Approximately 1,200 miles separated Donald Trump from Joe Biden on Thursday night, as they appeared simultaneously at televised town halls in Miami and Philadelphia respectively. But in their demeanour and in the details the candidates remain worlds apart.
As ever, it was Trump who made for the most dramatic headlines, but Biden who offered thoughtful, if occasionally wonky answers to questions on policy – though the Democrat did at last admit he was open to the possibility of court-packing.
The NBC host Savannah Guthrie was hailed by Trump’s critics and criticised by his allies for her combative exchanges with the president, including comparing him to a “crazy uncle” for retweeting a wild and false conspiracy theory. “The president perched awkwardly on a stool, sweating under studio lights, and rambled feverishly,” writes David Smith:
Biden, by contrast, looked relaxed in a white armchair like a grandfather with pipe, slippers and twinkle in his eye.
- Trump refused to disavow QAnon, claiming he knew nothing of the baseless conspiracy theory that a cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats, celebrities and billionaires runs the world while engaging in pedophilia, human trafficking and the harvesting of a supposedly life-extending chemical from the blood of abused children.
How the Biden campaign handled its Covid-19 infection
In yet another example of the stark contrast between the two candidates, Biden’s campaign on Thursday responded to news of a coronavirus infection among its staff with transparency, detail and extreme caution.
First, his running mate, Kamala Harris, canceled her travel for the coming days after her communications director tested positive for Covid. Then it emerged that Biden had shared a flight with a crew member who tested positive – though the Democratic nominee “did not even have passing contact” with the person in question, Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon, stressed in a lengthy statement.
- Dr Anthony Fauci has urged Americans to rethink their Thanksgiving plans and avoid family gatherings amid a fresh surge in coronavirus cases. On Thursday, the president again attacked his administration’s top coronavirus expert, who recently objected to featuring in a Trump campaign ad.
This Trump ally says she believes a QAnon conspiracy theory
Trump might deny all knowledge of QAnon conspiracy theories, but some of his Republican allies are not quite so shy. Though she too claimed not to know anything about QAnon, the Atlanta congressional candidate Angela Stanton King told the Guardian she believed a debunked claim that Wayfair, the online furniture retailer, was secretly selling trafficked children over the internet as part of a deep-state plot.
King was being interviewed on camera by our southern US bureau chief, Oliver Laughland, as part of his latest film in the Anywhere But Washington series, which focuses on the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement in Georgia.
- Facebook is to ban QAnon-themed groups, pages and accounts as the social media firm escalates a crackdown on the baseless and potentially dangerous conspiracy theory that has thrived on its platform.
Kidnappings, car chases and at least one murder all appear to have been inspired by QAnon in the past two years, according to Lois Beckett’s timeline of the violence associated with the movement.
We’re tracking mail-in ballots in critical states
An unprecedented number of Americans are voting by mail this year, to avoid the risk of Covid. But mail-in voting carries other risks, such as Trump’s continuing attempts to cast doubt on the mail-in voting process, and to pave the way for a legal battle over the final count.
That’s why the Guardian has partnered with ProPublica to keep track of the votes in politically competitive states, and to determine how many are being counted, rejected and delayed. Check out our mail-in ballot tracker here.
In other election news…
- Mitch McConnell says he has the votes to put Amy Coney Barrett on the US supreme court, after four days of confirmation hearings by the Senate judiciary committee, which is scheduled to vote next Thursday on advancing her nomination to a full senate ballot.
The US agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, has been accused of violating the Hatch Act, which supposedly bars federal officials from certain forms of political activity, after he led a chant of “four more years” at an event with Trump in August.
Twitter has partially changed its policy on hacked material after a backlash over its handling of a New York Post story based on information supposedly sourced from a laptop owned by Hunter Biden.
Stat of the day
With Congress and the White House still in a stalemate over a new coronavirus stimulus package, two new studies show that at least 6 million more people in the US have been pushed into poverty as a result of the pandemic and its economic fallout.
View from the right
Twitter and Facebook’s decision to limit sharing of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story shows that the big tech firms are policing online content to the benefit of Democrats, says the Washington Examiner.
That Twitter should block a news article from being shared even in private messages is an astounding overreach, and a clear sign (as if more were needed) that the company is a partisan actor not committed to fair play or a clear policy.
Don’t miss this
Manufacturing workers in several midwestern states feel abandoned and betrayed by a president who never delivered on his 2016 promise to bring jobs back to their factories, finds Michael Sainato. Yet in Minnesota mining country, reports Chris McGreal, a group of smalltown mayors say they have turned to Trump because Democrats stopped advocating for workers.
Last Thing: Rudy’s daughter is voting for Joe
Rudy Giuliani’s daughter, Caroline, has endorsed Joe Biden for president in an essay for Vanity Fair, describing the administration of her father’s most famous legal client as “toxic”.
If being the daughter of a polarizing mayor who became the president’s personal bulldog has taught me anything, it is that corruption starts with “yes-men” and women, the cronies who create an echo chamber of lies and subservience to maintain their proximity to power.
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