Trump, Biden compete in Midwest battlegrounds

Trump, Biden compete in Midwest battlegrounds

Trump asked supporters to watch the polls. How states are countering fears of intimidation.

President Donald Trump’s campaign appears to be using volunteers to try and prove voter fraud while simultaneously asking courts to OK further restrictions in the key presidential battleground of Pennsylvania where Joe Biden narrowly leads, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office said Thursday.

Shapiro, a Democrat, is investigating multiple “disturbances” between these Trump campaign volunteers and voters who were filmed or photographed dropping off absentee ballots, according to the communications director, Jacklin Rhoads.

She said the images have popped up in lawsuits the Trump campaign has brought to tighten voting laws, without much success, while The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the campaign has been using such footage to pressure election officials into policy changes.

Early incidents like the ones Shapiro’s office is investigating have raised alarm about “poll watchers” — the official, party-sanctioned kind, or simply people showing up to places where voting is taking place — in part because of the president’s frequent and false claims of widespread voter fraud and repeated calls for his supporters to “watch the polls” and stop it.

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QAnon becomes an issue in tossup Utah House race

The conspiracy theory QAnon bubbled into the forefront in a competitive race for a suburban Utah swing congressional district this week, another sign of how the baseless theory has diffused into mainstream politics.

Republican Burgess Owens has now come under scrutiny three times for media appearances related to QAnon, but it hasn’t stopped him from becoming a serious threat to first-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams.

Owens has called the idea that he believes in QAnon “silly,” and says appearances on online programs supporting QAnon programs are just part of his effort to get his conservative message out.

More than two dozen congressional candidates have endorsed or given credence to QAnon, according to a tally by the liberal-leaning Media Matters. QAnon followers embrace the baseless belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state,” an alleged secret network within the government, and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals.

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Stores and businesses hire extra security, board up windows fearing Election Day unrest

After a spring of lockdowns and a summer of protests, storefront businesses across the country are girding for a potential wave of social unrest related to the election.

Ulta Beauty, whose stores were damaged in protests of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in May, told NBC News that it is boarding up stores, closing early and hiring overnight security guards in certain locations.

Nordstrom said it is monitoring for any activity that might threaten employee or store security, and plans to close early on Election Day. In Chicago, several businesses along the Michigan Avenue shopping district have already boarded up their windows.

Walmart, which said this week it would remove all guns and ammunition from its sales floors as a precaution, announced Friday it was reversing that decision.

Leading up to the election, President Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that he will refuse to participate in a peaceful transition of power in the event he loses to former Vice President Joe Biden. In a Friday tweet, Trump suggested that the only way Biden could become president would be if the Supreme Court intervened to “make such a ridiculous win possible.”

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Poll: Biden leads Trump by six in North Carolina

Joe Biden speaks at the Black Economic Summit in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 23, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP – Getty Images

Joe Biden holds a modest six-point lead with likely voters over President Donald Trump in the hard-fought swing state of North Carolina, a new NBC/Marist poll shows.

Among likely voters, Biden’s support stands at 52 percent, compared to 46 percent for the incumbent president. (Among all registered voters in the state, the former vice president’s lead is similar, at 51 percent to Trump’s 46 percent.)

Biden’s edge is within the poll’s margin of error of +/-4.7 percentage points for likely voters and +/-4.1 percentage points for registered voters. (A +/-4.7 margin of error means that pollsters believe each candidate’s actual vote percentage could be as much as 4.7 percentage points higher or lower).

The poll also shows a 10-point advantage for Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham, who hopes to oust first-term GOP incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis.

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Texas breaks turnout records as more than 9 million cast ballots before Election Day

Everything is bigger in Texas — including voter turnout this year.

The Lone Star State, a traditional Republican stronghold that is rapidly turning into an electoral battleground, has smashed turnout records as of Friday morning. The number of early in-person and mail-in ballots surpassed the total number of votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.

The Texas Secretary of State’s office reported that 9,009,850 people cast their ballots in-person, by mail or via dropboxes during the state’s early voting period, which began Oct. 13 and ends Friday. That amounts to 53.14 percent turnout among registered voters in just early voting.

Four years ago, a record-shattering 8,969,226 people in Texas voted, according to the state’s records — which amounted to 59.39 percent turnout. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by nearly nine points, 52.23 percent to 43.24 percent.

This year’s surge is coming partly in counties that have historically voted for Democrats.

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In a first, ICE agents are poised to respond to potential Election Day unrest

Federal officers use chemical irritants and projectiles to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters near the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 24, 2020.Noah Berger / AP

Department of Homeland Security agents, including those from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, have been told to be ready to protect federal property in Washington if there is unrest on or after Election Day, two DHS officials told NBC News.

The agency is regularly tasked with providing additional security around the nation’s capital on inauguration days, but has never stepped in to quell unrest on Election Day. The unprecedented step is in response to nationwide protests and attacks on federal property seen this year, the officials said.

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GOP Sen. Perdue drops out of final debate amid tight race against challenger Ossoff

The final debate between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, scheduled for Sunday, has been canceled after Perdue dropped out to attend a campaign rally.

Polls show a tight race between the two candidates heading into the final days of the campaign.

Perdue’s communications director John Burke said in a statement shared on Twitter that Perdue would instead join President Donald Trump at an expected rally.

“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,” Burke said.

Ossoff fired back in a statement: “Senator Perdue’s cowardly withdrawal from our final debate says it all: David Perdue feels entitled to his office, and he’ll do anything to avoid accountability for his blatant corruption and his total failure during this unprecedented health crisis.”

The move comes after a contentious debate Wednesday night in which Perdue repeatedly accused Ossoff of backing radical, socialist policies while the Democrat slammed the incumbent’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and GOP efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Ossoff also called the senator a “crook” in an exchange that went viral.

Taylor Swift allows Dems to use her song ‘Only the Young’ in closing-argument ad

Taylor Swift is allowing Democrats to use her song “Only the Young” for a closing-argument ad ahead of Election Day on Tuesday. It’s the first time Swift has licensed a song for free.

“Why are so many powerful people making it so difficult for us to vote?” Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Biden’s vice presidential nominee, says at the beginning of the nearly 2-minute-long ad. 

The ad then shows a montage of video clips spliced together that features footage from Trump removing his mask after he returning to the White House from the hospital with Covid-19, to people sick with the disease in a hospital. It shows footage of wildfires, Justice Amy Coney Barrett being sworn in and Americans dancing in line at the polls as they waited to cast their ballots early in recent weeks, among other things.

Swift has endorsed Biden.

National security adviser O’Brien jockeys for future spot in a second Trump administration

WASHINGTON — National security adviser Robert O’Brien was just a few months into his new job when he asked aides to print him copies of two transcripts.

One was of O’Brien’s remarks at a foreign policy forum, where he’d offered a glowing review of what it’s like to work for President Donald Trump. The other was of Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s comments at the same forum, where he said Trump is “just one of many bosses I’ve had” who “you learn to work with.”

O’Brien wanted to present Trump with a side-by-side comparison of his and Esper’s comments so he could tell the president “look at how much more supportive I am,” a senior administration official with direct knowledge of O’Brien’s request said.

“It was really strange,” a second official with direct knowledge of the request said, and O’Brien ultimately took Trump only his own remarks.

The episode encapsulates a theme that more than two dozen current and former senior administration officials, U.S. lawmakers and American and European diplomats told NBC News has run through O’Brien’s 13 months as national security adviser: his concern about his future and standing with Trump.

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Trump adviser Stephen Miller reveals aggressive second-term immigration agenda

Senior advisor Stephen Miller attends a working dinner hosted by President Donald Trump for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico at the White House on July 8, 2020.Anna Moneymaker / Pool via Getty Images file

President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller has fleshed out plans to rev up Trump’s restrictive immigration agenda if he wins re-election next week, offering a stark contrast to the platform of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

In a 30-minute phone interview Thursday with NBC News, Miller outlined four major priorities: limiting asylum grants, punishing and outlawing so-called sanctuary cities, expanding the so-called travel ban with tougher screening for visa applicants and slapping new limits on work visas.

The objective, he said, is “raising and enhancing the standard for entry” to the United States.

Some of the plans would require legislation. Others could be achieved through executive action, which the Trump administration has relied on heavily in the absence of a major immigration bill.

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