Election Live Updates: Why the Stakes Are So High for Biden’s V.P. Pick

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Biden’s choice of a running mate could define the presidential contest.

For all the attention it gets, the vice-presidential choice has usually proved of little significance to the outcome of an election. But as Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, draws closer to naming his running mate, some party leaders think his selection could prove particularly meaningful this time.

President Trump has struggled to find a line of attack that works against Mr. Biden. But depending on whom Mr. Biden chooses, Mr. Trump might be able to make this contest not about his Democratic challenger but about the No. 2 person on the ticket.

That is why questions about the history of one of the front-runners for the position, Representative Karen Bass of California, have such resonance. The Trump campaign has already seized on her trips to Cuba as a young activist and her 2010 appearance at the opening of the Church of Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles.

“Biden has been a frustratingly elusive target for Trump because Biden does not sound, look or feel like the ‘radical left,’” David Axelrod, who was President Barack Obama’s senior strategist, said in an email. “So Trump is hoping to depict Biden as a Trojan Horse and the running mate as the radical-in-waiting.”

Many Democrats assume much of this anti-Bass research was unearthed and distributed by one of her rivals; that would hardly be unusual in American politics. Where it came from may not be relevant: The Trump campaign would probably have uncovered it soon enough.

Here’s why Biden keeps missing his own V.P. deadlines.

First, Mr. Biden was going to name a running mate around Aug. 1. Then he publicly floated another timeline, the end of the first week of August, but an aide confirmed that an announcement would not happen this week.

Even as the political world awaits his decision and donors are readying finance events featuring the still-unnamed running mate — “date and time to be announced” — Mr. Biden himself has not appeared to be in a big rush.

This comes as no surprise to those who know him well. Throughout his career, on issues large and small, Mr. Biden has shown himself to be openly meditative, with a penchant for missing his own deadlines as he mulls his options.

Ahead of the 2004 and 2016 presidential races, he deliberated extensively about whether to run before deciding against it. Last year, as Mr. Biden grappled again with the question, he missed one self-imposed deadline before finally joining the race. On a different scale, he is often late to his own events, lingers on rope lines and phone calls, and has been slow to formulate responses during several pivotal moments of the 2020 contest.

Mr. Biden’s habit of pushing deadlines leaves some Democrats anxious and annoyed, while others say it brings him to a well-considered decision, eventually.

Mr. Biden is now expected to name his vice-presidential choice shortly before the Democratic convention, which begins Aug. 17. While that is in keeping with the timeline of the two previous Democratic nominees, it is at odds with Mr. Biden’s own words.

“The deadline for a V.P. nomination is the convention,” said Representative Cedric Richmond, a co-chairman of Mr. Biden’s campaign. “He’s very deliberative with his decision-making. It works.”

The Tennessee Senate Republican primary may have taken a competitive turn in its final weeks, but Bill Hagerty proved that for red-state candidates in the Trump era, there are still few things more valuable than the endorsement of Donald J. Trump himself.

On Thursday, Mr. Hagerty, 60, who served as the president’s first ambassador to Japan, trounced 14 other candidates in the primary to succeed the retiring Senator Lamar Alexander.

The race had tightened in its homestretch, with an upstart candidate, Manny Sethi, riding a wave of grass-roots enthusiasm as he positioned himself as the field’s true conservative and most committed ally of the president, earning the support of prominent conservatives like Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Mr. Sethi, 42, an orthopedic surgeon, attacked Mr. Hagerty for his background in private equity, longtime friendship with Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and support from the Tennessee Republican establishment.

In the end, it wasn’t enough. Mr. Trump had endorsed Mr. Hagerty before he even entered the race. When skepticism arose about Mr. Hagerty’s commitment to the tenets of Trumpism, Mr. Hagerty squelched it simply by promoting that endorsement even more.

Mr. Hagerty will face off against Marquita Bradshaw, an environmental justice advocate who became the first Black woman to win a major-party Senate nomination in Tennessee.

Marquita Bradshaw, an environmental justice advocate who ran her Senate campaign on a shoestring budget, pulled off an upset in the state’s Democratic primary on Thursday, brushing aside a party-backed candidate who had significantly out-raised her.

Ms. Bradshaw, who grew up in South Memphis, won by roughly 9 percentage points to become the first Black woman to gain a major party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee.

She faces an uphill climb against the Republican nominee, Bill Hagerty, to claim the seat held by the retiring Senator Lamar Alexander. Tennessee has not elected a Democratic Senator since Al Gore 30 years ago.

But speaking late Thursday, Ms. Bradshaw embraced her status as an underdog.

“When we entered this race, many told us that we didn’t have a place here. And hard-working Tennesseans said different tonight,” she said.

“This was not Marquita by herself,” she added, thanking those who “lent their resources and worked their networks.”

Ms. Bradshaw finished ahead of four opponents, including James Mackler, an Army veteran backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee who, according to F.E.C. filings, had raised more than $2 million. The most recent filings available showed that Ms. Bradshaw’s campaign had raised only $8,400 at the end of March.

On the campaign trail, Ms. Bradshaw wrote and spoke frequently about environmental racism, drawing on her experience growing up near a Superfund site.

The Sunrise Movement, an influential group of progressive climate activists, cheered Ms. Bradshaw’s victory and praised her platform, which wove together environmental and social justice. “It’s 2020 and big things are happening,” the organization said in a tweet.

E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against Trump can move forward, judge rules.

A New York State court judge rejected President Trump’s bid to temporarily halt proceedings in a lawsuit filed against him by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of rape. The ruling allows the case to move forward as the election looms.

Ms. Carroll had published a memoir last year that accused Mr. Trump of sexually assaulting her in a department store dressing room in Manhattan in the 1990s. After he responded to the book by calling her a liar and saying he had never met her, she sued him for defamation.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump had sought to put the suit on hold while an appeals court decides whether to dismiss a similar lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice.” The lawyers argued that the Constitution gave a sitting president immunity against civil lawsuits in state court.

But on Thursday, Justice Verna L. Saunders in New York rejected their arguments, pointing to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that concluded Mr. Trump could not block a subpoena for his tax returns by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

The ruling allows the lawsuit to enter the discovery phase. Lawyers for Ms. Carroll had requested that Mr. Trump provide a DNA sample to determine whether his genetic material was on a dress that Ms. Carroll said she was wearing at the time of the incident.

The ruling also means that both Ms. Carroll and Mr. Trump could sit for depositions under oath in the coming months.

The Republican lawmaker challenging Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat, for her House seat in central Virginia is drawing sharp criticism for selling face masks that describe the coronavirus as “MADE IN CHINA,” the type of language that has stoked xenophobia and racism toward Asian-Americans during the pandemic.

The candidate, Nick Freitas, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, was chosen by state Republicans to face Ms. Spanberger, a former C.I.A. officer who narrowly ousted a Republican incumbent in 2018.

Mr. Freitas’s campaign store features a $15 set of three face masks, one of which displays “COVID-19” in large type, with smaller type below that reads “*MADE IN CHINA.*”

The phrase echoes rhetoric favored by Mr. Trump, who has sought for months to tie the virus to China and blame the country for spreading what he sometimes calls the “Chinese Virus.”

Asian-American civic and political leaders have accused Mr. Trump of seeking a scapegoat to distract from his failed response to the public health crisis. They say the language used by him and his supporters has contributed to the thousands of episodes of harassment and discrimination that Asian-Americans have reported during the pandemic. One group counted roughly 2,500 such incidents between March 19 and July 22.

“We are highly disturbed that delegate Nick Freitas has decided to bankroll his campaign using a narrative that identifies Covid-19 with China,” the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium Action Fund said in a statement that was signed by multiple other political groups and community leaders, adding that Mr. Freitas’s campaign “exacerbates anti-Asian racism and endangers our lives.”

In a statement, Mr. Freitas’s campaign manager, Joe Desilets, said that the masks were intended to target the “communist regime in China” that “lied to the world” about the virus and enabled its spread. “Nick will not hesitate to hold such a regime accountable,” he said.

Bettina Weiss, Ms. Spanberger’s campaign manager, said she was focused on “solving the very real problems” facing the nation and that she had “no comment on her opponent’s choice to sell divisive novelty merchandise trivializing a global pandemic.”

Trump talks up the economy in Ohio, a state he thought he had locked in.

Mr. Trump traveled Thursday to the crucial battleground of Ohio, hoping to highlight efforts to bolster the economy after the damage done by the spread of the coronavirus and to announce new executive orders to make drug prices more affordable.

But he could not escape the reality of the landscape he is facing: Before Mr. Trump arrived, the state’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, tested positive for the coronavirus during a routine screening for people meeting the president.

Mr. DeWine tested negative later in the day, using a different test that his office said was more reliable and that had been processed twice.

The sudden change in plans — Mr. DeWine had been expected to greet Mr. Trump at the airport when the president arrived — mirrored the president’s shifting fortunes in a state that coming into 2020 had seemed unassailable on Mr. Trump’s electoral map.

The failures in his response to the pandemic have changed the forecast for November in Ohio. Several polls in the state have shown Mr. Biden running close to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump could still win in Ohio, a state that has been won by Republicans seven times since 1972 and that has been a strong predictor of the national winner.

But the cost in “resources, attention and manpower is likely to cost him another needed state,” said Nicholas Everhart, the president of Content Creative Media, a Republican national ad-buying firm based in Ohio. Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign has laid out tens of millions of dollars for a fall advertising blitz there.

Biden walks back comments comparing the diversity of Black and Latino people.

Mr. Biden tried late Thursday to walk back remarks he had made suggesting that Black Americans lacked the diversity of Latinos in the United States.

“In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith — not by identity, not on issues, not at all,” he said on Twitter. “Throughout my career I’ve witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community. It’s this diversity that makes our workplaces, communities, and country a better place.”

Mr. Biden had drawn the comparisons in two appearances that aired earlier Thursday, making statements that failed to acknowledge the varying backgrounds of Black people in America.

“And by the way, what you all know but most people don’t know, unlike the African-American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things,” Mr. Biden said in an interview with members of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

“You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona,” he said. “So it’s a very different, a very diverse community.”

Later Thursday, Mr. Biden broached the subject in a virtual appearance before NALEO, a major organization that promotes Latino political participation.

“We can build a new administration that reflects the full diversity of our nation and the full diversity of the Latino communities,” Mr. Biden said.

“Now what I mean, full diversity, unlike African-American community and many other communities, you’re from everywhere. From Europe, from the tip of South America, all the way to our border, Mexico, and in the Caribbean. And different backgrounds, different ethnicities, but all Latinos.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign has been eager to draw attention to verbal missteps by Mr. Biden, including ones on race, of which there have been several.

The president, who has a long history of making racist statements and trails Mr. Biden by an overwhelming margin among Black voters, quickly weighed in after Mr. Biden’s first set of comments.

“Wow!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Joe Biden just lost the entire African American community. What a ‘dumb’ thing to say!” The president made similar comments on Friday.

The decision to cut short the census tally could be bad news for pollsters.

The Census Bureau’s decision to cut its collection period short by one month in the midst of the pandemic has made pollsters and other statisticians nervous that this year’s census could deliver faulty data.

That would leave poll-takers without the baseline population portrait they use when crafting surveys and analyzing results.

“Every demographic survey I’m aware of, they use the census,” said John Thompson, a former director of the Census Bureau. “If there’s undercounts in the 2020 census, and they’re large, that means that these surveys and these polls won’t be as accurate, because they’ll be under-representative.”

A census undercount would have political implications: It would most likely affect representation of non-English speakers and low-income people, who are typically among the hardest for demographers to reach, and who tend to tilt Democratic.

A memo issued by the Census Bureau this week, ordering an internal task force to explore methods of compiling an accurate estimate of noncitizens, adds another political wrinkle. The memo says the aim of the effort is to carry out Mr. Trump’s July mandate — already being challenged in court — to exclude undocumented residents from population totals used to divvy up House seats among the states.

But some experts inside and outside the bureau see the memo as the precursor to an effort to manipulate population figures to give Republicans an even greater edge in reapportionment.

America is in the middle of a child care meltdown.

Millions of children are out of school and unlikely to return anytime soon. Day care centers are being pushed to the brink of collapse. And parents are trying, and often failing, to balance care with working.

None of this surprises Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts senator — still under consideration to be Joe Biden’s running mate — made child care a centerpiece of her presidential campaign, proposing one of the most ambitious plans in the primary field.

Now, the problems Ms. Warren described during her campaign have hit a crisis point. And it doesn’t seem as if help is coming anytime soon — at least not from Congress or the White House.

The Times’s Lisa Lerer and Jennifer Medina recently spoke to Ms. Warren about what had changed since she ran for president, how she saw Mr. Biden’s policy plans and why strengthening child care is like building a transit system.

“We build roads and bridges so that people can get to work. We have communications systems so people can communicate and learn about jobs, right? All of those things build an infrastructure that keeps this economy going,” she said.

“Child care is a core part of our infrastructure. But when someone has a baby, in effect, our country says, ‘Hey, you’re on your own now. Good luck. Hope you can find something out there.’ That just makes it 10 times harder for every parent who’s trying to juggle raising a child and making a living.”

Kanye West seemed to indicate he was trying to get on presidential ballots in a number of states in the hopes he would damage the candidacy of Mr. Biden. Mr. West made the remarks in an interview via text with Forbes magazine.

When asked if he was running to take votes away from Mr. Biden, he said that he was “walking” for president, saying a moment later he was “walking … to win.” When the reporter said that he could end up merely serving as a spoiler, he said, “I’m not going to argue with you. Jesus is King.”

Later, when asked about harming Mr. Biden, he told the interviewer, “I’m not denying it; I just told you.”

He refused to explain his approach to getting on ballots in states like Wisconsin and Ohio, or his reliance on Republicans to help him file petitions with voter signatures to make sure he does.

He noted he was working with members of the Trump administration like Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, on the development of a school. And he has long had a relationship with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Mr. Trump, who is normally angered by challenges to his candidacy, has been notably sanguine about Mr. West, saying that he likes him and expressing no concern about his getting on the ballot.

Seeking to publicize new rewards of up to $10 million for information about people trying to attack American voting systems, the State Department sent text messages to cellphones in Russia as well as Iran.

It was the 2020 version of a longstanding tradition of projecting American messages across the borders of adversaries. But to the Russian government, and many Russians, the attempt looked ham-handed.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian government, ridiculed the message, which she said had appeared on many Russian cellphones, and predicted it would yield nothing for the United States government.

One Twitter user in Russia posted: “For 10 million, I’ll say anything. Even that the Americans landed on the moon.”

In Iran, Volghan Hosseini, an e-commerce specialist, posted a screenshot of his phone on Twitter, saying he received the message. “The things you do make one really wonder about your sanity,” he wrote sarcastically.

Some Iranians pointed out that banking sanctions against the country would make it difficult for them to collect any financial award from Washington. Others joked that they would be willing to stage a hack and inform on it in order to collect the reward. And some wondered if Iranians could really influence the American election.

“If Iran could influence elections, it would influence its own elections,” Pooria Asteraky, an information technology specialist and digital entrepreneur based in Tehran, said in a phone interview. “This is laughable, a game by the Trump administration for publicity.”

Reporting was contributed by Julian E. Barnes, Emily Cochrane, Katie Glueck, Maggie Haberman, Nicole Hong, Thomas Kaplan, Lisa Lerer, Adam Nagourney, Elaina Plott, Giovanni Russonello, Matt Stevens, Jim Tankersley and Michael Wines.

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