By LIBBY CATHEY and LAUREN KING, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — With one week until Election Day, and President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden racing toward Nov. 3, nearly 65 million have voted early so far — a record.
The president continues an aggressive, defensive campaign as polls show him trailing nationally and in several battleground states key to his reelection hopes. He holds rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Vice President Mike Pence is in the Carolinas.
Biden is on offense, spending the day in Georgia to deliver a “closing argument” on national unity. While some Democrats argue the usually red state’s electoral votes are in play, others warn against losing focus on key swing states like Wisconsin. His running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is in Nevada.
Here is how the day developed Tuesday. All times Eastern:
Oct 27, 8:48 pm
Trump campaign website ‘attacked’
The Trump campaign confirmed that its website was compromised, but has since been restored.
“Earlier this evening, the Trump campaign website was defaced and we are working with law enforcement authorities to investigate the source of the attack,” communications director Tim Murtaugh said.
The campaign said it is working with law enforcement to investigate the “source of the attack,” adding that there was no exposure to sensitive data, given it’s not stored on their site.
Oct 27, 7:47 pm
Texas Supreme Court reverses lower court ruling on ballot drop-off sites
The Texas Supreme Court this evening has now ordered Gov. Greg Abbott’s proclamation limiting counties to one mail-in ballot drop-off location be put back into effect — reversing an order last Friday from a state appeals court.
The court argues that the challenging parties did not overcome their burden to prove that Abbott was acting in bad faith in his decision to order the shutdown of drop-off locations in the state’s counties.
“The Governor’s October Proclamation provides Texas voters more ways to vote in the November 3 election than does the Election Code,” the court writes. “It does not disenfranchise anyone.”
Oct 27, 6:51 pm
Pence holds rally inside air hangar despite COVID-19 outbreak in his orbit
Following his stop in Greensboro, North Carolina, Pence held a campaign rally in Greenville, South Carolina, inside an air hangar packed with at least 2,000 people shoulder-to-shoulder — just days after at least five people in his inner circle tested positive for COVID-19.
Pence’s team said Monday that they’d be prioritizing outdoor events to have Pence go straight from Air Force Two to the stage and not use a motorcade. That wasn’t the case for this stop as he rode in a motorcade to the airport location.
As he did with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., earlier, Pence thanked Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who joined him on stage, for his work on the Senate Judiciary Committee and urged supporters to reelect Graham as their senator, calling him a “stalwart, courageous, principled leader” and adding, “I was for Lindsey Graham before it was cool.”
“Lindsey Graham’s gonna win because of the way he handled the Kavanaugh hearing. And he topped it off yesterday by leading the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett,” Pence said, praising the senator for defending Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of sexual assault allegations.
Graham is in one of the most-watched Senate races against Democratic challenger Jamie Harrison.
Oct 27, 6:06 pm
Pence, Harris react to Barrett’s confirmation on the trail
The vice president kicked off a three-stop swing through the Carolinas with a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he made a big push for supporters to reelect Sen. Thom Tillis, thanking him for his work on the Senate Judiciary Committee which has confirmed 220 federal judges — including now three Supreme Court justices — nominated by Trump.
“Just about 17 hours ago I voted for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Pence said to thundering applause. “We made sure that we fulfilled our promise of putting judges on the court who interpret the Constitution and the law and nothing else.”
Pence also slammed Biden for saying he would put together a bipartisan commission of scholars to examine the issue of court reform instead of giving American a clear answer ahead of Election Day on whether he would consider adding more justices to the high court.
“If you’re running for the highest office in the land, you ought to tell the American people whether you’re going to respect the highest court in the land,” Pence said.
The Democratic vice-presidential nominee also addressed Barrett’s confirmation to a crowd of socially distanced supporters in Reno, Nevada, after she voted no on Barrett’s confirmation from the Senate floor Monday night.
Without mentioning the new justice by name, the California senator repeated her belief that her confirmation process was “illegitimate.”
“It has been an illegitimate process from the beginning to push through and cram through a nomination of someone, while the American people are voting,” Harris said, adding the majority of Americans favored waiting until after the election before appointing a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “And there’s so much at stake.”
Harris went on to say access to health care, birth control and abortion are all at risk with Barrett’s confirmation and urged Nevadans to get out and vote early for the Democratic ticket.
Oct 27, 5:12 pm
Trump rallies in Michigan, laments COVID-19 coverage as cases rise
At a rally in Lansing, Michigan, Trump pleaded to a packed crowd filled with hundreds of supporters to get out the vote for the Republican ticket and acknowledged his presence in the state signals some concern about his winning reelection.
“Everybody — look, this is the most important election in the history of our country, ever — or I wouldn’t be standing here like this,” Trump said.
Calling the polls which put him behind “fake,” Trump predicted a “great red wave” in November.
“This Election Day, you must stop the anti-American radicals by delivering Joe Biden and the far Left a thundering defeat,” Trump said.
He also continued to lament media coverage of COVID-19 and suggested it’s intended to harm his reelection chances — as the state of Michigan grapples with record-high numbers of new coronavirus infections and 1,332 hospitalizations as of Monday.
He called Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, a “disaster” who has “got to open up the state.” His criticism comes after authorities revealed earlier this month they thwarted a months-long plan to allegedly kidnap the Democratic governor before the November election.
At the top of his remarks, Trump claimed he was once named Michigan’s “Man of the Year” — but there’s no proof any such award exists.
In 2016, Trump won Michigan by the narrowest margin of any state by 10,704 votes.
Oct 27, 4:17 pm
Biden campaign to launch 3-day bus tour in Texas
Beginning Wednesday, the Biden-Harris campaign will begin a three-day bus tour.
The tour will include appearances by members of the Texas congressional delegation, elected officials, Democratic candidates and special guests, according to a news release.
Wednesday there are stops planed for Amarillo, Lubbock, Abilene, Fort Worth and Dallas.
Oct 27, 4:10 pm
Melania Trump bashes Democrats in most political speech to date
In her first solo campaign event of 2020, first lady Melania Trump delivered her most political speech to date in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, blasting Democrats for attempting to divide the country, she said, and defending the administration for choosing to move forward — “not backward”– in its pandemic response.
Deeming her husband a “fighter,” the first lady began her prepared remarks by defending his social media use and applauding how Americans can hear “directly and instantly” from their president “for the first time in history.”
“I don’t always agree the way he says things, but it is important to him that he speaks directly to the people he serves,” she said to an enthusiastic crowd of 300 supporters packed in a barn in Atglen.
Melania Trump in Pennsylvania: “Thank you for the all the love you gave us when our family was diagnosed with COVID-19. We are feeling so much better now thanks to healthy living and some of the amazing therapeutic options available in our country.” https://t.co/dlmHTmd8jP pic.twitter.com/w5N2oXBrLd
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 27, 2020
Echoing her husband, she then ripped into Democrats, saying they are invoking fear and attempting to divide Americans amid the pandemic that has claimed more than 225,000 Americans lives.
She went on to slam Democrats for what she called a “sham impeachment” while she said Trump took “decisive actions” to slow the spread of the pandemic.
“This sham was led by opposition and their display of hatred is on display to this day,” she said to roaring applause.
Urging Pennsylvanians to get out the vote, she painted Democrats as a looming threat to “traditional values,” while pitching her husband as the anti-politician candidate who will keep American families safe.
Although the first lady herself did not model Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines by wearing a mask, she did in closing ask the audience to follow the CDC guidelines to slow the spread. Most attendees were wearing masks — which were encouraged but not required, according to release on the event — and had been asked on the loudspeaker to socially distance. However, the crowd bunched up around the stage for the first lady’s remarks.
Former senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, who left the administration in August, introduced the first lady for her appearance — as she did in 2016 when Melania made a campaign stop in the state and Conway was Trump’s campaign manager.
Oct 27, 2:33 pm
Biden pitches himself as unity candidate in a battle for the ‘soul of the nation’
Biden pitched himself as the unity candidate from Warm Springs, Georgia — a tiny, but historically significant, town in Meriwether County where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited for polio treatments and where he died. Biden channeled the Democratic hero in his remarks focused on healing the country.
“This place, Warm Springs, is a reminder that, although broken, each of us can be healed,” Biden said.
“We can overcome the suffering virus. And yes, we can restore our soul and save our country.”
Joe Biden slams Pres. Trump’s handling of the pandemic: “The president declared… he’s going to wage war on the virus. Instead he shrugged, he swaggered and he surrendered.” https://t.co/86DyGf8shT pic.twitter.com/tIAIjRxYuk
— ABC News (@ABC) October 27, 2020
The former vice president lamented the fact that on Monday the U.S. had its highest number of new cases since the pandemic began and slammed Trump for once saying of the country’s death toll, “It is what it is.”
“It is what it is because he is who he is,” Biden said. “As a president, I will never waive the white flag of surrender.”
He repeated that he is running to serve all Americans — not just those in his party — and ended with a message that he is “ready to act.”
“With our voices and our vote, we must free ourselves from the forces of darkness, from the forces of division, and the forces of yesterday, from the forces that pull us apart, hold us down and hold us back,” Biden said. “If we do so, we’ll once more become one nation, under god, indivisible, a nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed.”
Oct 27, 2:05 pm
Trump departs for 3-state rally tour, Melania to Pennsylvania
Trump told reporters as he departed the nation’s capital for rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska that he’s expecting a “proper and very nice” election night, portraying himself as a confident candidate as he heads to campaign in states he won in 2016, while sowing doubt in the election process if the race isn’t called on Nov. 3.
But certification of the votes and official results have always been determined after election night.
“Look how we’re doing everywhere practically,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn, though he trails Biden in nationwide polls. “We are going to have an exciting night, and it will be very very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November 3rd instead of counting ballots for two weeks which is totally inappropriate.”
“I don’t believe that that is by our laws. I don’t believe that, but we’ll see what happens,” Trump added.
Trump also touted the favorability of his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who is traveling to Pennsylvania to campaign for her first solo event of the 2020 cycle.
“Melania as you know is going to Pennsylvania. That’s very exciting. I’d like to go with her and be with her. She’s gonna make a speech in Pennsylvania. That’s great and she does very well, very popular,” Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews before they departed for their respective states.
Oct 27, 1:08 pm
Obama blasts Trump in Orlando, urges Biden supporters to vote ‘right now’
As Biden campaigned in Georgia, his top campaign surrogate former President Barack Obama returned to the battleground state of Florida for another drive-in rally, urging Floridians to vote “right now” and warning them not to be complacent.
Greeted by blaring horns from supporters outside Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Obama opened his speech by pointing out the last time Florida’s Tampa Bay Rays were in the World Series, as they enter Game 7 tonight, was in 2008 — when Florida helped send Obama to the White House.
“The Rays fell just a bit short then, but here in Florida, Democrats fell a little bit short in 2016 also,” Obama said. “Over the next couple of weeks, Florida, you’ve got the chance to fix two mistakes. You’ve got the chance to set two things right. You can bring a World Series championship to the Sunshine State. And you can send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House.”
“Don’t take any chances. Just get it done,” Obama said.
“This election requires every single one of us and what we do this week will matter for decades to come,” Former Pres. Barack Obama says at campaign event for former Vice Pres. Biden. https://t.co/opnTaW0keo pic.twitter.com/PxBfCZfkDm
— ABC News (@ABC) October 27, 2020
Trump’s predecessor ripped into him for what he deemed his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, excoriating him for the outbreaks at the White House, noting he lived there for eight years and that it’s a “controlled environment.”
“He’s turned the White House into a hot zone. Some of the places he holds rallies have seen new spikes right after he leaves town,” Obama said. “We cannot afford this kind of incompetence and disinterest.”
He also made his pitch specific to Florida, citing the loss of tourism and a spring training season the state experienced as cases spiked and noting how Trump has said he wouldn’t do anything differently looking back on his response.
“You can’t think of anything that you might be doing differently? Like maybe you shouldn’t have gotten on TV and suggested we might inject bleach to cure COVID,” Obama said. “Think about how hard the tourism industry has been hit right here in Orlando, right here in Florida. You lost one spring training season already, and he can’t think of doing anything differently?”
Former President Barack Obama: “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.” https://t.co/kiIDv62iRc pic.twitter.com/8G9Q2WEYWl
— ABC News (@ABC) October 27, 2020
Obama also slammed Trump for promoting baseless conspiracy theories and what he deemed his “bizarre” behavior saying, “even Florida man wouldn’t be doing some of this stuff.”
“Sometimes it’s almost too easy to make fun of it, but it’s serious. There are consequences to his actions. If he was just on Jerry Springer or something, you know, you’d say, ‘Well’ — But this is the most powerful office on earth. And when people see the president doing things like that, it emboldens other people to be mean and cruel and divisive and racist. And it frays the fabric of our lives,” Obama said.
Most attendees were standing outside their cars or sitting on top of them to get a better look — still socially distanced and wearing masks. Almost every car has at least one “Biden/Harris” sign on it.
The trip comes after Obama held a drive-in rally for Biden in North Miami on Saturday in which he urged Florida voters to cast their ballots early. In the past two weeks, Trump has held rallies in Sanford, Ocala, The Villages and Pensacola and cast his own ballot in West Palm Beach Saturday.
Florida, which Trump narrowly won in 2016, is considered a critical state in the 2020 election with polls indicating the race will be decided by the thinnest of margins.
Oct 27, 11:22 am
Background on Biden’s trip to traditionally red Georgia
Georgia, a state Trump won in 2016 by 5 points, has not delivered its electoral votes for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992 — but Biden is hoping to change as he heads to the traditionally red state for a day trip.
ABC News rates Georgia’s presidential race a toss-up, and a poll out Monday from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed Biden and Trump in a tied race. Recent election data shows the state has been trending toward purple, indicated by Biden’s visit in the homestretch.
The first of two stops for Biden is to Warm Springs, a tiny, but historically significant, town in Meriwether County where Democratic hero FDR — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt — visited for polio treatments in the warm mineral spring water and where he died during World War II. The county went for Trump in 2016 by 15 points, but only 1,418 votes separated Trump and Clinton.
According to AJC political columnist Jim Galloway’s analysis, Republicans rely heavily on getting out the vote in rural counties to win statewide, and if Biden could take some points away from them on that front, he could win Georgia’s 16 electoral votes.
The next stop Biden will make is in Atlanta, for a drive-in rally to encourage early voting as his running mate did there last week. The city of Atlanta area and suburban counties have a large concentration of Democratic voters and Black voters.
Early voting has seen record turnout in Georgia. The state is already at 71% of its total turnout in 2016, in terms of number of ballots cast. Just under 3 million have already voted. There are about 7.6 million registered voters in Georgia, and the registration deadline has passed.
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
Oct 27, 10:24 am
As race enters final week, Biden on offense, Trump on defense
Trump is playing defense in the nation’s heartland, hosting rallies today in three states he won in 2016 — Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska — as he struggles to gain ground in 2020 polls.
The president is expected to win the popular vote in Nebraska, but with polls showing Biden having a shot to win a single electoral vote based on the state’s 2nd Congressional District, Trump’s heading there may be a sign of how close his campaign expects the election will be.
Trump’s trip to the Midwest also comes as coronavirus cases there are surging, though Trump insists the country is “rounding the corner beautifully.” Biden has attempted to differentiate his events from Trump’s as more responsible, criticizing Trump to reporters on Monday for holding what Biden called “superspreader events.”
Biden’s trip to Georgia today, a state Trump took by five points in 2016 and once was expected to easily stay Republican, is a sign of his campaign’s confidence in the final days — but some warn not to repeat what happened in 2016 when Hillary Clinton failed to hang on to states Democrats were expected to win. Former President Barack Obama, Biden’s top campaign surrogate, is in Florida as Democrats aim to take the critical swing state in which Trump cast his vote.
First lady Melania Trump will head to Pennsylvania this afternoon her first solo 2020 campaign event, attempting to appeal to crucial suburban women voters, a demographic which Trump is struggling with this cycle.
Vice President Mike Pence is maintaining his aggressive campaign schedule despite a COVID-19 outbreak in his inner circle. Sen. Kamala Harris, meanwhile, is campaigning in Nevada ahead of a rare trip to Texas on Friday — another sign Democrats are looking to expand the map as Republicans attempt to maintain theirs.
Oct 27, 10:32 am
Pence to the Carolinas despite COVID-19 outbreak in inner circle
Pence is committed to spending the final seven days of the 2020 election on the campaign trail, despite the fact that an outbreak of the coronavirus has struck his inner circle.
ABC News confirmed over the weekend that along with Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short, at least four others close to the vice president — including his top political aide, Marty Obst, and his bodyman, Zach Bauer — tested positive for COVID-19.
In the last week, Pence has crisscrossed the country to over half a dozen states, holding 12 campaign rallies and two private events. He also cast his early vote in person while back home in Indianapolis, Indiana. Seeing the busy schedule Pence and his team have kept up with, as some of those infected accompanied Pence on his travels, it’s possible the virus may have spread well beyond the confines of his office.
Still, Pence is not quarantining after coming into close contact with Short and will instead continue his jam-packed campaign schedule — a move that has worried experts who say Pence “clearly meets the CDC definition” of COVID-19 exposure and should voluntarily be in quarantine.
The vice president has stops planned in North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nevada through Thursday. His campaign has made some adjustments including ending rope line greetings and having Pence speak directly from airport tarmacs to avoid motorcade travel.
Pence did not attend a confirmation ceremony for Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden Monday night, though he had attended her nomination party in the one month earlier, after which nearly a dozen attendees tested positive for COVID-19.
Click here for more on the places Pence has traveled to and the people he’s traveled with over the past week.
-ABC News’ Justin Gomez and Olivia Rubin
Oct 27, 10:31 am
Battleground-state spikes keep campaign focused on COVID-19
If Trump is tired of talking about COVID-19, his biggest problem one week from Election Day may be that voters he needs are living it — still, and especially now.
You wouldn’t know it from his rallies. And you wouldn’t know it from Monday night’s celebration for the swearing-in of just-confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett outside the White House, which featured more masks than her announcement event but no real social distancing at what amounted to be a late-night outdoor party.
The view from the ground: Among the 13 most competitive battleground states, coronavirus positivity rates are going up in 11 of them — including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona, according to an ABC News analysis of COVID Tracking Project data.
Hospitalization rates are up in nine of the 13 top-targeted states, including the five top-tier battlegrounds just referenced. The number of daily deaths is up in six critical states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio and Minnesota.
Trump’s three campaign rallies Monday barely included a mention of the pandemic and the president did not reference the recent outbreak among White House staff. The president attacked former Vice President Joe Biden for prescribing “doom and gloom” when he predicted a long road ahead.
The race’s dominant issue, though, has remained COVID-19. The inability to control the pandemic is not just a concession from the White House chief of staff — it’s a statement of reality as being lived by voters, including some with an outsized voice in the election.
-ABC News’ Political Director Rick Klein
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