Biden Questions Idea of Debating Trump Next Week

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Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, said on Tuesday night that there should not be a debate if President Trump “still has Covid,” just hours after Mr. Trump said he intended to participate in next week’s presidential debate in Miami.

Asked by reporters on Tuesday night whether he would feel safe debating Mr. Trump, who was hospitalized last week with the coronavirus, Mr. Biden responded: “I think if he still has Covid, we shouldn’t have a debate.”

But Mr. Biden said his decision would be guided by the Cleveland Clinic and doctors.

“I think we were gonna have to follow very strict guidelines,” he said. “Too many people have been infected. It’s a very serious problem, so I will be guided by the guidelines of the Cleveland Clinic and what the docs say is the right thing to do.”

Mr. Biden’s remarks introduced fresh uncertainty into the debate calendar and whether either of the two remaining presidential debates would go forward as scheduled, after Mr. Trump revealed last week that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was later hospitalized.

People with mild to moderate cases of the illness are likely to “remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset,” according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that period could be doubled in cases of more serious illness.

Mr. Biden, who shared a debate stage with the president a week ago, tested negative for the coronavirus again on Tuesday, his campaign said.

Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he planned to attend the next presidential debate, even as he remains infectious and doctors have warned that the course of his illness is unpredictable.

Mr. Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, will face off against Vice President Mike Pence in the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Already, the two candidates will be 12 feet apart, an increase from the seven feet that was originally proposed; they are also expected to be separated by plexiglass, though aides to Mr. Pence said on Tuesday that they thought the barriers were unnecessary.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

After the Commission on Presidential Debates announced plans for Senator Kamala Harris of California and Vice President Mike Pence to debate Wednesday while sitting more than a dozen feet apart and behind plexiglass dividers to prevent any viral transmission, aides to Mr. Pence said that they felt the barriers were unnecessary.

“We don’t think it’s needed,” said Marc Short, Mr. Pence’s chief of staff. “There’s no science to support it. The tables are 12 feet apart and each participant is tested. It’s important for the American people that the debate go forward, and if she’s more comfortable with plexiglass then that’s fine.”

The Biden campaign was on board with the precautions. “Senator Harris will be at the debate, respecting the protections that the Cleveland Clinic has put in place to promote safety for all concerned,” said Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for Ms. Harris. “If the Trump administration’s war on masks has now become a war on safety shields, that tells you everything you need to know about why their Covid response is a failure.”

The back and forth came as much of official Washington has been upended by a coronavirus outbreak that sent President Trump to the hospital, infected several senators and sent top military leaders into quarantine. The spread through officialdom has injected new uncertainty into the question of whether the debates can be held safely.

Late Tuesday, Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, said in an interview that after negotiations, Mr. Pence’s staff had agreed to accept the placement of the plexiglass dividers, which were installed on the Utah debate stage earlier in the day.

The vice-presidential candidates will be kept 12 feet, three inches apart at the sole vice-presidential debate, organizers said. The gap is actually five inches shorter than the distance that separated Mr. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. last Tuesday in Cleveland.

The commission also pledged to eject any audience members who decline to wear a face mask, an obvious response to last week’s event in Cleveland, where the president’s family and aides removed their masks in the debate hall in defiance of rules set by the host, the Cleveland Clinic.

“If anyone does not wear a mask, they will be escorted out,” the debate commission said, although organizers did not specify exactly how that policy might be enforced.

Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who moderated the first presiential debate, said last week that Mr. Trump was not tested by the Cleveland Clinic before taking the stage, with organizers relying on an “honor system” by which campaigns were expected to report on their own candidate’s health.

For the vice-presidential debate, the commission said that Ms. Harris and Mr. Pence “will be Covid tested prior to the debate,” but which entity would oversee that testing remained unclear.

Unlike at the presidential debate, the moderator — Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief of USA Today — will not announce her question topics ahead of time. Ms. Page is also expected to be seated 12 feet, 3 inches from the two candidates.

The vice-presidential debate, to be held at Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah, begins on Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern and will last for 90 minutes, divided into nine segments of 10 minutes apiece.

The debate commission said there would be no handshake “or physical greeting” between Ms. Harris and Mr. Pence, and no opening or closing statements.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

The New York Times editorial board endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, on Tuesday night for president, an office that polling suggests is within the grasp of the former vice president after his two previous bids for the White House were unsuccessful.

Mr. Biden, the newspaper’s endorsement said, was uniquely qualified to heal a nation that has been fractured by the coronavirus pandemic, an economic crisis and systemic racism.

“In the midst of unrelenting chaos, Mr. Biden is offering an anxious, exhausted nation something beyond policy or ideology,” the editorial board wrote. “His campaign is rooted in steadiness, experience, compassion and decency.”

Without once mentioning President Trump in the more than 1,400-word endorsement, The Times drew a series of contrast between Mr. Biden and the incumbent whom he is seeking to unseat.

“Mr. Biden is not an ideological purist or a bomb-thrower,” the endorsement said. “Some will see this as a shortcoming or hopelessly naïve.”

The Times which has more than 6.5 million paid subscribers, wrote that Mr. Biden “knows how the levers of power work on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue” from his eight years as former President Barack Obama’s vice president and from his 36 years in the Senate.

The newspaper’s editorial board is separate from the news-gathering operation of The Times. It wrote that Mr. Biden would restore public confidence in democratic institutions and repair the damage to the nation’s international alliances that has been caused by an “America First” approach, a reference to Mr. Trump’s isolationist foreign policy slogan.

As vice president, the editorial board wrote, Mr. Biden had distinguished himself “overseeing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, passed in response to the Great Recession.” The endorsement also cited Mr. Biden’s role in helping to win the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama’s signature accomplishment that expanded health insurance coverage and ensured protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

The seal of approval of The Times’ editorial board hasn’t always been a barometer of success. Earlier this year, in the Democratic nominating contest for the presidency, the newspaper’s editorial board endorsed Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts over Mr. Biden. Both eventually backed Mr. Biden.

“His message of unity and pragmatism resonated with Democratic voters, who turned out in large numbers to elevate him above a sprawling primary field,” the editorial board wrote.

Credit…Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press

A grand jury in St. Louis returned an indictment on Tuesday against a white couple who brandished guns at Black protesters as they marched past their home in June in a menacing display caught on video that earned them a spotlight at the Republican National Convention and the admiration of President Trump.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey were charged with unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering, both felonies, the McCloskeys’ lawyer, Joel J. Schwartz, said in an interview.

The indictment records in the case were sealed and a spokeswoman for the circuit attorney in St. Louis, Kimberly M. Gardner, said that she could not comment on the case.

The decision to move forward with the prosecution came a few hours after the couple made a brief appearance in St. Louis Circuit Court, where a judge postponed a hearing in the case until next week.

No charges have been filed against any of the protesters, which Mr. McCloskey complained about to members of the news media after leaving the courthouse.

“To everybody out there that’s thinking about voting for Joe Biden, the Harris-Biden administration, this is a sign of the times of things to come, the government that views its task as protecting criminals from honest citizens, rather than protecting citizens from honest criminals,” Mr. McCloskey said.

He then corrected himself: “protecting honest citizens from criminals.”

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Trump has called the prosecution of the couple, who did a virtual campaign event for him, “a disgrace.” The Republican governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, has said he would most likely pardon them.

The couple’s confrontation with protesters came as Mr. Trump, playing on racist fears, baselessly warned that the unrest in American cities following the police killing of George Floyd would spread to the suburbs. The McCloskeys were given a prime-time speaking slot on the first night of the Republican convention.

On June 28, protesters marched past the McCloskeys’ home as they made their way to the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson of St. Louis, a Democrat, whom they demanded to resign for releasing the names of city residents who supported defunding the police.

As demonstrators passed the house, Mr. McCloskey, 63, held a semiautomatic rifle and Ms. McCloskey, 61, held a semiautomatic handgun, according to a criminal complaint and probable cause statement from the prosecutor’s office.

Both pointed their weapons at the protesters, the prosecutor’s office said. Ms. McCloskey’s finger was “on the trigger” and she acted with an “excited demeanor,” the office noted.

Mr. McCloskey claimed on Tuesday that every one of the protesters were criminals and said they should have been charged with trespassing and breaking a gate on his property.

“The government chooses to persecute us for doing no more than exercising our right to defend ourselves, our home, our property and our family,” he said. “We didn’t fire a shot.”

Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered a forceful call for national unity in a speech Tuesday in Pennsylvania, where he cast the election as a contest of extraordinary stakes, defined by seismic issues of life-or-death consequence that, he argued, should transcend traditional partisan disagreements.

In a 22-minute speech in Gettysburg, where a Civil War battlefield serves as a symbol of a country divided against itself, Mr. Biden reiterated the notion that the election was “a battle for a soul of the nation,” reprising a central theme of his candidacy four weeks before Election Day.

“Today once again we are a house divided,” Mr. Biden said, recalling the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War some 150 years ago. “But that, my friends, can no longer be. We are facing too many crises, we have too much work to do, we have too bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.”

It was a speech of soaring rhetoric, one that repeatedly harkened back to Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg address, contemplated former President Lyndon B. Johnson and grappled with the current reckoning over racial justice in America.

“Today we are engaged once again in a battle for the soul of the nation,” he declared, vowing to work with Republicans and Democrats alike if he is elected president.

“This must end,” he said. “We need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country.”

Though it is perhaps too soon for the address to amount to a closing argument, his remarks suggest that he intends to end his bid for the White House as he began it: by casting the election as a national emergency whose outcome will determine the trajectory of the country for years to come.

Seizing on the latest Trump-fueled chaos — this time the president’s cavalier attitude toward the coronavirus even despite being sickened by it himself — Mr. Biden built on his longstanding arguments about the need for calm and to further make the case for himself as a unifying figure who transcends partisan battle lines.

“You don’t have to agree with me on everything, or even on most things,” Mr. Biden said, to see that what “we’re experiencing today is neither good nor normal.”

Earlier in the day, at the end of a virtual fund-raising event, Mr. Biden said he had “worked and worked and worked on” the speech and indicated it would be “about how the soul of America and racial equality and what significant trouble we’re in right now.”

“Some people may think it’s a little dramatic, but I think it’s appropriate,” he said. “We have to unite this nation and I’ve decided to do it from Gettysburg. I’ve worked on this speech very, very, very hard.”

His trip to Gettysburg comes as he seeks to press his advantage over Mr. Trump, who trails in polls and remains confined to the White House.

Mr. Biden, who has heeded the advice of experts and been cautious about holding in-person events in recent months, prompting mockery from Mr. Trump, is now the candidate who is out on the campaign trail, albeit still with small, socially distanced events that strictly adhere to public health guidelines.

His Pennsylvania trip follows a visit to Florida on Monday and precedes a planned trip on Thursday to Arizona. Mr. Biden is maintaining leads or pulling away from Mr. Trump in polls in all three states.

Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he planned to attend the presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15, even as he remains infectious and doctors have warned that the course of his illness is unpredictable. In a tweet on Monday, he also indicated plans to return to the campaign trail soon.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump shared the debate stage in Cleveland a week ago, and Mr. Biden’s campaign said he had tested negative for the coronavirus twice on Friday and again on Sunday. His campaign said that Mr. Biden tested negative again on Tuesday.

Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

President Trump’s illness with Covid-19 brought the campaign into sharper focus on Tuesday, as he continued playing down the dangers of a pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans while Joseph R. Biden Jr. and fellow Democrats cast him as dangerously irresponsible in handling the threat to both himself and the nation.

Mr. Trump’s decision to remove his mask as the cameras rolled Monday evening, after he left the hospital and returned to the White House while still infectious, was widely condemned by public health experts and on several television news programs.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump went on Twitter to misleadingly compare the dangers of the coronavirus to the flu, further undercutting the work of public health authorities urging people to take precautions. Twitter hid the president’s post behind a warning that it “violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”

Mr. Biden, whose campaign had initially taken a cautious tone and pulled down negative ads amid the news that the president had received a life-threatening diagnosis, began to show a greater willingness to draw sharp distinctions with Mr. Trump after he declared that he was feeling better.

The Biden campaign quickly seized on Mr. Trump’s decision to remove his mask, tweeting a video contrasting the moment with footage of Mr. Biden donning one. “Masks matter,” the text read. “They save lives.”

And at a televised town hall in Florida on Monday evening, Mr. Biden suggested that those who, like the president, failed to obey health guidelines were “responsible for what happens to them.”

“What is this macho thing, ‘I’m not going to wear a mask?’” Mr. Biden asked. “What’s the deal, here? Big deal! Does it hurt you? Be patriotic, for God’s sake.”

Other prominent Democrats faulted the president for putting those around him at risk, including by taking a drive outside the hospital on Sunday evening with Secret Service agents in his S.U.V.

The former first lady, Michelle Obama, seemed to allude to that in a tweet on Tuesday. “My heart goes out to everyone touched by this virus, from those at the White House, especially the Secret Service and residence staff whose service ought never be taken for granted, to all those names and stories most of us will unfortunately never know,” she wrote.

Mr. Trump sought to change the subject from the virus on Tuesday morning with a pair of tweets mischaracterizing Mr. Biden’s positions, including one that falsely claimed that Mr. Biden had moved to the left of Senator Elizabeth Warren on abortion rights and that he wanted to expand the Supreme Court. (On Monday, Mr. Biden had reiterated his openness to passing legislation to codify Roe v. Wade into law if the Supreme Court overturned the ruling, as other Democrats have. Mr. Biden has expressed opposition to expanding the court in the past, and more recently has declined to answer questions on the issue.)

Mr. Trump also said Tuesday that he planned to take part in next Thursday’s debate in Miami, though it is unclear whether health experts will sign off on a debate, or whether Mr. Biden will agree to share a stage with him, given that the president might still be contagious then.

“I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!” the president tweeted.

The White House has not been clear about when the president last tested negative for the virus before he tested positive, or when he first fell ill, making it difficult to accurately gauge how long he will remain infectious.

Credit…Emily Berl for The New York Times

The former first lady Michelle Obama, one of the Democratic Party’s most respected figures, delivered what the Biden campaign called her “closing argument” for Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s candidacy on Tuesday, speaking in deeply personal terms to Americans disillusioned by politics about the need to vote.

In a 24-minute video, Mrs. Obama appealed to parents and young people, white working-class Americans and people of color, lashing President Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus — “he continues to gaslight the American people by acting like this pandemic is not a real threat,” she said — and warning that Mr. Trump’s habit of stoking division could be an effective political tool. She urged voting as the best remedy.

“We can expect that this election will be won by the slimmest of margins, just like it was four years ago,” Mrs. Obama said. “A handful of votes per precinct in Pennsylvania, or Arizona, or Wisconsin, or Florida, or anywhere else will make all the difference.”

As she released the video on her own social media platforms, Mrs. Obama acknowledged Mr. Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis. She alluded to his decision to return to the White House while still receiving treatment for the virus, and the choice to take a drive outside of the hospital on Sunday, a move that some medical experts saw as dangerous for the Secret Service agents around the president.

“My heart goes out to everyone touched by this virus, from those at the White House, especially the Secret Service and residence staff whose service ought never be taken for granted, to all those names and stories most of us will unfortunately never know,” she wrote on Twitter.

In the video, Mrs. Obama appeared to speak implicitly to white voters who are struggling economically and are put off by terms like white privilege.

“It is frustrating to hear some folks say that you’ve been the beneficiary of privilege, that the color of your skin gives you a head start,” she said. “But right now, the president and his allies are trying to tap into that frustration and distract from his breathtaking failures by giving folks someone to blame other than them. They’re stoking fears about Black and brown Americans.”

That approach, she said, is “morally wrong, and yes, it is racist. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work.”

“As a Black woman who has — like the overwhelming majority of people of color in this nation — done everything in my power to live a life of dignity, and service, and honesty, the knowledge that any of my fellow Americans is more afraid of me than the chaos we are living through right now, well, that hurts,” Mrs. Obama said.“Imagine how it feels to wake up every day and do your very best to uphold the values that this country claims to holds dear — truth, honor, decency — only to have those efforts met by scorn, not just by your fellow citizens, but by a sitting president.”

Mrs. Obama said on Twitter that she hesitated to release her message in the wake of Mr. Trump’s contracting the virus, but that “the drama of the past few days has only emphasized what’s at stake in this election — from the coronavirus to a constant drumbeat of fear, division, and chaos that’s threatening to spiral out of control.”

Credit…Kathryn Gamble for The New York Times

The attorneys general of three battleground states held a news conference on Tuesday to warn people being recruited as unofficial poll watchers that they will be prosecuted if they try to intimidate voters, violently or otherwise.

The three officials, elected Democrats from Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin, said President Trump’s call during the first debate for his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” was a clear attempt to encourage harassment of voters. They noted that when Mr. Trump made similar remarks during the 2016 presidential campaign, he added: “And when I say ‘watch,’ you know what I’m talking about. Right?’”

“I heard it loud and clear: It was a dog whistle for voter intimidation,” the attorney general of Nevada, Aaron Ford, said. “We know what he’s trying to do, and we won’t stand for it.”

The news conference, staged by the advocacy groups Let America Vote and Brady: United Against Gun Violence, followed scattered claims of voter intimidation as early voting began in states nationwide. Election officials in Fairfax County, Va., just outside Washington, escorted some voters last month past a crowd of flag-waving pro-Trump protesters outside one polling place.

After Mr. Trump singled out Philadelphia in his debate remarks on watching the polls, city officials ordered a plan for handling intimidation. Trump campaign workers later caused a stir by trying to enter a satellite election office in the city against local rules.

The three attorneys general, however, did not cite indications that any specific groups were planning to cause disturbances. Rather, “we are seeing the effort to recruit poll watchers and challengers with language that is different from what we’re used to seeing,” the attorney general of Michigan, Dana Nessel, said.

The officials nevertheless said they would cooperate with state and local law-enforcement in monitoring polls for problems, and Ms. Nessel said her office was reviewing state laws regulating carrying firearms around polls.

Some right-wing groups that claim to be recruiting volunteers to scout polls for voter fraud have cast their efforts this fall in apocalyptic terms. In a recent video, one of them, True the Vote, warned viewers that “the Marxist playbook is not about winning an election. It is about ending them altogether.’’

The attorney general of Wisconsin, Josh Kaul, dismissed charges by Mr. Trump that the vote would be rigged, saying voting in his state was “a safe and secure process.”

“It’s important for people to know that the statements the president is making about the integrity of our elections are absolutely false,” he said. “It’s also important for people to know that intimidating voters to try to prevent them form casting a ballot is illegal.”

Added Mr. Ford: “My son said to me the other day, ‘Maybe the best thing folks should do is vote and mind their business. I’m encouraging folks to do exactly that.”

Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

President Trump misrepresented former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s positions on abortion and the Supreme Court on Tuesday as his campaign tried to direct voters’ attention away from the coronavirus.

In two tweets, Mr. Trump claimed that Mr. Biden “just took a more Liberal position on Roe v. Wade than Elizabeth Warren at her highest,” that Mr. Biden “wants to PACK our great United States Supreme Court,” and that he and other Democrats “are fully in favor of (very) LATE TERM ABORTION, right up until the time of birth, and beyond.”

None of those statements are true.

Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to a town-hall event on Monday in which Mr. Biden said that, if Judge Amy Coney Barrett were confirmed to the Supreme Court and voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, “the only responsible response to that would be to pass legislation making Roe the law of the land.”

That position is not to the left of the one held by Ms. Warren, the Massachusetts senator who ran in the Democratic presidential primary, and the fact that Mr. Biden holds it is not news. He said in response to a New York Times survey last year that he supported legislation to codify Roe’s protections, the same answer every Democratic candidate who completed the survey gave.

Roe v. Wade allows restrictions on abortion in the third trimester, and such procedures are rare: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.2 percent of abortions happen after 20 weeks, and less than 1 percent after 24 weeks. (A pregnancy is considered full-term at 39 weeks.)

Democratic candidates this election cycle have generally declined to endorse restrictions on abortion after a specific date, citing the extenuating circumstances — like threats to the woman’s health or severe fetal abnormalities — that often lead women to seek later abortions.

But abortion “right up until the time of birth” does not exist. And abortion “beyond” birth is a contradiction in terms, because abortion by definition is the termination of a pregnancy; killing a child after birth is infanticide and is illegal.

Mr. Biden has also not endorsed packing the Supreme Court, as Mr. Trump claimed. He has previously rejected the idea, and he has refused to answer the question since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and the president nominated Judge Barrett to replace her.

Ad Watch

Credit…Pete Kiehart for The New York Times

With the vice-presidential debate less than 48 hours away, the Biden campaign began airing ads that exclusively feature Senator Kamala Harris, almost as if Joe Biden’s running mate were at the top of the ticket.

Senator Kamala Harris’s is the first woman of color to appear on a major presidential ticket, and the ad seeks to drive home that message on a granular level.

In an empty auditorium, a young Black girl steps into the spotlight, approaches the microphone and winces at feedback as dramatic music plays. Audio of a news broadcast announcing Ms. Harris’s selection by Mr. Biden starts to play, and the ad cuts to the girl at home watching the news. She sits up, looks at the camera and says, “Wow.”

The ad cuts back to her on stage as she leans into the microphone and announces, “Our time is now” while applause swells.

An overlay fills the screen, with the message “On November 3rd, VOTE for her” — referring to both Ms. Harris and the girl.

Ms. Harris is the first woman of color to appear on a major presidential ticket.

Nationally, as well as in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Georgia markets.

Mr. Biden’s chances rest in part on his support among Black voters. Putting Ms. Harris front and center in this ad and highlighting her barrier-breaking selection are part of the Democrats’ attempts to continue to build inroads. And the ad follows a message set by both Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris when she was selected: the importance for the next generation of young Black women to see someone who looks like them on the ticket for the White House.

Credit…Mark Makela for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. has stretched his lead over President Trump into double digits in the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania less than a month before Election Day, according to a poll released on Tuesday.

The Monmouth University poll, which shows Mr. Biden ahead of Mr. Trump 54 percent to 42 percent among registered Pennsylvania voters, is the latest bad news for the incumbent. Mr. Trump has seen his support erode in recent days after a contemptuous and chaotic performance in last week’s debate. In a similar poll conducted by Monmouth last month, Mr. Biden led Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania by only four percentage points.

Polls conducted since the debate have consistently shown Mr. Biden maintaining his comfortable lead over Mr. Trump, and increasing it in some cases.

A poll released by CNN earlier on Tuesday showed the former vice president expanding his national lead to 16 points — up from eight points in a CNN poll conducted a month ago. A national poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College in late September similarly had Mr. Biden ahead by 8 points among likely voters.

But it is a handful of swing states like Pennsylvania that will decide the election. Mr. Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania in 2016 en route to his victory over Hillary Clinton; with 20 electoral votes, it remains a hugely important state for both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump.

Tuesday’s Monmouth survey found that only 2 percent of voters were undecided and that Mr. Biden’s sizable lead held among likely voters as well.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 — entirely after the first presidential debate — with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Pollsters said they found “little differentiation” in voters’ preferences before and after the president disclosed Friday that he had Covid-19.

A Times/Siena College survey conducted after last week’s debate found Mr. Biden ahead by seven points among likely voters in Pennsylvania.

Other state polls conducted by The Times showed Mr. Biden up five points among likely voters in Florida, another crucial, populous swing state. Another poll showed Mr. Biden ahead by eight points in Arizona. Mr. Trump won both states in 2016.

Credit…Scott Olson/Getty Images

Eric Trump’s campaign appearance at a Nevada winery last month violated the state’s coronavirus health and safety regulations, drawing $14,574 in fines.

The heavily attended event featuring President Trump’s middle son violated several rules designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, state officials said in a news release.

The size of the gathering exceeded a state limit of 50 people, attendees flouted social distancing requirements, and many did not wear face masks, another state requirement, according to the Nevada Department of Business & Industry.

The agency said it fined Pahrump Valley Winery $8,501. A contractor hired by the Trump campaign was fined $6,073.

The fines, first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, are the second time this year that the Trump campaign violated Nevada’s health directives.

The city of Henderson, 15 miles southeast of Las Vegas, had fined a manufacturing facility last month after Mr. Trump’s appearance there drew about 5,000 people. Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, called the gathering “reckless and selfish.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign has made a play for Nevada, a state he narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, in 2016. But the most recent polls there show former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with an eight-point lead over Mr. Trump with only four weeks remaining in the campaign.

Credit…Hannah Yoon for The New York Times

In a video posted on an anti-immigration website, the Republican nominee for Senate in Delaware said immigrants “are dismantling our culture” and blamed them for the nation’s ills in a series of xenophobic attacks that she promoted on Twitter.

The candidate, Lauren Witzke, made the remarks in an appearance on VDARE, which has been labeled a “hate website” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its ties to white nationalists and publication of race-based science.

Ms. Witzke, who is challenging Senator Chris Coons, the Democratic incumbent, used the platform to renew her calls for a moratorium on immigration to the United States.

She told the website’s founder, Peter Brimelow, in the online discussion that immigrants were the cause of the financial struggles of Americans and drug addiction. Ms. Witzke tweeted a link to the video on Sunday night, which was reported on earlier by the website Media Matters.

“People are so worried about being called, you know, labeled a white supremacist when, you know, we are giving our country away to foreigners,” Ms. Witzke said. “They are dismantling our culture. They’re taking down our historical monuments. They’re voting against our interests.”

The rise of Ms. Witzke, 32, a pro-Trump populist, in the G.O.P. in Delaware comes as centrist Republicans have become marginalized in the home state of the Democratic presidential nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

She has been photographed wearing a QAnon T-shirt, a nod to the movement that has peddled conspiracy theories that Mr. Trump is fighting a “deep state” cabal of satanic Democrats.

In the video, Ms. Witzke echoed xenophobic comments that Mr. Trump recently made about Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. At a rally last month, Mr. Trump said that Ms. Omar was unfit to hold office because she had immigrated to the United States from Somalia. Ms. Omar became an American citizen in 2000 and is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

“We see that in Ilhan Omar’s district, you know, a district of refugees, they elected, you know, a third-world dictator, is what they did,” Ms. Witzke said. “And now it looks like the third world.”

Delaware’s Republican Party chairwoman did not respond to a request for comment on Ms. Witzke’s remarks.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Trump’s efforts to project normalcy after being hospitalized with Covid-19 a month before Election Day ran into a major stumbling block on Tuesday: the reality on the ground in Washington, where the coronavirus outbreak has upended the federal government.

  • The White House, the leading coronavirus hot spot in the nation’s capital, resembled a ghost town, with its most famous inhabitant convalescing in the residence, as a number of advisers and other officials stayed home, either because they had contracted the coronavirus or had been near people who did, including the press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who announced on Monday that she had tested positive.

  • The Capitol, a beehive workplace for 535 legislators and thousands of staff, was eerily empty on Tuesday after Senate leaders agreed to adjourn for two weeks beginning Monday, even as Republicans are trying to fast-track Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. More than 40 senators, along with more than a dozen congressional aides and reporters, have been tested for the coronavirus since late last week, officials said on Tuesday. Three Republican senators — Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — have tested positive in recent days.

  • Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with several of the Pentagon’s most senior uniformed leaders, was quarantining after being exposed to the coronavirus, a Defense Department official said on Tuesday. The official said almost the entirety of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including Gen. James C. McConville, the Army chief of staff, are quarantining after Adm. Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, tested positive for coronavirus.

Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

President Trump’s exhortation “don’t be afraid of Covid” was denounced by Democrats and others who criticized him for taking a dismissive tone about a disease that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, sickened more than 7.4 million and upended daily life across the country.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter after announcing his plan to leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he was brought by helicopter on Friday after testing positive for the coronavirus. “Don’t let it dominate your life.”

His statement, which he repeated in a video filmed at the White House, quickly resonated in the political world, with some Democrats denouncing it as cavalier, saying it implicitly suggested that those who died after contracting the virus were weak.

And several warned that minimizing the dangers posed by a virus that is spreading across the country — and the highest levels of government — sent a dangerous message at a moment health officials are pleading with the public to take precautions, wear masks and practice social distancing.

“‘Don’t be afraid of Covid’ is an evil thing to say to those of us who lost our loved ones to Covid 19,” Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota whose father died from complications of the virus, wrote on Twitter. “This man is unfit to be President, he lacks the compassion and humanity it takes to lead our country.”

Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University in Atlanta, responded to the president’s post with one of his own: “Are you telling the relatives of 210,000 Americans who have died of #COVID19 not to be afraid? Please tell everyone the truth once and for all, this is serious & #WearAMask You didn’t and got infected.”

Many Democrats noted that Mr. Trump has access to better health care than most Americans.

“Tell that to all the Americans who – unlike you – DON’T have access to the best healthcare in the world, funded entirely by taxpayers,” wrote Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. “Tell that to the families of the 200,000+ Americans who have died from COVID-19. Tell that to the essential workers risking their lives every day. And you’re STILL in court right now fighting to take away healthcare from millions of Americans.”

But several Republicans embraced Mr. Trump’s dismissive message. Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican, tweeted: “COVID stood NO chance against @realDonaldTrump” and shared a crudely doctored video of the president in a wresting match with the virus. And Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida posted: “President Trump won’t have to recover from COVID. COVID will have to recover from President Trump.”

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