Election 2020 live updates: Melania’s cough keeps her off campaign trail Tuesday

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yorkfoto/iStock

By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — With 14 days to go until Election Day, and President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden racing toward Nov. 3, voters are turning out in record numbers to cast their ballots early.

Roughly 31 million Americans have already voted in the 2020 election, reflecting an extraordinary level of participation and interest despite unprecedented barriers brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the final weeks of campaigning, the president remains on defense as his approval rating drags. He’s hosting rallies this week mostly in states he won in 2016 including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia.

Biden, maintaining a nationwide lead in polls — his largest lead of the election, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average — has no public events on his schedule this week so far ahead of Thursday’s final presidential debate with Trump. Staying off the trail ahead of debates is a pattern for the former vice president.

Polls indicate a huge pre-Election-Day edge for Biden and a sizable Trump advantage among those who plan to vote on Nov. 3 itself. Trump has sowed doubt in the mail-in ballot process — and imminent election results — for months.

The rhetoric between candidates is expected to heat up ahead of their second and final showdown in Nashville.

All 50 states plus Washington, D.C., currently have some form of early voting underway. Check out FiveThirtyEight’s guide to voting during the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Here is how the day is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Oct 20, 5:20 pm
Trump to campaign in Pennsylvania without Melania

Struggling in the polls in battleground Pennsylvania and targeting the votes of suburban women, Trump had hoped for an assist from his wife Melania Trump at a rally this evening, but a “lingering cough” from her recent bout with the coronavirus scuttled the plan, according to the first lady’s spokeswoman.

Instead, the president will make the trip to the northeastern Pennsylvania city of Erie without her, part of an attempt to defend his narrow win in Pennsylvania in 2016. Fewer than 2,000 votes separated him from his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Four years earlier, then-President Barack Obama won the state by nearly 17%.

Recent polls have shown former Biden with a clear lead in Pennsylvania. In a Quinnipiac poll released Oct. 7, the Democratic nominee led by 13% among likely voters. A poll from Monmouth University published the day prior showed a similar lead, with Biden up 12% among registered voters. FiveThirtyEight’s Pennsylvania polling average shows Biden leading by 6.4%.

-ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps and Ben Gittleson

Oct 20, 4:50 pm
Biden tests negative for COVID-19

Biden underwent testing for COVID-19 today and tested negative, his campaign said.

This is Biden’s twelfth negative test the campaign has announced since Trump tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Oct 20, 4:37 pm
Former Trump fundraiser pleads guilty to illegal lobbying

Former Republican National Committee finance co-chair and top Trump campaign fundraiser Elliott Broidy pleaded guilty today to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws.

Prosecutors said during the plea hearing Broidy agreed to take an $8 million retainer from Jho Low, a Malaysian fugitive, in exchange for asking the administration to drop its investigation into the theft of billions from a Malaysian government investment fund. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful.

Broidy must forfeit $6 million dollars as part of the plea agreement.

-ABC News’ Aaron Katersky

Oct 20, 4:23 pm
Florida’s Latino voters being bombarded with right-wing misinformation, advocates say

Misinformation and conspiracy theories swirling around the 2020 presidential race are reaching an “alarming” number of Latino voters in Florida through Spanish language social media sites, advocacy groups and elected officials said.

The experts voiced concern that the barrage of misleading messages about Biden and the coronavirus, often containing right-wing conspiracy theories, could swing the vote in the state, where Latinos account for 17% of registered voters, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Florida state government data.

Advocates pointed to Republicans and Trump as some of the sources of disinformation flooding Latinos’ social media feeds, but the full picture regarding the origins of the information was not immediately clear.

-ABC News’ Laura Romero

Oct 20, 3:43 pm
Harris tests negative for COVID-19

Harris underwent testing for COVID-19 today and tested negative, a Harris aide said.

The Biden-Harris campaign has announced the results of the candidates’ COVID-19 tests since Trump tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

Harris, who turns 56 today, has a virtual rally this afternoon to kick off the first day of voting in Wisconsin.

-ABC News’ Averi Harper

Oct 20, 12:48 pm
FLOTUS no longer traveling with POTUS to Pennsylvania, spokeswoman cites lingering cough

First lady Melania Trump is no longer traveling with the president to Pennsylvania Tuesday, with her office citing a “lingering cough.”

“Mrs. Trump continues to feel better every day following her recovery from COVID-19, but with a lingering cough, and out of an abundance of caution, she will not be traveling today,” the first lady’s chief of staff and spokesperson Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Tuesday’s campaign visit to Pennsylvania was supposed to have been the first lady’s first public appearance after contracting COVID-19.

-ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps


Oct 20, 12:30 pm
USPS concerned about safety of personnel

The United States Postal Inspection Service, the law-enforcement arm of the Postal Service, this month issued a bulletin to local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies around the country warning them to be mindful of threats to postal workers and the mail because of the controversy surrounding mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election.

“The intense media focus and public awareness surrounding these mail-in ballots could potentially make USPS employees and vehicle a tempting target for criminal activities,” the one-page Oct. 7 bulletin said. It goes on to list a series of possible threats including assaults of USPS personnel and general mail theft, among other concerns.

The bulletin comes as the president continues to sow doubt in the integrity of the mail-in ballot process.

-ABC News’ Josh Margolin

Oct 20, 12:16 pm
Harris’ connection to Caribbean voters could make difference in Florida

When Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., took part in an interview on a South Florida radio show called “Caribbean Riddims,” she sprinkled the Jamaican phrase “ya mon” throughout the interview with a heavy hand.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants and playing up her Jamaican heritage is a huge part of the Biden-Harris campaign’s outreach to Afro-Caribbean voters in the Sunshine State.

The voting bloc is significant in Florida, especially in South Florida and along the critical I-4 corridor, a bellwether in this battleground state. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 41% of the nation’s 4.4 million Caribbean immigrants live in Florida, and Miami-Dade County has the highest number of Caribbean immigrants in the U.S. with 862,000 Caribbean immigrants calling it home. If the campaign’s outreach to this community is successful, it could help turn the state into an electoral victory for Biden and Harris.

-ABC News’ Averi Harper


Oct 20, 11:38 am
Obama to hold drive-in rally for Biden in Philadelphia Wednesday

Former President Barack Obama is hitting the campaign trail for Biden with his first in-person event — a drive-in car rally in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

While Obama has participated in several fundraisers on behalf of Biden’s campaign and gave a prime time speech during the Democratic National Convention in August — in which he excoriated Trump over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and extolled Biden’s leadership — his trip to Philadelphia marks a new phase of his advocacy for the Democratic ticket.

In choosing Pennsylvania, Biden’s team is also signaling how critical it thinks the Keystone State will be to unseating Trump, who carried it by just under 45,000 votes in 2016.

-ABC News’ Johnny Verhovek


Oct 20, 11:25 am
Biden campaign launches 6 new Spanish and bilingual ads in key battleground states

The Biden campaign is continuing to target Hispanic and Latino voters in the final two weeks until Election Day, launching four new television ads in several states and two new digital Spanish and bilingual ads in an effort to combat attacks the Trump campaign is launching against him.

Targeting Latino populations in key battleground states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin, the campaign will hit on several different issues in the four TV ads including Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Oct 20, 10:05 am
Trump slams debate changes ahead of Thursday showdown

Reacting to the Commission on Presidential Debates saying it would mute the candidates’ microphones during their opponent’s initial responses at Thursday’s debate, Trump said “the whole thing is crazy” and went on to criticize the moderator, Kristen Welker.

In a wide-ranging interview with “Fox and Friends” this morning, Trump explained what he sees as the advantage in interrupting Biden constantly versus letting him talk.

“When somebody stands there and he lies, lies, lies, I like to challenge it at the time, because you don’t have time to go back,” Trump said. But, he added, he had heard from others it could be good to let Biden speak. “They said if you let him talk, he’ll lose his chain of thought because he’s gonzo.”

On the topics chosen, Trump echoed his campaign manager’s insistence that the debate should be about foreign policy, even though the Commission on Presidential Debates and the candidates had agreed months ago the topics would be left up to the moderator.

“This was supposed to be a foreign policy debate, and now all of a sudden we’re talking about things that are not foreign policy. And, frankly, it was a change that they made that was far bigger than the mute button, I mean, frankly. But they made a change, and it shouldn’t have happened,” Trump said.

Asked if he was nervous about the debate, Trump said, “No, I’m not nervous.”

Trump headlines a Sinclair Town Hall event in the Rose Garden this afternoon before departing with the first lady for a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, this evening. He’s said his exchanges with reporters will serve as his debate prep.

Biden, meanwhile, has hunkered down in Wilmington, Delaware, for debate prep ahead of Thursday, similar to what he’s done before previous debates.

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson


Oct 20, 10:00 am
Early voting breaks records in Florida

Voters in Florida weathered downpours that swept across a big portion of the state Monday and still managed to shatter the state’s opening-day record for in-person early voting, with at least 350,000 people casting ballots. But some Florida voters faced hurdles that election officials had pledged would not be an issue.

The Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office website suffered a technical issue that prevented some users from accessing the site for several hours. Danae Rivera-Marasco, communications and community outreach coordinator, told ABC News that while it took two to three hours to resolve the issue for the majority of users, some trying to access the website via an AT&T connection were still unable to access it in the evening.

The election office said the issue was “not due to traffic or hacking” and said there hadn’t been a security breach.

In Broward County, voters reported waiting in lines for hours, just days after a spokesman for the county’s supervisor of elections told ABC News he did not expect to see lines at polling sites.

“We rarely have lines during early voting as it is, so this is likely to be even less, simply because of the fact that so many voters are now voting from the kitchen table,” said Steve Vancore, the Broward County elections spokesman, over the weekend.

One voter in Miramar, Florida, told ABC News she waited for close to three hours to vote. In a text, Vancore attributed the back-up there to voter enthusiasm and social distancing.

-ABC News’ Will McDuffie


Oct 20, 9:44 am
With coronavirus concerns a factor, it’s all tied up in North Carolina: Poll

Coronavirus concerns lift Biden in North Carolina while the state’s sizable evangelical and rural populations pull for Trump, producing a dead-heat contest in a state that’s backed Democratic presidential candidates just twice in the last half century.

The presidential race differs from the contest nationally — an ABC/Post poll last week found a 12-point Biden lead — in large part given differing demographics. Most notably, evangelical white Protestants account for 31% of likely voters in North Carolina, compared with 15% nationally. White evangelicals in the state support Trump over Biden by 82-17%.

Rural voters also are part of the difference in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates; they account for 21% of likely voters nationally but 28% in the state, and back Trump by nearly 2-1, 63-33%. So, too, are very conservative likely voters — 16% nationally but 24% in North Carolina, nearly all for Trump.

Biden pushes back with a 34-point lead among moderate voters, 64-30%, surpassing Hillary Clinton’s 20-point win in this group in 2016; a 68-30% lead in the state’s political, academic and technology hub, the Raleigh-Durham area; and 60-38% among college graduates — the widest Democratic advantage in this group in exit polls since 1988.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables here.


-ABC News’ Polling Director Gary Langer


Oct 20, 8:56 am
Early voting by the numbers

With two weeks to go until Election Day, at least 31 million votes have been cast in the 2020 general election as early voting data continues to hit record numbers across the nation.

According to the United States Elections Project, spearheaded by University of Florida political expert Michael McDonald, an unprecedented 31,677,305 voters have already voted and at least 83,196,705 ballots have been requested in early voting states.

Texas has the most votes already cast with roughly four million. California follows the lead with roughly 3.5 million absentee ballots cast.

At this time in 2016, 5.6 million votes had been cast nationwide.

The large early voting numbers are a factor of the coronavirus pandemic as well as an increase in voter interest. Voters are more eager to cast a ballot ahead of Election Day where polling sites could be viewed as overcrowded during pandemic standards.

In-person early voting begins Tuesday in Hawaii, Louisiana and Utah.

-ABC News’ Kelsey Walsh

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