back into this fight for Americans.”

The ad makes no verifiable claims.

The ad is running on both television markets in Arizona where Mr. Biden holds a slight lead over Mr. Trump, according to polling averages.

Professional wrestling is a popular form of entertainment among white men, a constituency among whom Mr. Biden consistently trails Mr. Trump, and a testimonial from one of World Wrestling Entertainment’s legends is clearly aimed at that audience. But the ad also comes as the Biden campaign has been avoiding an emphasis on negative messaging, with 40 percent of its ads wholly positive.

The criticism from Mr. Bautista in the beginning, cutting at Mr. Trump’s proud claims of toughness, borrows a bit from previous negative ads from groups like the Lincoln Project that both criticized the president and sought to get under his skin.

E. Jean Carroll left Federal District Court in Manhattan last week after a hearing on her defamation suit against President Trump.
Credit…Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that President Trump can be personally sued for defamation over a statement he made during his presidency denying a decades-old rape allegation, rejecting a maneuver by the Justice Department that would have likely led to the dismissal of the suit.

The ruling by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan allows a lawsuit by the writer E. Jean Carroll to move forward against Mr. Trump, in his capacity as a private citizen, for the time being.

Ms. Carroll has accused Mr. Trump of raping her in a department-store dressing room in the 1990s. Her lawsuit claims he harmed her reputation when he denied the attack last year and called her a liar.

Last month, the Justice Department intervened on Mr. Trump’s behalf in the suit, which had been filed in state court in New York, citing a law designed to protect federal employees against litigation stemming from the performance of their duties.

The Justice Department argued last week that Mr. Trump’s denial was issued in his official capacity as president because it “addressed matters relating to his fitness for office as part of an official White House response to press inquiries.” And it sought to move Ms. Carroll’s suit to federal court and to substitute the United States for Mr. Trump as the defendant, which would likely lead to the charges being dismissed.

But Judge Kaplan ruled that Mr. Trump was not acting in his official capacity when he denied the accusation, writing, “His comments concerned an alleged sexual assault that took place several decades before he took office, and the allegations have no relationship to the official business of the United States.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has urged the White House not to strike a deal on coronavirus relief before the election.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

What little hope Americans had remaining that they would get a needed coronavirus relief package before the election was dashed late Monday when Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, adjourned the Senate for two weeks after its vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Already stalled for three months, prospects for a deal had largely faded, with Democrats, Senate Republicans and President Trump’s negotiators unable to come together on a deal to help keep struggling Americans afloat.

The first round of stimulus, which included beefed-up unemployment benefits, support to small businesses and $1,200 checks to individuals, was considered largely successful in staving off a worse economic calamity in the spring, with tens of millions of Americans relying on it to pay their bills, avoid evictions and keep their businesses running.

In a poll conducted this month by The New York Times and Siena College, a majority of likely voters said they supported a new $2 trillion stimulus package, while economists and the chair of the Federal Reserve have said an infusion of federal money would fuel an economic recovery now on shaky ground.

Mr. Trump abruptly pulled the plug on the talks early this month, only to reverse course in recent weeks. Without offering specifics, Mr. Trump said he had instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “go big or go home.”

That statement put him at odds with Mr. McConnell, who cautioned the president against striking a deal with House Democrats.

Senate Republicans did not want to spend more than $500 billion.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Mr. Mnuchin for nearly an hour on Monday but failed to reach a deal, her deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, wrote on Twitter.

While both the House and Senate can be called back for a vote with 24 hours notice, that appeared unlikely with Election Day less than a week away.

The Senate will reconvene on Nov. 9 and could take up negotiations again.

But by then, the backdrop could be vastly different, depending on what happens on Election Day.

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