2020 Election Live Updates: Trump Tires of Economic Message and Returns to...

2020 Election Live Updates: Trump Tires of Economic Message and Returns to Attacks Amid Florida Duel With Biden

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Trump Boasts About G.D.P Growth and Attacks News Media

President Trump campaigned in Tampa, Fla., Thursday boasting about third-quarter economic gains, and assailing the news media as “the enemy of the people.”

You know some people said — I get a call from all the experts right, guys, that ran for president six, seven, eight times, never got past the first round. But they’re calling me up, “Sir, you shouldn’t be speaking about Hunter. You shouldn’t be saying bad things about Biden because nobody cares.” I disagree. You know, maybe that’s why I’m here and they’re not. But … [cheering] they say, they say, “Talk about your economic success. Talk about 33.1 percent — the greatest in history.” Now look, if I do, I mean, how many times can I say it? I’ll say it five or six times during a speech, “33.1.” How about “anonymous,” did we see anonymous — a low staffer? “Anonymous” turned out to be a guy. I’m trying to figure out — I don’t know who the hell this guy is. So The New York Times said “a senior White House official” — nobody knew who he was. This was a — look, we are in big trouble with the press. They are truly the enemy of the people. They are the enemy of the people. Our incredible first lady is sitting here right now, and she’s saying, and she’s saying to herself, I wonder if all rallies are like this. No most of them are a little bit different, but that’s OK. You know why, honey, we’re in Florida. This is like home, this is home.

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President Trump campaigned in Tampa, Fla., Thursday boasting about third-quarter economic gains, and assailing the news media as “the enemy of the people.”CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Democrats braced on Thursday for what promised to be a rare good-news cycle for President Trump in the 2020 homestretch: the release of a report showing gross domestic product grew about 7 percent in the third quarter, or 30 percent on an annualized basis.

But Mr. Trump, campaigning in Tampa just hours before Joseph R. Biden Jr. was set to appear at a rally across town, spent only about 10 minutes on the economy, calling the increase the “biggest event in business” of the last 50 years.

He quickly moved on, mocking Republicans who have repeatedly advised him to focus on his economic record instead of lashing out at enemies and harping on the issue of Hunter Biden’s business dealings.

“I get a call from all the experts, right, guys that ran for president six, seven, eight times, never got past the first round, but they’re calling me up. ‘Sir, you shouldn’t be speaking about Hunter,’” he said, his voice hoarse and raspy. “‘You shouldn’t be saying bad things about Biden because nobody cares.’ I disagree. You know, maybe that’s why I’m here and they’re not.”

He added: “They say, ‘Talk about your economic success. Talk about 33.1 percent, the greatest in history.’ Now, look, if I do, I mean, how many times can I say it?”

It is not just random former presidential candidates who are counseling him to focus: Mr. Trump’s own campaign advisers want him to hit on broader political themes, and steer away from personal attacks that will further alienate women and suburban voters.

Mr. Biden currently has a small edge in Florida, according to polling averages, but a huge turnout on Election Day by Trump supporters could be enough to offset the former vice president’s expected advantage from mail-in ballots.

The rally in Tampa kicked off on a disciplined note, perhaps because another Trump was at the podium.

Melania Trump, the first lady, who has been mostly absent from campaign events, introduced her husband by reading a carefully drafted speech praising his ability to counter the coronavirus pandemic, save the economy and improve the tenor of political discourse.

Mrs. Trump condemned the “hate, negativity and fear” that she said “the media streams into our homes,” stopping several times to acknowledge riotous applause from the president’s supporters, before sitting down in a folding chair next to the stage.

After touting the G.D.P. numbers — which revived the country only partway out of its pandemic-induced swoon — Mr. Trump offered a rambling and confessional speech that began with vitriolic attacks on the media, a takedown of Miles Taylor, the former Homeland Security official who penned an anonymous anti-Trump op-ed in The New York Times, and then segued into his typical wisecracks about Mr. Biden’s mental acuity.

Mr. Trump predicted a massive “red wave,” that would sweep him to victory in Florida and elsewhere, and questioned the accuracy of polls showing him facing a possible defeat.

At other moments, Mr. Trump mused about a less positive outcome.

“Could you imagine losing to this guy?” he asked about Mr. Biden, peering down at his wife who was quietly watching him behind sunglasses.

Midway through Mr. Trump’s remarks, several attendees received medical attention because of the heat — it was 87 degrees and humid, according to pool report filed by reporters traveling with Mr. Trump.

At one point, the president stopped to remark on a truck, located near the rear of the crowd, that was spraying people with cold water from a hose. “Let’s find out if they’re friend or foe,” he said. “And if they’re foe, let’s take care of” them, adding his own colorful description.

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‘It’s Up to You, You Hold the Key,’ Biden Tells Florida Voters

Campaigning in South Florida, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, called on Latino voters to reject President Trump, and promised to reverse Trump’s hard-line Cuba policy.

We have to vote for a new Cuba policy as well. This administration approach isn’t working. Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago. In fact, there are more political prisoners and secret police are as brutal as ever. And Russia once again, has a major presence in Havana. So much for his policy. President Trump can’t advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people or the Venezuelan people for that matter, when he has embraced so many autocrats around the world — started with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un of North Korea. Trump is the worst possible standard bearer for democracy in places like Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea. For my entire career, I stood for democracy, human rights, for freedom of the press, assembly, freedom of religion and against dictators whether they’re left or right. Ladies and gentlemen, the heart and soul of this country is at stake, right here in Florida. It’s up to you, you hold the key. If Florida goes blue, it’s over. It’s over.

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Campaigning in South Florida, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, called on Latino voters to reject President Trump, and promised to reverse Trump’s hard-line Cuba policy.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

As President Trump rallied in Tampa, Joseph R. Biden Jr. held a drive-in campaign event on the other side of Florida in the Democratic stronghold of Broward County, making an explicit pitch to Hispanic voters five days before the election.

Recent polls suggest that while Florida is effectively tied, Mr. Trump has made inroads with Latinos, a crucial demographic in Florida and other battleground states. In South Florida, the president has especially consolidated his popularity among Cuban-Americans, including newer Cuban immigrants.

“Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago,” Mr. Biden, in shirt sleeves and sunglasses, said at Broward College’s North Campus in Coconut Creek. “In fact, there are more political prisoners and secret police are as brutal as ever, and Russia once again is a major presence in Havana.”

In promising to reverse Mr. Trump’s more hard-line Cuba policy, Mr. Biden also reiterated that he considers Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s left-wing president, to be a “thug.” Though Venezuelan-Americans have tended to lean Democratic, the president’s tough rhetoric and sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s government have endeared him to some Venezuelan voters.

“President Trump can’t advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people or the Venezuelan people, for that matter, when he has praised so many autocrats around the world,” Mr. Biden said.

He also dismissed Mr. Trump’s rally on the other side of the state as a “super-spreader” event.

Mr. Trump later struck back on Twitter, writing, “Our opponents want to turn America into Communist Cuba or Socialist Venezuela.”

Florida, the biggest presidential battleground state, is expected to report its results relatively quickly on Tuesday night, which could set the tenor for how Americans view the early outcome of the presidential race.

“If Florida goes blue, it’s over,” Mr. Biden said.

The STATE OF THE STATES

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The battle over whether Florida will go red or blue in the presidential election has been almost overshadowed by the state’s position on another color-coded map: Florida is listed in the red zone for coronavirus cases in the latest weekly report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which noted an increase in new cases over the past week.

As President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. both stumped in Florida on Thursday, polls showed a tight race where Mr. Biden has a very narrow advantage. An NBC/Marist poll of Florida released Thursday morning found him holding a four-point edge over the president among likely voters — a lead within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points but in line with polls that have consistently found Mr. Biden slightly ahead in the state, which Mr. Trump carried in 2016 and which is crucial to his re-election hopes.

A Monmouth University poll released Thursday afternoon showed Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump by 50 percent to 45 percent among registered voters, and by 51 percent to 45 percent among likely voters if it is a high-turnout election. That poll also had a margin or error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Early voting in the state has been strong: with five days left before Election Day, the state has already received more than three-quarters of the votes that were counted in the entire 2016 presidential election, according to the United States Elections Project.

While it is unclear who the early votes were for, the party breakdown of those who have cast ballots suggests a close race. Democrats built up a big edge with mail-in ballots, but Republicans have eaten into their lead by casting more in-person votes. As of early Thursday afternoon, the project found that 40.5 percent of the early votes in Florida had been cast by Democrats, 37.7 percent by Republicans, and 21.7 percent by people without a party affiliation or who are in minor parties.

Florida’s I-4 corridor, a stretch of highway across Central Florida that links Tampa and Orlando, has long been seen as the swing zone that helped sway elections in the state.

This year, the area’s once-booming leisure and hospitality industry has been sent reeling by the virus in ways that could affect the presidential race. Unemployment in Orange County — home to Disney World, the Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld and smaller tourist attractions — stood at 10.4 percent in September. Osceola County, to its south, had the highest unemployment rate in the state: 13.3 percent.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

This weekend, after 25 days of waiting for an absentee ballot that never arrived, Laura Ruch, 30, will leave her medical fellowship in Atlanta, board a plane to Ohio against her better judgment and fly home to vote in person amid the pandemic.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Ms. Ruch, who has called and emailed repeatedly without receiving satisfactory answers from local elections officials about her ballot’s fate. “If this is happening to me, it’s probably happening to lots of people.”

In the final week of voting in the 2020 campaign, the worst fears about the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to handle the crush of election-season mail have not materialized, according to interviews this week with secretaries of state in battleground jurisdictions and election experts. “Generally speaking, we’re pleased with the service,” said Steve Simon, a Democrat who is the secretary of state in Minnesota, where he expects as many as 40 percent of voters to cast ballots by mail.

But the Postal Service’s record of getting mail-in ballots to voters and then returning them to elections authorities on time has been spotty and inconsistent enough to leave some voters anxious and looking for last-minute ways to assure their votes will be counted.

The nationwide figure for on-time delivery of mail ballots has bounced around this week, from 89 percent on Tuesday to 97 percent on Wednesday, amid wide variations in individual regions. The Postal Service, which has cautioned against reading too much into daily fluctuations in performance, has designated election mail as its highest priority and defines on-time delivery as arriving within one to three days.

Mail service in general in about 60 of 67 postal districts across the country remains consistently worse than it was before cost-cutting measures carried out in July by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy substantially slowed service. And in 10 districts — including ones crucial to the election’s outcome, such as Philadelphia, Detroit and northern Ohio — first-class mail performance is particularly slow, with more than 20 percent of it delivered late.

J. Remy Green, a lawyer representing 17 mail-in voters in a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York, said that the Postal Service was performing much better than its low point this summer, but that figures this week showing more than 10 percent of ballots on a given day not being sorted in a timely way are troublesome.

“In that regard, 89 percent is quite shocking,” Mx. Green said. “You knew these were ballots and you only got them in 89 percent of the time? That’s wild.”

Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

Senator David Perdue of Georgia withdrew on Thursday from the final debate in his tight re-election race, a day after his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, called him a “crook” and accused the vulnerable Republican of trying to profit from the coronavirus pandemic.

The rivals had been scheduled to face off on Sunday on the Atlanta television station WSB, the third debate in one of two pivotal Senate races in Georgia that could determine which party controls the chamber. The candidates had committed to the debate in September, according to Mr. Ossoff’s campaign.

The news first broke Thursday evening when Mr. Ossoff wrote on Twitter that Mr. Perdue had canceled on him.

“At last night’s debate, millions saw that Perdue had no answers when I called him out on his record of blatant corruption, widespread disease, and economic devastation,” Mr. Ossoff wrote. “Shame on you, Senator.”

A spokesman for Mr. Perdue confirmed that he would not be at the debate and said in a statement that the senator had better uses of his time.

“As lovely as another debate listening to Jon Ossoff lie to the people of Georgia sounds, Senator Perdue will not be participating in the WSB-TV debate but will instead join the 45th president, Donald J. Trump, for a huge get-out-the-vote rally in Northwest Georgia,” the spokesman, John Burke, said.

Mr. Ossoff’s stinging comments about Mr. Perdue’s conduct came during a bruising debate that underscored the bitter partisan divide in what was once a safely Republican state. Mr. Perdue, 70, said he had done nothing wrong, and accused Mr. Ossoff, 33, of pursuing a “radical socialist agenda” that would result in higher taxes.

Mr. Perdue, a wealthy former corporate executive, bought stock in DuPont de Nemours, which sells personal protective equipment, on Jan. 24, the same day he received a classified briefing on the threat posed by the coronavirus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“It’s not just that you’re a crook, Senator,” Mr. Ossoff said, turning to face his socially-distanced opponent as Mr. Perdue’s eyes remained fixed on the camera. “It’s that you’re attacking the health of the people that you represent. You did say Covid-19 was no deadlier than the flu. You did say there would be no significant uptick in cases. All the while you were looking after your own assets and your own portfolio.”

Mr. Perdue has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and said any transactions he made were executed by a financial adviser without his knowledge.

“The thing I’m most upset about,” Mr. Perdue said of Mr. Ossoff, “is that he’ll say and do anything to my friends in Georgia to mislead them about how radical and socialist” his agenda is.

Recent polls have found Mr. Perdue and Mr. Ossoff in a dead heat. If neither candidate hits 50 percent of the vote, they will compete in a runoff election in January.

Mr. Ossoff — echoing a national Democratic strategy of focusing on health care — went on to criticize Mr. Perdue for voting repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act and attempting to gut Obama-era safeguards for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Mr. Perdue pointed to legislation he co-sponsored that he claimed offered “protection for pre-existing conditions.”

The senator’s bill, which went nowhere, does say that insurance companies can’t deny coverage based on “any pre-existing condition,” but it contains a major loophole, giving insurers the option of rejecting a patient if a provider does “not have the capacity to deliver services adequately.”

Georgia’s other Senate race is also close, though the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat and pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has led in recent polls. He faces Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican who was appointed to her seat; Representative Doug Collins, another Republican; and several other candidates. That race will almost certainly result in a runoff. Ms. Loeffler has faced similar criticism over stock trades before Americans became aware of the magnitude of the virus.

Credit…Jim Mone/Associated Press

A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that Minnesota election officials may not accept any ballots that arrive after 8 p.m. on Election Day, reversing the state’s seven-day grace period that had been in place for ballots postmarked by Election Day.

The ruling, which comes just five days before Election Day, could have a significant impact on voting in the state. As of Thursday night an estimated 578,000 absentee ballots that had been requested in the state had not been returned, based on figures from the U.S. Elections Project. Many of those ballots could already be in the mail, and voters can still return those ballots in person.

In a 2-to-1 ruling, the court said that the Minnesota secretary of state “extended the deadline for receipt of ballots without legislative authorization” and therefore the ballot extension did not have the proper legal authority.

“The consequences of this order are not lost on us,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion. “We acknowledge and understand the concerns over voter confusion, election administration issues, and public confidence in the election.”

But, the court said, “we conclude the challenges that will stem from this ruling are preferable to a postelection scenario where mail-in votes, received after the statutory deadline, are either intermingled with ballots received on time or invalidated without prior warning. Better to put those voters on notice now while they still have at least some time to adjust their plans and cast their votes in an unquestionably lawful way.”

Judge Jane L. Kelly, in a dissenting opinion, said that the decision “will cause voter confusion and undermine Minnesotans’ confidence in the election process.” She said it also risks disenfranchising voters in Minnesota.

Elections officials in the state have been instructing voters who had not mailed their ballots by Oct. 27 to return them by drop box or to vote in person. But the decision still puts the fate of an unknown number of ballots at risk.

The court instructed elections officials to segregate and maintain all ballots that arrive after the 8 p.m. deadline.

Democrats in Minnesota decried the decision.

“In the middle of a pandemic, the Republican Party is doing everything to make it hard for you to vote,” Senator Amy Klobuchar, the senior senator from Minnesota and a Democrat, said on Twitter. “Stand up for YOUR rights: Vote in-person or take mail-in ballot directly to ballot box”

Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a small but durable lead over President Trump in North Carolina, where fully 64 percent of likely voters say they have already cast their ballots, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released on Thursday.

And in a North Carolina race crucial to the control of the Senate, the Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, maintains a 46 to 43 percent edge over Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, despite a late-breaking scandal over romantic texts Mr. Cunningham sent to a woman who is not his wife.

Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump 48 percent to 45 percent in the survey, which was conducted after the final presidential debate last week. Nearly seven in 10 voters said they had watched the debate. Mr. Trump’s performance received mixed reviews in North Carolina, with voters split nearly evenly on who they thought won.


The New York Times /
Siena College poll

Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by three points in North Carolina, a battleground state that Mr. Trump won in 2016.

+4 Trump
50-46

+1 Biden
45-44

+4 Biden
46-42

+3 Biden
48-45

Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of 1,034 likely voters in North Carolina from Oct. 23 to Oct. 27.

Mr. Trump was set to make his ninth campaign visit to the state since early September Thursday night with a rally in Fayetteville, a sign that his campaign was worried about a state the president won by nearly four points in 2016. But the campaign announced Thursday afternoon that the rally had been postponed.

This week, North Carolina reported its second-highest number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus in a day, 1,214, since the pandemic began. At a North Carolina rally on Saturday in Lumberton, Mr. Trump had dismissed the virus threat as overblown and driven by political enemies. “Covid, Covid, Covid,” he said. “On Nov. 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”

The margins in both the presidential and Senate races in the state were nearly identical to those in the previous Times/Siena poll, in mid-October, which found Mr. Biden and Mr. Cunningham both ahead by four points. North Carolina is one of several states Democrats hope to flip in their bid to gain three seats and win back the Senate.

The poll of 1,034 likely voters has a margin of error of about four percentage points.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump abruptly canceled a planned campaign rally in Fayetteville, N.C., Thursday afternoon, citing high winds, but traveled to nearby Fort Bragg for a prescheduled, “troop engagement” event that was closed to the press.

About three hours before the North Carolina rally was set to begin, the president’s campaign put out a statement saying that “because of a wind advisory issued with gusts reaching 50 miles per hour and other weather conditions, the outdoor Fayetteville, NC rally has been postponed until Monday.”

But Air Force One continued on from Florida to North Carolina despite the high winds, landing at around 5 p.m. Asked about the rally, Mr. Trump told reporters: “The wind was terrible” and said “we’re redoing it on Monday.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign gave no other explanation for the cancellation of the rally. Mr. Trump has complained about the cold or windy weather at several of his rallies in recent days, saying in Lansing, Mich., this week: “It’s 32 degrees out here, and it’s freezing, and it’s raining, and I’m just trying to keep up with the tough people of Michigan.”

The last time Mr. Trump cited the weather in his decision to cancel a rally was in July, when he was set to travel to Portsmouth, N.H. His aides cited safety concerns associated with an incoming tropical storm. But weather forecasts for Portsmouth indicated that the rain was supposed to stop there around noon; the rally was scheduled for 8 p.m.

In an interview with Axios on HBO, Mr. Trump later conceded that the event had been canceled because of his concern about having a big enough crowd.

After discussing the challenges he had with the infamous rally in Tulsa, Okla., where the campaign bragged about millions of ticket requests and where Mr. Trump ended up speaking to a mostly empty arena, he said the same issues prevented him from speaking to supporters in New Hampshire. “I had to cancel it,” he said. “We were going to have a great crowd in New Hampshire, and I canceled it for the same reason.”

Ad Watch

Now that the recommended deadline for returning mail-in ballots has passed, the Biden campaign is running a new series of ads directing voters to cast their ballots by drop box.

In an effort to symbolize the power of the vote, the ad opens with a cartoonish animation — a black oval on a white background morphing like the outline of a mouth to the audio of President Trump’s comments. As the ad clips together disparaging remarks the president made, pronouncements about the coronavirus and supportive calls to the Proud Boys, a ballpoint pen slowly enters the frame, and begins filling in the black oval.

The audio slowly fades as the oval turns completely black and the camera zooms out to reveal the shape as a filled-in paper ballot cast for Joseph R. Biden Jr. The folding of an envelope and creaking sound of a ballot drop box provide the only audio at the end, as the screen says “Silence him. Vote by drop box.”

In a letter sent to state elections officials in August, the United States Postal Service said that Oct. 27 was the latest that it would recommend putting ballots in the mail to reach elections officials by Nov. 3. There has since been a major push to remind voters that they can safely put their ballots in drop boxes in the days leading up to Election Day.

Nationally.

Across the country, Democrats are requesting mail-in ballots at a greater rate than Republicans, including in key states like Pennsylvania. With some court decisions shortening the deadlines by which ballots must reach local officials, the Biden campaign is using its vast paid media operation to remind voters to use drop boxes now to make sure their votes count.

Credit…Jorge Duenes/Reuters

Seizing on one of the most emotional issues of the campaign — the Trump administration’s immigration policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border — Joseph R. Biden Jr. pledged Thursday to create a federal task to try to reunite the families of 545 children who were separated and whose deported parents cannot be located.

The new task force, which Mr. Biden said he would create on his first day in office, was announced in a new television commercial that the campaign said would run in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Nevada.

The parents of 545 of the separated children still have not been found, according to court documents filed this month in a case challenging the practice, though attempts to find them have been going on for years. About 60 of the children were younger than 5 when they were separated, the documents show.

The Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policy spurred the separation of thousands of families, many of them fleeing violence in Central America and seeking asylum in the United States, before President Trump abandoned it amid global outrage.

The new Biden campaign ad contains excerpts from one of his debates with Mr. Trump, in which he decried the policy. “Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated, and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents, and those kids are alone,” Mr. Biden said. “Nowhere to go. It’s criminal.”

And the ad included part of Mr. Trump’s answer. “They’re so well taken care of,” he said. “They’re in facilities that were so clean.”

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Cinemagraph

Many voting rules have changed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, making it harder than usual to figure out how to cast your ballot. So we did the work for you, in hopes of helping to make sure your vote is counted.

If you still have questions about the voting process or the election process in general, check out our frequently asked questions.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Quinnipiac University released polls in four major swing states on Thursday, showing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading in Pennsylvania, narrowly ahead in Ohio, and effectively tied with President Trump in Florida and Iowa.

Mr. Biden was ahead of Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania by seven points, 51 percent to 44 percent, and in Ohio by five points, 48 percent to 43 percent.

His lead in Pennsylvania was outside the margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, while his lead in Ohio was just inside the margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

The Florida poll found Mr. Biden at 45 percent and Mr. Trump at 42 percent, while the Iowa poll found Mr. Trump at 47 percent and Mr. Biden at 46 percent. Neither of those margins is statistically meaningful.

Mr. Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania is the most significant takeaway from the Quinnipiac polls, because if he wins there and also takes Michigan and Wisconsin — where most surveys have shown him with comfortable leads — he can afford to lose Florida, Iowa and Ohio and still win the election.

Mr. Trump has been fighting hard in Pennsylvania, which looks to be his best shot at holding on to a slim Electoral College majority. Without Pennsylvania, it would be almost impossible for him to win re-election.

Credit…Julia Rendleman for The New York Times

The Biden campaign announced Thursday that “a non-staff flight crew member that traveled on a support plane” for Doug Emhoff — the spouse of Senator Kamala Harris, Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s running mate — had tested positive for Covid-19. But it said that Mr. Emhoff had not been in close contact with the crew member, and that he had tested negative for the virus on Thursday.

“Mr. Emhoff was not on the plane with this individual,” Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, the Biden campaign manager, said in a statement. “He was not in close contact with this individual, and did not even have passing contact with them at any point. Therefore he is not required to quarantine.”

The statement did note that “other members of the flight crew as well as two members of Mr. Emhoff’s support staff had been in close contact with this individual” and that they were quarantining.

Mr. Emhoff has maintained an intense travel schedule on behalf of the campaign. He was tested for the virus on Thursday, the campaign said, and it was not detected.

“He will continue to Ohio today and with his campaign itinerary through Election Day,” the statement concluded.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. will make a stop in Minnesota on Friday, his campaign announced on Thursday, a rare instance in which the Democratic nominee is playing defense in the final days of the election.

Minnesota is one of the few states that President Trump has targeted as a pickup opportunity, and it narrowly eluded him in the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton won there by only 1.5 percentage points, though Mr. Biden is in a stronger position this time around, with a nine-point lead over Mr. Trump, according to polling averages.

Friday is shaping up to be one of Mr. Biden’s busiest days of the general election, with planned visits to three states in the Midwest. In Minnesota, he will hold a drive-in rally in St. Paul in the afternoon. He is also slated to campaign in Iowa and Wisconsin, two states that Mr. Trump won in 2016.

In the final days before Tuesday’s election, Mr. Biden’s travel schedule has been mostly focused on states that he is trying to pry away from Mr. Trump. On Thursday, the former vice president is campaigning in Florida, and he is scheduled to appear with former President Barack Obama in Michigan on Saturday. Earlier in the week, Mr. Biden made visits to Pennsylvania and Georgia, two other states Mr. Trump is defending.

Credit…Angus Mordant/Reuters

Climate change is on the ballot this year, and not just in the presidential race.

Nowhere is that more evident than in Texas, where Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, poured $2.5 million into a Texas Railroad Commission race this week.

Contrary to its name, the 130-year-old regulatory body actually oversees the state’s oil and gas industry. Chrysta Castañeda, a Democrat, is vying for a spot on a platform of reducing methane flaring and other policies to address climate change.

“The industry acknowledges that climate change is real and that it is caused by human activities, including oil and gas extraction,” Ms. Castañeda, an engineer and lawyer, says on her website. “Yet our Texas Railroad Commissioners refuse to acknowledge this reality and do the things that would help us mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.”

Her opponent, Jim Wright, a Republican businessman, is running on securing the border to protect infrastructure and on bolstering the oil and gas industry. He also has espoused some fringe theories about both climate change and renewable energy, according to an interview recently uncovered by the watchdog group Documented.

“There are a lot of documents out there, but nobody’s proven to me exactly, and pinpoint what, what is really hurting our atmosphere,” Mr. Wright said in an interview this month on the Oil and Gas Startups podcast. “What I do know about our Earth is we have evolved and continue to evolve. And I can tell you that summers are going to get hotter whether we had flaring or we had cars because the Earth is evolving.” Wind and solar power, he maintained, are more environmentally harmful than fossil fuels.

According to the congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment, human activity accounts for all of the warming over the last 50 years, when the majority of changes occurred. Mr. Wright did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Bloomberg ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination last year and has spent millions of dollars to shutter coal plants across the country. In a statement, he called Ms. Castañeda a “champion” for Texas.





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