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Trump has decided to select Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court

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President Donald Trump has decided to select Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to two sources familiar with the process.

A formal announcement is slated for Saturday at the White House.

If confirmed, Barrett, 48, a federal appeals court judge who has been reliably conservative on issues like abortion, would be the youngest justice on the high court. Her presence would also cement a conservative majority, as she replaces one of the court’s most outspoken liberals.

Before joining the appeals court, Barrett worked briefly in private practice then taught for 15 years at Notre Dame law school, where she earned her law degree.

A devout Catholic, she has the backing of evangelicals who consider her a likely vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

Although she was not on the original list of potential Supreme Court nominees released during the Trump campaign, she was added shortly after taking a place on the appeals court bench. Trump considered her to succeed Anthony Kennedy two years ago before settling on Brett Kavanaugh.

Barrett had clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump was asked by reporters on Friday night if he had made a choice.

“I’ll be announcing it tomorrow, my decision,” he said. “In my own mind, I have, and I’ll be announcing the decision tomorrow. It’s very exciting.”

He was then asked about Barrett and said, “Well, she’s outstanding.”

Barrett was seen entering her South Bend, Indiana, home Friday evening, while Trump told a rally audience in Virginia a short time later that the nominee “hopefully will be on that court for 50 years.”

The president had pledged to nominate a woman to fill the vacancy created by the death last week of Ginsburg, and in recent days has said he was considering five finalists from a broader list his campaign released earlier month. However, sources have told NBC News that Trump had focused his attention on two possibilities: Barrett and Judge Barbara Lagoa.

Lagoa, 52, was appointed by Trump to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year. A Miami native, Lagoa was the first Latina and first Cuban American to serve as a justice on the Florida Supreme Court.

Trump said he wants the GOP-controlled Senate to hold a confirmation vote for the nominee before the Nov. 3 election, but it is unclear if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will follow that timeline because some senators facing tough re-election bids could benefit from a vote after the election, sources told NBC News.

The Senate would have less than 40 days before the election to confirm Trump’s nominee — a speedy schedule by recent standards, although not unprecedented.

McConnell, for his part, has vowed to hold a vote but he has not specified whether he would try to have it before the election or after during a lame-duck Senate session.

McConnell said earlier this week he’d proceed with a vote when the nominee emerges from the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The Judiciary Committee is aiming to hold hearings to advance a nominee the week of Oct. 12.

That has angered Democrats, who accused Republicans of hypocrisy, citing their decision in 2016 to not give Merrick Garland, then-President Barack Obama’s choice for the high court vacancy created by Scalia’s death, a confirmation hearing because they said it was an election year.

Top Senate Democrats have said a new justice should not be confirmed until after the next president is sworn in — but there’s not much they can do to stop Trump’s nomination from moving forward.



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Ratcliffe says no proof foreign actors tied to ‘Biden’ laptop, but officials say FBI is probing

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The first Post story highlighted what it called a “smoking gun email” that suggested a meeting between Biden and a representative of a Ukrainian company that once paid Hunter Biden. The Biden campaign denies that the meeting happened, and the story was greeted with widespread skepticism.

George Mesires, attorney for Hunter Biden, said in a statement, “We have no idea where this came from, and certainly cannot credit anything that Rudy Giuliani provided to the New York Post, but what I do know for certain is that this purported meeting never happened.”

Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said, “We have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.”

Since the stories have been published, conspiracy web sites have promulgated allegations that the laptop materials link Hunter Biden to criminal behavior. None of the allegations have been substantiated.

Questions have swirled around the Post’s account of how it obtained the emails and other materials. The newspaper said they were found on a laptop left in a Delaware repair shop in April 2019 and never claimed. The repair shop owner then took it upon himself to access the private material, the Post said.

The Post said the shop owner, who has been identified as John Paul Mac Isaac, called the FBI, and also called a Giuliani associate. The shop owner said he believed the laptop was among equipment left by Hunter Biden, because a sticker on the laptop bore the name of the Beau Biden Foundation, a charity named after his late brother.

“Before turning over the gear, the shop owner says, he made a copy of the hard drive and later gave it to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello,” the Post said. “Steve Bannon, former adviser to President Trump, told The Post about the existence of the hard drive in late September and Giuliani provided The Post with a copy of it on Sunday.”

It remains unclear whether the emails cited by the Post are authentic or have been doctored.

Giuliani, who acknowledged helping bring the material to light, has in the past sought to unearth information damaging to Biden with the help of a man identified by the U.S. government as a Russian intelligence officer.

Questions about the provenance of the emails led Facebook and Twitter to limit sharing of the story, prompting fierce criticism from Republicans.

In an interview published by the Daily Beast, Issac, the repair shop owner, provided shifting answers to key questions.

“Throughout the interview, Mac Isaac switched back and forth from saying he reached out to law enforcement after viewing the files in the laptop to saying that it was actually the FBI that contacted him,” the Beast wrote. NBC News has reached out to Isaac but has not heard back.

The Post published a grand jury subpoena for the laptop and hard drive. The subpoena had been issued by a federal prosecutor who already had the serial numbers of the devices when they were ordered to be handed over in early December 2019, indicating federal law enforcement was aware of the specific devices they want to examine.

“Other material extracted from the computer,” the Post said, “includes a raunchy, 12-minute video that appears to show Hunter, who’s admitted struggling with addiction problems, smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images.”

Many commentators have speculated that the material could have been hacked from Hunter Biden’s accounts and put on the laptop as a cover story to offer a plausible explanation of how the material became public.

Frank Figliuzzi, an NBC News contributor and former FBI counterintelligence chief, said it’s possible the laptop was the product of a political dirty trick by domestic actors.

“We have to be careful about saying this is absolutely a Russian operation, because there’s a sloppiness here that almost seems too sloppy for Russian intelligence,” he said.



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Biden outspent Trump in every key battleground state over past week

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WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has outspent that of President Donald Trump on television and radio ads in every key battleground state over the last seven days as the Trump re-election effort continues to fall behind the Democrat in fundraising. 

Over the last seven days, Biden outspent Trump in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin, per the latest figures from Advertising Analytics.

That’s every single state listed as a toss-up or leaning Democrat/Republican by the Cook Political Report, meaning that Biden has the TV/radio spending edge in every single one of the most competitive states. 

Biden already had the edge in an overwhelming number of battleground states, but his total supremacy on the airwaves there came this past week when the Trump campaign cut its TV spending in Georgia in half week-over-week to about $720,000. Meanwhile, the Biden campaign boosted its weekly spend in Georgia to $1.5 million over the last seven days. 

TV and radio spending don’t make up the full story. Trump’s campaign is still spending heavily on digital platforms, and if money meant everything, Trump would have lost the 2016 race to Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

But it’s the latest sign of ways in which the resource gap may be having an impact on the race — dueling announcements from the campaigns last week revealed that the effort to elect Biden significantly outraised the Trump re-elect in September, and that the pro-Biden effort entered October with $180 million more in the bank than Trump’s re-elect. 

Senate Democrats post historic fundraising totals as battle for Senate control reaches home stretch

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are riding a wave of historic third-quarter fundraising numbers into the final weeks before Election Day, even as Republicans are raising significant money of their own. 

Before this quarter, no Senate candidate had ever raised more in a single three-month quarter than former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who raised more than $38 million in the third quarter of 2018. 

But between July and September of this year, South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison raised $58 million, Maine Democrat Sara Gideon raised $39.4 million and Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly raised $38.7 million. 

U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon speaks at campaign event on Feb. 19, 2020 in Skowhegan, Maine.Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Six other Democrats — Kentucky’s Amy McGrath ($36.8 million), Iowa’s Theresa Greenfield ($28.8 million), North Carolina’s Cal Cunningham ($28.3 million), Montana’s Steve Bullock ($26.8 million), Colorado’s John Hickenlooper ($22.6 million), and Georgia’s Jon Ossoff ($21.3 million) all raised more than $20 million last quarter. 

With Harrison raising more than any other Democrat, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham outraised all other Republican Senate candidates with $28.4 million. Arizona Republican Sen. Martha McSally raised $22.7 million, Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell raised $15.7 million, Michigan Republican John James raised $14.4 million and Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines raised $11.5 million. 

It’s clear the Democrats have the fundraising edge — when looking at all the Senate races rated “likely” or more competitive by the Cook Political Report (except Georgia’s special election, where a slew of candidates are still running in a jungle primary), the average Democrat raised about $26 million last quarter compared to the average Republican’s $10.2 million. 

But as Democrats spend big, primarily on television airwaves, the average Democrat has a similar amount of money in the bank than the average Republican candidate — $9.5 million in cash on hand for the average Democrat and $7.1 million for the average Republican. 

For example, despite raising almost $58 million last quarter, Harrison’s South Carolina campaign had about $8 million in cash-on-hand, about equal with Graham. And while North Carolina’s Cunningham outraised Republican Sen. Thom Tillis by a factor of four, Tillis ended the quarter with $6.6 million in the bank to Cunningham’s $4.2 million. 

Biden camp appears to be heading into final stretch with serious cash advantage over Trump re-elect

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden’s campaign apparatus appears to have significantly outraised President Donald Trump’s re-election effort in September, according to both campaigns, with the Democrat heading into the final stretch of the presidential campaign with a massive resource advantage.

On Wednesday, the Biden campaign announced that it (along with the Democratic National Committee and its affiliated joint-fundraising committees) raised $383 million in September, ending the month with $432 million in cash on hand between them all. 

The Trump campaign tweeted Thursday that the Trump re-election apparatus (the campaign, the Republican National Committee) raised $247.8 million in September and had $251.4 million banked away. 

That means the Biden effort outraised the Trump effort by $136 million, and went into October with a more than $180 million cash advantage. Since all of these groups have to file their campaign finance reports at different times, the campaigns historically announce the top-line totals for their whole apparatus each month. So it’s unclear at this moment how much of the money raised by each side is hard money raised directly to the campaign versus how much is controlled by the national parties.

The dynamic hasn’t changed in recent months, with the Biden organization significantly outpacing Trump both in fundraising and cash-on-hand. And that’s been reflected in how they are spending their money. 

Biden’s campaign has spent $355.5 million on TV and radio ads since March 31, compared to Trump’s $201.8 million, according to data from Advertising Analytics. And the discrepancies in the battleground states have been striking. 

The Democrat has outspent Trump by about a 2-to-1 margin in Arizona and Minnesota, as well as by roughly a 3-to-1 margin in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

And the spending disparity has exacerbated down the stretch — since Labor Day, the Biden campaign has spent about $166 million in key battleground states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin), compared to Trump’s $72 million in those states. 

Biden camp taps Hollywood stars, jam bands, retired general for fundraisers

WASHINGTON — Justin Timberlake, Natalie Portman, Alanis Morissette and more are lending their star power to Joe Biden’s campaign coffers for virtual fundraisers in the closing weeks of the campaign, according to a list of invitations to the events obtained by NBC News.

Democrats have long tapped Hollywood stars for money and glitz, but the shift from in-person to virtual events during the coronavirus pandemic has made it easier for campaigns to book stars and put on more elaborate events, such as re-assembling the entire cast of a classic film for the first time ever to perform a live script read.

Meanwhile, retired four-star Gen. Stan McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan who endorsed Biden earlier this month, is hosting a virtual fundraiser with Richard Armitage, a former top State Department official under George W. Bush.

Morissette, the Canadian-American singer, will appear with the cast of the new Broadway musical based on her 1995 hit album Jagged Little Pill. The cast of “The West Wing,” a political touchstone for many liberals, will host a trivia night, while the creator and stars of Amazon’s “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” will appear together for Biden as well.

The cast of the 2001 cult-classic comedy “Wet Hot American Summer” and others — including Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pine, Jason Schwartzman and Michael Cera — will perform a live reading of the script later this month.

Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will host a virtual reception for Tennessee-based donors with Memphis-native Timberlake and actress Ashley Judd, who once considered a Senate run in neighboring Kentucky. 

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke will host an event featuring musicians Willie Nelson, David Crosby, the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and jam band Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools. Actresses Fran Drescher and Shannon Elizabeth will also appear, along with TV personality Montel Williams “and more” yet to be named.

The Biden campaign is also holding a Star Trek-themed “Trek the vote” event featuring actors from five versions of the sci-fi franchise, including Patrick Stewart, George Takei, and LeVar Burton along with three Democrats who have spoken publicly about their love of Star Trek: Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, and Stacey Abrams.

Natalie Portman will appear at food and agriculture-themed virtual event alongside former Obama White House chef and policy adviser Sam Kass and Roots drummer Questlove. Restaurateur José Andrés, who clashed with President Donald Trump over aborted plans to open a restaurant in his Washington, D.C. hotel,  will discuss Biden’s plans to help revive the restaurant industry after the pandemic. 

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr will appear with former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, who is running for Senate in Arizona.

Comedians Aasif Mandvi, Aparna Nancherla and Sendhil Ramamurthy will help host a “South Asian Block Party.” And Rita Moreno, one of the few Puerto Rican members of the cast of the original “West Side Story” film, will host a conversation with Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

The Biden campaign has been raking in money at an unprecedented clip after a slow start, which has allowed it to outspend the Trump campaign in key battlegrounds.

DNC launches new radio and print ad campaign to target Latino voters

HOUSTON — With early voting set to begin in several more key battleground states this week, the Democratic National Committee is rolling out a radio and print ad campaign aimed at boosting turnout among Latino voters for former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Latino communities across the battleground states have a critical voice in this election, that’s why we are reaching out directly to these voters and ensuring they have the tools they need to make their plan to vote,” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in a statement.

Perez emphasized the ways the Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Latinos, blaming a “failed response to the pandemic” on the part of the Trump administration. 

The ad campaign, which the DNC says is a six-figure effort, strikes a similar tone with an equally stark message. “This November 3rd, our lives are on the ballot,” the ads say in Spanish before imploring those reading or listening to “make your plan to vote” and directing potential voters to visit VoyAVotar.com. The Spanish site, hosted by the DNC, allows prospective voters to check their registration status and register while also making plans to vote absentee, in person early or on Election Day. 

With the latest polls in several battleground states showing Biden ahead or neck-and-neck with President Donald Trump — including FloridaNevadaPennsylvania and Wisconsin — turning out key demographics could be the difference in those states.

The number of eligible Latino voters has grown more than among any other racial or ethnic group in battleground states over the past nearly two decades, but historically Latinos have had lower turnout rates than white and Black voters. According to Pew Research Center data, the number of eligible Latino voters who did not vote in 2016 was higher than the number of those who did. 

In 2016, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton underperformed among Latino voters compared to President Barack Obama. This cycle, the Biden campaign has faced criticism for what some view as slow and lackluster outreach to the community. Even so, the latest Pew Research poll showed Biden with a 34-point lead among Latino voters nationally, but it also revealed a possible area of concern — enthusiasm. The poll showed that while 79 percent of white Biden supporters are extremely motivated to vote for him, only 57 percent of Latino supporters say the same. 

The ads will run in Spanish print publications and on radio shows in Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Wisconsin. Voters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina will also see print ads, while those in California, Texas and Colorado will hear them on the airwaves.

Harris to attend Barrett hearings from Senate office

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will be attending the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett this week remotely, from her office on Capitol Hill, her senate communications director, Chris Harris, said Sunday.

The hearings, which begin Monday morning, come just weeks after what has been described as a “superspreader” event to announce Barrett’s nomination in the White House Rose Garden just over two weeks ago. President Donald Trump and at least 13 others who attended the event have tested positive for Covid-19 in the wake of the ceremony, including Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who also sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, has frequently tweeted from her senate office twitter account calling the decision to move forward with the hearings “reckless” and putting the health of senate staffers and other workers in the Capitol at risk.

She, along with Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also sent a letter to Senate Judiciary chairman Lindsey Graham, asking to have testing procedures in place if the hearings were to move forward. 

“We urge you against unsafely moving forward with these hearings while no clear testing regime is in place to ensure that they do not become another super-spreader of this deadly virus,” the senators wrote.

“Without these precautionary measures in place, Senators, Senate staff, press, Judge Barrett and her family will face a serious, unnecessary risk of contracting Covid-19.  We also have a moral responsibility to protect the workers who make it possible for us to do our jobs in the Senate each and every day.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called Democrats’ request for a delay in the hearings “procedural games and shenanigans.” 

“I think they are looking for anything to delay things even a day or two or three,” Cruz said on Meet the Press Sunday morning, “I think that Senate Republicans will follow the guidance, the medical guidance of the Capitol physician,” he said. “But the delay tactics of the Democrats aren’t going to work.”

While Harris told reporters during a recent trip to North Carolina that she is “definitely going to be involved in the hearings,” she is also missing critical time on the campaign trail, with just 23 days left until Election Day.

Her campaign has said “no day will go on unspared” in terms of reaching out to voters, and it’s possible Harris will continue both virtual and in-person events in the next few weeks.

Progressive groups call for release of all Barrett’s records from Notre Dame

WASHINGTON — A coalition of progressive watchdog groups are calling for the full release of more records pertaining to Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s time at the University of Notre Dame, which accounts for the majority of her professional career.  

The call came after a second previously undisclosed anti-abortion ad Barrett was associated with became public Friday evening. The 2013 ad, signed by Barrett, ran on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established the right to abortion and was sponsored by the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life.  

The ad, and the group’s activities, which among other things include arranging seminars and conferences and participating in the annual March for Life in Washington DC., raises questions about the extent to which Barrett was involved in other activist groups and activities during her tenure at the university, where she’s been a faculty member since 2002, the groups argue. The Senate will begin confirmation hearings on the nomination Monday.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett meets with U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 1, 2020.Anna Moneymaker / Pool via Getty Images

In a letter to Barrett provided to NBC News, Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, asks Barrett to allow Notre Dame to “make public documents relevant to your nomination, including all communications, including emails, as well as your personnel file, student evaluations, and any information regarding your involvement in faculty groups and committees.” 

In response to the letter White House spokesman Judd Deere told NBC that Barrett has been “extraordinarily transparent throughout this process.” Judge Barrett “has provided more than 1,800 pages of information to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is in addition to the more than 600 cases that she has participated in that comprise her judicial record.  She has spoken with nearly every member of the Committee and she will answer questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week,” said Deere.

On Sunday, Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats also sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking about materials that Barrett left off her initial paperwork, outlining several examples.

The Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life aims to educate students in “the rich intellectual tradition supporting the dignity of human life” and to prepare students to “transform the culture into one where every human life is respected,” according to the Catholic News Agency

Barrett’s decision to include the ad in her Senate paperwork comes in response to media reports, including that she failed to disclose a different anti-abortion ad in her nomination questionnaire: her participation in a 2006 ad calling for Roe v. Wade to be overturned and ending its “barbaric legacy,” as well as two talks she gave in 2013 hosted by two anti-abortion student groups.

Accountable.US is among watchdog groups with pending records requests on Barrett through the Freedom of Information Act and state open records laws. 

“Without more disclosure, we are getting a very limited sense of the nominee — and the narrative is being completely driven by what she wants to put forward,” Herrig told NBC. “If she was at a public university, we could’ve gotten her emails. We got emails from federal agencies and even the White House in past nomination fights. To not have any emails or much of a more in depth look at her work history is not normal.”

“There has never been a nominee about whom we know so little,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “Mitch McConnell would like to keep it that way, but the public has a right to understand who has been nominated to fill the most consequential Supreme Court vacancy in recent memory,” he said in a statement.

Harrison announces record $57 million third quarter haul in S.C. Senate race against Lindsey Graham

WASHINGTON — South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison’s campaign says he raised $57 million in the third quarter of 2020 as he looks to dethrone Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, far more than any Senate campaign has ever raised in one quarter. 

The new total, released by the campaign on Sunday morning, comes as Democratic Senate candidates across the country report eye-popping fundraising hauls in their bids to unseat Republican incumbents. 

Previously, former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke held the record for most raised in one quarter with $38.1 million. 

And to put Harrison’s total in more context, it’s slightly more than what Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren raised for their presidential campaigns in the final quarter of 2019, just ahead of the Iowa caucuses. 

Harrison did not release his campaign’s cash-on-hand figure. Congressional campaigns don’t have to file their official reports to the Federal Election Commission until later this month. 

There have been increasing signs of life in the deep-red South Carolina Senate race, where Republicans have been sounding the alarms about Graham’s chances. Graham recently took to Fox News airwaves to ask for help keeping pace with Harrison’s fundraising pace, and Senate Republican outside groups have recently flocked to his defense.

Graham has not yet released his third-quarter fundraising total, but even a herculean effort by the Republican will almost certainly leave him tens of millions of dollars behind Harrison’s third-quarter haul. Through June, the most recent date where fundraising totals for both candidates are available, Harrison had raised $29 million to Graham’s $31 million. 

Harrison has been relying on his campaign’s vast resources to significantly outspend Graham on the Tv and radio airwaves —  $38.5 million to $13.8 million through Sunday, according to Advertising Analytics. 

Other Democrats have announced huge third-quarter hauls in recent days too. Iowa Democrat Theresa Greenfield’s campaign says she raised $28.7 million, North Carolina Democrat Cal Cunningham’s campaign says he raised $28.3 million and Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper’s campaign says he raised $22.6 million. 

South Carolina debate format changes after Covid-19 test disagreement between Graham and Harrison

WASHINGTON — Thursday’s South Carolina Senate debate is changing format after a stand-off over Covid-19 testing between Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democrat Jaime Harrison. 

Harrison was demanding that Sen. Graham get a Covid-19 test ahead of tonight’s debate, something Graham said he didn’t do because his doctor said it wasn’t necessary.

Host WCBD-TV has changed the format to be separate interviews of each candidate by the moderator and voters. They will not appear on stage at the same time.

“We’re disappointed that Lindsey has failed to take a simple coronavirus test, but we appreciate our hosts were able to change the event format to make it safer for everyone,” Guy King, a Harrison spokesperson said. “Jaime will be there in Spartanburg tonight to talk to the voters.”

In a tweet thread Thursday night,  Graham said that Harrison is “demanding special treatment.”  

“South Carolinians do not appreciate Harrison putting himself above others. If Mr. Harrison is not able to interact with South Carolinians on the same terms they live their lives, he should not be their senator,” he adds.

Philadelphia Judge rejects Trump campaign lawsuit over poll watchers at satellite sites

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia judge has denied President Trump’s campaign the right to have poll watchers inside the city’s satellite elections offices. A spokesperson for the Trump campaign tells NBC News that they immediately appealed the decision, calling it “irresponsible.”

The judge wrote in a 14-page opinionFriday that Pennsylvania law doesn’t allow campaign representatives to observe in elections offices — backing the city’s stance that these satellite locations don’t qualify as polling places. Therefore, poll watching certificates cannot be issued.

“There’s no provision in the law for a poll watcher to sit down at my kitchen table and watch me fill out my ballot. I’d be highly offended by that; it’s entirely inappropriate,” David Thornburgh, the CEO of Committee of 70, an independent advocate for better elections, noted in a recent interview with NBC News. The Philadelphia satellite offices are meant to serve as locations for voters to register, apply for, fill out and return their mail-in ballots, all in one place.

People wait in line to cast their vote during early voting at City Hall in Philadelphia on Oct. 7, 2020.Gabriella Audi / AFP – Getty Images

The ruling comes just over a week after the campaign sued the city after election officials refused to let people hired by the Trump campaign to enter satellite sites and monitor voters applying for and completing mail-in ballots ahead of election day, triggering President Trump to call out the city during the first presidential debate saying, “bad things happen in Philadelphia.” 

The Philadelphia City Commissioners, who run the city’s elections, celebrated the ruling.

“We are pleased that the Court has reaffirmed our position that there is no right under the Pennsylvania Election Code to have poll watchers inside satellite election offices,” Chairwoman Lisa Deeley shared in a statement to NBC News, noting that the Election Code specifies that authorized poll watchers are permitted at polling places on Election Day. “In the meantime, we are continuing to work to ensure that all voters will be able to vote safely and securely.”

Democratic Senate candidates are outspending GOP opponents 2-to-1 over the airwaves

WASHINGTON — Democratic Senate candidates are significantly outspending their Republican opponents in key races that will decide who holds the Senate majority coming into 2021. 

Through Sept. 30, Democratic Senate candidates (as well as the Democrat-backed independent Al Gross running in Alaska) are outspending their GOP opponents over the TV and radio airwaves by almost a combined 2-to-1 margin, $135 million to $71 million, according to data from Advertising Analytics. The average Democratic candidate spent $9.7 million over that timeframe, compared to $5.1 million for the Republican candidate (this analysis doesn’t include the Georgia special Senate election, where a large field of candidates is running in a jungle primary). 

Some of those leads are relatively narrow — Gross outspent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan $1.2 million to $1 million; Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper outspent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner $8.4 million to $6.3 million; and Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock outspent Republican Sen. Steve Daines $9.5 million to $7.7 million. 

But other spending gaps are massive — Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones outspent Republican Tommy Tuberville $6.4 million to $700,000; Kansas Democrat Barbara Bollier outspent Republican Rep. Roger Marshall $3.9 million to $540,000; Iowa Democrat Theresa Greenfield outspent Republican Sen. Joni Ernst $14 million to $5.4 million; Democrat Cal Cunningham spent $13.5 million to Republican Sen. Thom Tillis’ $4.3 million; and Democrat Jaime Harrison spent $26.2 million to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham $9.4 million. 

Jaime Harrison faces off with Lindsey Graham during the South Carolina U.S. Senate debate at Allen University in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 3, 2020.Joshua Boucher / The State via AP

The only state where the Republican candidate had the spending edge through Sept. 30 was Texas, where Republican Sen. John Cornyn outspent Democrat MJ Hegar $4.4 million to $2.6 million.  

(Take a look at the full chart in First Read)

Outside groups have helped Republicans narrow the Democratic spending lead to a $345 million-to-$288 million edge. But those outside groups don’t get the same discounted ad rates that campaigns do — so they get less bang for their buck.  

That dynamic is typified by Alabama, where the total Democratic effort has spent $6.9 million to the GOP’s $5.8 million. But measuring in gross rating points — a standard measure used to approximate exposure — Democrats have an edge of 104,000 points to 36,000 points. That’s because Democrats are relying on TV spending from the candidate, while Republicans are leaning primarily on outside groups. 

In Goergia, Texas and Kansas, Democrats spent less but have bought more gross ratings points. In Michigan and Kentucky, that script is flipped, with Republican ads scoring more gross ratings points. 

And that metric allows you to take a good look at the impact of the overwhelming amount of ads — between the two candidates, Greenfield and Ernst have purchased almost 600,000 gross ratings points in Iowa, a sign of how the Senate race has inundated the TV market there. 



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Supreme Court to hear cases on Trump’s immigration policies

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The Supreme Court plans to hear cases on two of President Trump’s immigration policies. One involves funding for the southern border wall, while the other concerns whether individuals seeking asylum must wait in Mexico until their cases are heard. NBC News’ Pete Williams reports on the upcoming arguments.

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