Election Live Updates: What’s at Stake for Biden in the V.P. Announcement

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Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to reveal his running mate as soon as today, though senior Democrats believe the announcement is likelier to be on Wednesday or Thursday. His selection will kick off a newly intense phase of the presidential race, giving a jolt of energy to the Democrat’s candidacy as he and his party prepare for their convention next week.

Or that is the Democrats’ goal, anyway. Under normal circumstances, it would be easy enough to command the news cycle with a vice-presidential announcement. But on most days, the 2020 election is at best a secondary story, after the coronavirus pandemic. While Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential search has captivated political junkies, it has rarely made front-page news as it would in a typical election year.

So what kind of pressure does that put on Mr. Biden and his partner-in-waiting? It certainly leaves little room for error in the announcement. Mr. Biden’s aides have mapped rollouts for several of the top candidates, but executing them smoothly amid a torrent of other news — and what could be instantaneous attacks from President Trump — is a tall order.

Yet the women seen as finalists are all riveting political characters, very possibly capable of commanding the spotlight in ways that Mr. Biden has struggled to do in his own right. Unlike Mr. Biden, his running mate will be positioned to make history for something other than being the oldest person ever elected.

Perhaps most important, Mr. Biden does not need to shake up the race with his announcement. He is closing in on his vice-presidential choice in a strong political position: He is not looking to reset the campaign, as John McCain was in 2008, or scrambling to unite his party, like Mr. Trump four years ago. Like so much else about his candidacy, Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential announcement may be a success if it is simply low-drama and wins mild but broad public approval — if it is, in other words, just good enough.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

WILMINGTON, Del. — Mr. Biden has told allies that he has interviewed every finalist in his vice-presidential search, and his advisers are planning an announcement for the middle of the week, people briefed on the selection process said on Monday.

In a sign that the choice is now in Mr. Biden’s hands alone, the four-member committee that screened his potential running mates is said to have effectively disbanded — its work is complete, Biden allies said, and there is little left to do except for Mr. Biden to make up his mind.

The former vice president, however, has not been known for his punctuality so far in the presidential race and the timeline could well slip again.

Mr. Biden has spoken with the vice-presidential candidates through a combination of in-person sessions and remote meetings over the last few weeks, but the exact timing and circumstances of all of the meetings are not clear. Close advisers to Mr. Biden said he had been directly in touch with all of the leading candidates.

Some of the strongest contenders have been Senator Kamala Harris of California; Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser; Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who met with Mr. Biden on Aug. 2. Mr. Biden and his team have also closely considered Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Representatives Karen Bass of California and Val Demings of Florida.

Democratic officials believe that Michelle Obama, the former first lady, could attract the widest viewership of the week apart from Mr. Biden. 
Credit…Charles Sykes/Invision, via Associated Press

The Democratic National Convention will play out like a star-studded Zoom call next week, anchored by nightly prime-time keynote speeches, with Michelle Obama appearing on Monday, Jill Biden on Tuesday, Barack Obama on Wednesday, and Mr. Biden’s acceptance speech on Thursday, according to a schedule of events.

The convention, originally planned for Milwaukee, then forced into a cramped virtual format by the coronavirus, has been a logistical nightmare for planners who have had to grapple with wary television networks, daunting technical challenges and the omnipresent, low-grade threat of a disruption by Mr. Trump.

The schedule, provided by Democratic officials involved in the planning, above all else reflects Mr. Biden’s chief political goal: uniting the jostling progressive and establishment wings of the Democratic Party behind an elder statesman who has spent the last several months courting skeptical progressives.

The first-night schedule reflects that big-tent objective. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mr. Biden’s main rival for the nomination — and still the standard-bearer of the populist left — has been given a keynote slot, just before Mrs. Obama speaks, and after Andrew M. Cuomo, the moderate governor of New York, delivers what is expected to be a scathing attack on Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

After the formality of a virtual delegate vote on Tuesday, Mr. Biden’s running mate will address the convention on Wednesday. As a precaution, planners have scheduled speaking times for some top vice-presidential contenders in case they are not picked, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.

Representative Ilhan Omar campaigning in Richfield, Minn., on Saturday.
Credit…Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Six states hold primaries and runoffs on Tuesday, but the spotlight will be on Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota. In her primary race for re-election, she hopes to continue a string of victories by progressive candidates nationwide, but she faces a well-financed challenge from Antone Melton-Meaux, a lawyer who has raised more than $4 million.

Ms. Omar, an unabashed progressive who has at times run afoul of some party leaders, won the support of House Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her re-election efforts. Her opponent, Mr. Melton-Meaux, has tried to cast her as a national lightning rod too controversial for the district, however.

Mr. Melton-Meaux nearly matched Ms. Omar’s fund-raising over all and outraised her in the most recent cycle, sending alarm bells that the race could be closer than expected. Polls opened at 8 a.m. Eastern time and close at 9 p.m.

The race has also been upended by the killing of George Floyd, the Black man whose death in the custody of the Minneapolis police ignited protests across the country. Ms. Omar has been a leading voice in advocating systemic changes such as restructuring the police department, while her opponents have focused on more incremental reforms.

If she loses, it will be a victory for a rare alliance: center-left Democrats and right-wingers who love Mr. Trump. Together, their mutual dislike of Ms. Omar has fueled donations for her challenger, and placed pressure on her in a tough primary in a deep-blue district. Her critics point to a record of controversy, including comments she made that were criticized as anti-Semitic, and for which she apologized. Now her fate is up to her district’s voters.

The Republican Party is going to find out just how big a QAnon problem it has on Tuesday when a primary runoff is decided in a northwest Georgia district, where polls opened at 7 a.m. Eastern time.

The favorite in the race in the 14th Congressional District is Marjorie Taylor Greene, a gun-rights activist who is an unabashed supporter of QAnon, a fringe group that has been pushing a convoluted pro-Trump conspiracy theory. Lined up against her is John Cowan, a physician who is no less conservative or pro-Trump, but who does not believe QAnon’s theory that there is a “deep state” of child-molesting Satanist traitors plotting against the president. The winner is a near lock to be elected to Congress in the overwhelmingly Republican district.

The F.B.I. has labeled QAnon a potential domestic terrorism threat, and the conspiracy theory has already inspired real-world violence. Yet its supporters are slowly becoming a political force with more than a dozen candidates who have expressed some degree of support for the theory, running for Congress as Republicans.

Most are expected to lose. Yet all present a fresh headache for Republican leaders.

The party, while already struggling to distance itself from conspiracy theories steeped in racist and anti-Semitic messaging, also cannot afford to turn off voters who share those conspiratorial views if it hopes to retain the Senate and retake the House.

A victory for Ms. Greene would make that balancing act far harder. She has been caught in Facebook videos making a series of offensive remarks about Black people, Jews and Muslims. And unlike some other QAnon-linked candidates, she has made no effort to soft-pedal her support for the conspiracy theory. She recently called it “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out.”

Yet she nonetheless won 40 percent of the vote in the district’s Republican primary in June. Mr. Cowan won 21 percent, and the remainder of the votes were split between seven other candidates.

As voting takes place in Georgia and Wisconsin on Tuesday — polls opened at 7 a.m. Eastern in Georgia and 8 a.m. Eastern in Minnesota — attention will be on the election systems just as much as the candidates.

These two battleground states struggled to hold earlier primary elections amid the pandemic; while Tuesday’s elections will probably have lower turnout, they will still be a test of the voting apparatus.

In Wisconsin, which was the first state to hold a large, statewide election as the pandemic was surging in early April, the coronavirus is still near peak levels, but the elections system appears to be on more solid footing. One of the key causes of the long, mask-clad lines in Milwaukee in April was a shortage of poll workers, which led the city to consolidate 180 polling locations down to five.

On Tuesday, about 170 voting sites will be open in Milwaukee, or roughly 95 percent of the regular sites. The state also activated the National Guard, which will be dressed in plain clothes, to be on standby should there be any emergency shortages on Tuesday.

In Georgia, where about 60 percent of the state’s counties are holding elections, the turnout isn’t expected to reach levels at which long lines would be a problem as they were during the primary. The state’s most populous county — Fulton County — also opened an early voting location at State Farm Arena in Atlanta to help alleviate Election Day surges.

The absentee ballot deadlines, which required a ballot to arrive by close of business on Friday, remain unchanged from the primary election in June.

President Trump has floated the idea that he would deliver his renomination speech at Gettysburg, the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

After repeatedly throwing a wrench into plans for the Republican National Convention this summer, Mr. Trump on Monday tried to offer something tantalizing about the upcoming gathering, saying that his renomination speech would take place either at the White House or the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa.

“We will announce the decision soon!” Mr. Trump teased in a Twitter post.

It was perhaps a predictable move by the first president to be credited as an executive producer of a network reality show while sitting in office.

But whether Mr. Trump will actually deliver a nationally televised address in Gettysburg — the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, a place memorialized in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln as hallowed ground — remains an open question.

The battlefield, where Mr. Trump gave an indoor campaign speech in 2016, is federal property run by the National Park Service. This presents the same ethical conundrums his re-election team will face if the president delivers the speech from the South Lawn of the White House.

In private, Mr. Trump has expressed to aides more interest in delivering his address at the White House, in part because of the ease of arranging the speech, set for Aug. 27, in a short time frame.

The president is not subject to the Hatch Act, a Depression-era law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while on the job. But everyone who works for him is. By delivering a speech with the Gettysburg battlefield as a backdrop, experts said, Mr. Trump would risk putting park rangers and other park employees at risk of a violation.

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