Trump holds first rally since Covid diagnosis, as Senate opens bitter hearings on court pick – live

Trump holds first rally since Covid diagnosis, as Senate opens bitter hearings on court pick – live

21:59

Summary

A recap from me and Joan E Greve:

  • Donald Trump held his first rally since contracting Covid-19. Lagging in the polls, he was eager to appear healthy as he downplayed the severity of the pandemic and returned to classic stump talking points about the border wall and unfriendly media.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci said holding large rallies is “asking for trouble”. In an interview with CNN, he also reiterated that “it’s really unfortunate and really disappointing” that the Trump campaign took his words out of context in a campaign ad.
  • Joe Biden was on the offense, campaigning in red-state Ohio. The Democratic nominee spoke harshly of Trump’s response to the virus and his handling of his own infection. The former vice-president also accused Republicans of hypocrisy as they sought to portray Democrats as anti-religious during the supreme court hearings for the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.
  • The Senate judiciary committee held the first day of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings. The supreme court nominee and every member of the committee delivered an opening statement. Questioning of Barrett begins tomorrow.
  • Barrett emphasized judges should not try to legislate from the bench in her opening statement. “Courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” Barrett said. “The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people.”
  • Senate Republicans accused their Democratic colleagues of attacking Barrett’s Catholic faith, even though Democrats did not mention her faith. Instead, Democrats used their opening statements to warn that Barrett’s confirmation to the supreme court could jeopardize the Affordable Care Act.
  • Kamala Harris argued the Senate should postpone Barrett’s hearings and focus on passing another coronavirus relief bill. Delivering an opening statement virtually from her Senate office, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee said, “Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a supreme court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and economic crisis.”

Updated

21:23

Joan E Greve

Deeper look: Biden campaigns in red state Ohio

Joe Biden’s campaign went on a fresh offense against the Trump administration on Monday, campaigning in a red state and accusing Republicans of hypocrisy as they sought to portray Democrats as anti-religious during the supreme court hearings for the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.

Biden campaigned in Ohio, attempting to expand the battleground map and keep Trump on the defensive in a state thought to be out of reach for Democrats after Trump’s wide margin of victory there four years ago.

A slew of recent polls has had the Democratic challenger leading Trump in national polls, often by double digits. Likewise, many battleground state surveys, though often narrower than the national picture, have Biden with healthy leads. The situation has led several top Republicans to make rare public warnings of losing the White House – and maybe even Republicans losing the Senate.

On the campaign trail Biden stressed an economic message and touted his own record while casting Trump as having abandoned working-class voters who helped him win rust belt states that put him in the White House in 2016.

In Toledo, Biden addressed United Auto Workers who represent a local General Motors’ powertrain plant. The former vice-president spoke in a parking lot with about 30 American-made cars and trucks arrayed nearby, and he struck a decidedly populist note, praising unions and arguing that he represented working-class values while the Republican Trump cared only about impressing the Ivy League and country club set.

“I don’t measure people by the size of their bank account,” Biden said. “You and I measure people by the strength of their character, their honesty, their courage.”

20:46

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign has hit back against Trump’s characterization of Biden as old and frail …

After 74-year-old Trump told his ralliers, “I am not an old person, I am a young person,” and made references to his 77-year-old opponent’s choice to broadcast campaign events from his “basement”, among the Biden’s campaign’s responses were celebrations of the former vice-president’s relative mastery of walking up and down inclines.

Mike Gwin
(@MichaelJGwin)

https://t.co/kQzttvt1Q7 pic.twitter.com/PvVe6twk7Z

October 13, 2020

Updated

20:38

Trump spoke for about 65 minutes – a bit shy of the usual hour and a half he normally takes up at his campaign rallies.

With just weeks to go before election day, and early voting underway, Trump has been eager to return to a full schedule of in-person rallies as he scrambles to hold on to his slipping supporters. Polls have his Democratic opponent Joe Biden ahead by an average 12 points, in polls taken since 1 October. Trump is also losing support from seniors, who are the most vulnerable in a pandemic that has already killed more than 214,000 Americans.

In a frenetic push to solidify support, Trump and his campaign have sought to downplay the threat of coronavirus. The president’s own demonstrations of reckless, maskless bravado appears to be key to that strategy, as Trump characterizes his opponent as frail and confined to his basement.

Updated

20:03

As Donald Trump declared himself “immune” at his Florida rally, a new case study published in The Lancet revealed a 25-year-old man in Nevada was infected with coronavirus twice this year.

This is the first confirmed case of reinfection in the US. The two infections in this one patient occurred six weeks apart.

Reinfections are rare – there are only five such cases documented worldwide. But much is still unknown about how or why this happens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advises that those who have recovered from Covid-19 generally appear to be protected from reinfection for three months – but this newly documented case bucks that expectation.

Updated

19:33

“You better vote for me Puerto Rico. You better vote for me,” Trump said.

Residents of Puerto Rico and other US territories are not entitled to vote for president in federal elections, though Puerto Ricans living in US states can vote for president (and Florida is home to hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans).

The territory’s Republican governor Wanda Vázquez Garced recently endorsed Trump.

Updated

19:21

Boasting about his recovery, Trump claimed he is “immune” to the virus now. “I feel powerful,” he said. “I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women and everybody – I’ll give a big, fat kiss.”

The president has been eager to appear energetic after a recent hospitalization following his Covid-19 diagnosis, repeatedly boasting that he’s “young” at 74 and even claiming, on Fox News that he is a “perfect physical specimen”.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that those with mild or moderate coronavirus infections can return to being around others after 10 days, the research on whether or not people can get reinfected is still ongoing.

Updated

19:09

Biden and Trump hold very different campaign events

Audience members observe a social distance while listening to Biden deliver remarks at a Voter Mobilization Event campaign stop at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati.

Audience members observe a social distance while listening to Biden deliver remarks at a Voter Mobilization Event campaign stop at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati. Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters

In Cincinnati, earlier today, Biden addressed a socially distanced, sparse group. He took aim at the president’s comments downplaying the severity of the pandemic and emphasized his plans.

“I have a plan to deal with this pandemic responsibly,” Biden said. “Testing, tracing, masking, not politicizing the race for the vaccine. Plan for its safe and equitable distribution. Provide the funding for PPE and other resources for schools and businesses to reopen safely.”


Joe Biden in Ohio: Trump ‘turned his back on you’ – video

Biden is leading Trump by 10 percentage points nationally, per an average of national polls.

Updated

19:04

Trump takes stage at packed rally

“We’re winning by a lot more now than we were four years ago,” Trump said. “We’re going to win four more years in the White House.”

A packed crowd of supporters standing shoulder to shoulder chanted “USA” in response.

Updated

18:43

If no other GOP senators end up exposed to coronavirus, the party may be on track to vote on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination by the 22.

CNN’s Manu Raju reports that North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, who delivered his opening statement remotely after testing positive for Covid-19 is expected to return to the Senate tomorrow.

Manu Raju
(@mkraju)

GOP on track for confirmation of Barrett by month’s end. Tillis, who tested positive earlier this month, is expected back tomorrow, per an aide. With Lee and Tillis back, GOP should have quorum for Thursday when Graham has scheduled a business meeting. Committee will vote Oct. 22

October 12, 2020

Mike Lee, the Republican senator of Utah, showed up and spoke during the first day of hearings without a mask, despite his recent Covid-19 diagnosis.

Updated

18:34

David Smith

Analysis: Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing kicks off with hypocrisy and healthcare

That was rich. Senate Republicans, otherwise known as Donald Trump’s Praetorian Guard, lined up on Monday to pay pious homage to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the separation of powers and the halcyon days of political bipartisanship.

A visitor from outer space might have thought that they were the upholders of civics and civility at the start of Amy Coney Barrett’s supreme court hearing on Capitol Hill. No matter that Trump has played divider-in-chief or that Republicans blocked Barack Obama’s nominee to the court in 2016.

It was a morning of hypocrisy and healthcare.

Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee and the Trump appreciation society, reminded everyone that both Ginsburg and her ideological opposite, Justice Antonin Scalia, were confirmed almost unanimously.

“I don’t know what happened between then and now,” he said, wistfully. “We can all take some blame but I just want to remind everybody there was a time in this country where someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg was seen by almost everybody as qualified for the position of being on the supreme court, understanding that she would have a different philosophy than many of the Republicans who voted for her.”

No justice has been confirmed so close to a presidential election. Graham, who promised not to confirm one in an election year (saying “Use my words against me”, which plenty of Democrats are), acknowledged a point everyone could agree on: “This is going to be a long, contentious week.”

As senator after senator drew their battle lines, 48-year-old Barrett, sitting silently in a big black face mask, resembled a prisoner in the dock.

Republicans sought to normalise her rushed nomination, arguing the Senate was merely doing its duty while setting up straw men: Democrats want to attack her Catholic faith (none did), Democrats want to play foul as they did with Brett Kavanaugh (hardly), Democrats want to expand the court (objection: relevance), Democrats want to conflate the judiciary with policy (true).

18:18

Trump returns to campaigning as usual, rallying with a packed Florida crowd

The president is en route to Florida, where a massive crowd of his supporters await. Per the White House press pool, the president was not wearing a mask when he boarded Air Force One, nor are most in the crowd that anticipates him.

Supporters cheer for speakers at a campaign rally prior to the arrival President Donald Trump at the Orlando Sanford International Airport Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Supporters cheer for speakers at a campaign rally prior to the arrival President Donald Trump at the Orlando Sanford International Airport Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) Photograph: John Raoux/AP

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that the highest risk events during the pandemic are “large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area” – which more or less describes a rally.

Although the campaign event is held outside, where the virus is less likely to spread – attendees lack of social distancing and masking don’t bode well.

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