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US Election 2020 as it happened: Joe Biden, Barack Obama campaign in Michigan, Donald Trump chases Pennsylvania

Former vice-president Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama (plus musical legend Stevie Wonder and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer) appeared at a drive-in rally in Detroit, Michigan today.

President Donald Trump spoke at a mass rally in Pennsylvania this morning.

That’s all I have for today everyone. Thanks so much for joining us.

  • Before I go here is a quick look at some of the major developments today, you will find these stories in our blog.
  • Joe Biden and Barack Obama campaigned together in Michigan and both took aim at Donald Trump for his shortcomings in the COVID-19 and his vanity.
  • Trump hosted four mass rallies in Pennsylvania, a state he will have to win to stay in office, selling his message that Biden would change the country for the worst while Trump would lift lead the economy to new heights.
  • Research from Stanford appears to show 30,000 COVID-19 cases and 700 deaths have come from Trump’s mass rallies after researchers looked back over several months of rallies.
  • A poll in Iowa shows Trump has moved ahead of Biden and has a strong number of independents siding with him. The Des Moines Register poll had Trump up 48-41 over Biden following a poll of 814 likely voters.
  • Republicans will appear in Federal Court on Monday to challenge the validity of more than 100,000 Texas votes which was cast at drive-in voting stations in Harris County, Houston. Texas courts had already said the votes were fine. Beto O’Rourke told CNN this suit was an attempt to stop people voting although 9.6 million Texans have voted.

Thanks again for joining us today and I’ll be back early tomorrow morning with another live blog as we reach two days until Election Day this coming Wednesday AEDT.

I’ll leave you with this video of Barack Obama knocking down a corner three-pointer on a local basketball court while campaigning today. It’s been doing the rounds on social media

“That’s what I do,” Obama yelled as he walked out.

Have a great afternoon and I’ll see you in the morning.

The former US president is unplugged on the campaign trail. But is he really helping Democratic candidate Joe Biden? Farrah Tomazin reports.

Former US President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speak at a rally in Flint, Michigan on Sunday AEDT.

Former US President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speak at a rally in Flint, Michigan on Sunday AEDT.Credit:AP

You get the feeling Barack Obama is enjoying himself.

Since leaving the Oval Office, the former president has been reluctant to attack Donald Trump, adhering to his own unwritten rule not to criticise a sitting president.

But as the US election campaign reaches its final days, Obama is unplugged and letting it rip.

After almost four years of dignified silence in the face of Trump’s personal insults, the Democratic stalwart isn’t just campaigning to shore up support for his former vice-president, Joe Biden – he’s using the opportunity to defend his own legacy while gleefully roasting his successor.

There are jabs at Trump’s ego, with Obama telling supporters at a drive-in rally today in Michigan: “He’s still worried about his inauguration crowd being smaller than mine! Did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Was he traumatised? What’s with crowds?”

There are criticisms of Trump’s ability to govern, with Obama needling the President for failing to view his job “as anything more than a reality show that can give him the attention he craves – and he does crave attention”.

And then there are Obama’s most potent messages, centred on Trump’s handling of coronavirus, which is surging across most US states again.

The issue flared up this weekend when Trump suggested, without evidence, that doctors were profiteering from COVID-19 deaths.

“You know our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID,” he told a rally on Saturday (AEST).

Today, appearing alongside Biden for two rallies in Michigan, Obama was all too happy to fire back.

President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden have delivered final pitches in Pennsylvania and Michigan, battling over the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, as the two campaigns scoured for votes from a diminishing pool of Americans who have yet to cast ballots.

As former President Barack Obama mobilised voters with Biden at drive-in events in Flint, Michigan, and Detroit, and Trump scheduled four rallies across the Keystone state, anxious Democrats in Pennsylvania, Florida and other battleground states focused on finding alternatives for hundreds of thousands of voters who requested ballots by mail but may not return them in time to be counted.

President Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a campaign stop on Saturday night at the Butler County Regional Airport in Pennsylvania.

President Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a campaign stop on Saturday night at the Butler County Regional Airport in Pennsylvania. Credit:AP

Trump urged supporters to bypass early voting options in hopes of making up ground on election day, while railing against Supreme Court decisions that could let some states count ballots received days later, repeating unsubstantiated claims that votes not tallied by Tuesday are likely fraudulent.

“This is one opportunity to turn our country around and we’re not going to blow it,” Trump, whose voice has grown hoarse from campaigning and suffering COVID-19 last month, told a crowd of supporters on a muddy farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where George Washington slept before crossing the Delaware.

In Flint, Obama promised a post-Trump world where “you’re not going to have to think about him every day” and “you’re not going to argue about him with your family every day”.

Biden, promising a plan to gain control of COVID-19, hammered the same theme: “We’re done with the chaos, the tweets, the anger, the failure, refusing to take any responsibility.” Los Angeles Times

Read more here.

Barack Obama published his second book, The Audacity of Hope, 14 years ago this month, and a few months after that, in February 2007, he announced his presidential campaign.

The Audacity of Hope was largely seen as a job application for the presidency, a brand-building exercise that doubled as a stump speech, stripped of the interesting detail of Obama’s first book, his memoir Dreams of my Father (a highly literary bildungsroman, not to mention a fascinating portrait of community organising in downtown Chicago in the 1980s).

Illustration by Matt Davidson.

Illustration by Matt Davidson.Credit:The Age

But The Audacity of Hope served its purpose, and supplied the through-line for Obama’s presidential campaign. Remember his “Hope” posters of 2008? They seem audacious now, and not in the way that was meant – more like a combination of quaint and hubristic.

If each president represents a correction of the last, that makes Trump an agent of despair, and in the lead-up to next Tuesday’s presidential election, it seems the whole world is experiencing something more like the Agony of Hope.

There is too much anxiety and too much at stake to feel audacious about anything.

Click here to read the story.

A record 90 million Americans have voted early in the US presidential election, data on Saturday showed, as President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden campaigned across the country to try to sway the few remaining undecided voters.

The high number of early voters, about 65 per cent of the total turnout in 2016, reflects intense interest in the contest, with three days of campaigning left.

Concerns about exposure to the coronavirus at busy Election Day voting places on Tuesday have also pushed up the numbers of people voting by mail or at early in-person polling sites.

The Republican president is spending the closing days of his re-election campaign criticising public officials and medical professionals who are trying to combat the coronavirus pandemic even as it surges back across the United States.

Opinion polls show Trump trailing former vice president Biden nationally, but with a closer contest in the most competitive states that will decide the election. Voters say the coronavirus is their top concern.

Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that mail-in ballots are susceptible to fraud and has more recently argued that only the results available on election night should count. In a flurry of legal motions, his campaign has sought to restrict absentee balloting.

“I don’t care how hard Donald Trump tries. There’s nothing – let me say that again – there’s nothing that he can do to stop the people of this nation from voting in overwhelming numbers and taking back this democracy,” Biden said at a rally in Flint, Michigan, where he was joined by former President Barack Obama for their first 2020 campaign event together.

Trump held four rallies on Saturday in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where the campaigns are seeking to win over undecided voters in areas like the suburbs of Philadelphia and the “Rust Belt” west of the state.

“If we win Pennsylvania, it’s over,” Trump told a large rally in Reading before moving to another big gathering in Butler.

Officials in several states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, say it could take several days to count all of the mail ballots, possibly leading to days of uncertainty if the outcome hinges on those states.

Reuters

The office of Foreign Minister Marise Payne has clarified advice relating to a warning about travelling to the United States.

On Sunday, we incorrectly reported that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had warned Australians not to travel to the United States due to concerns about possible civil unrest connected with the US Election.

Senator Payne’s office said the warning against travel was an existing COVID-related advice, with similar do not travel warnings issued in relation to all countries, and the only change to the US travel advice is mention the upcoming election to be held in a few days

A federal judge in Texas scheduled an emergency hearing for Monday on whether Houston officials unlawfully allowed drive-through voting and should throw out more than 100,000 votes in the Democratic-leaning area.

In a brief order, US District Judge Andrew Hanen in Houston on Friday agreed to hear arguments by a Republican state legislator and others that votes already cast at drive-through voting sites in the Houston area should be rejected.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris speaks at a campaign in Fort Worth, Texas.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris speaks at a campaign in Fort Worth, Texas. Credit:AP

The lawsuit was brought on Wednesday by plaintiffs including Steve Hotze, a conservative activist, and state Representative Steve Toth. They accused Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, a Democrat, of exceeding his constitutional authority by allowing drive-through voting as an alternative to walk-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Harris County, home to about 4.7 million people, is the third most populous county in the United States. It currently has 10 drive-through polling sites, which are available to all voters.

The lawsuit came after the Texas Supreme Court, one of the most conservative state courts in the United States, rejected similar bids to halt drive-through voting in Harris County.

The plaintiffs ask the court to “reject any votes it finds were cast in violation of the Texas Election Code” and “require all memory cards from the 10 drive-thru voting locations be secured and not entered or downloaded into the tally machine until this court issues an order on this complaint.”

Hanen was appointed by President George W. Bush, a Republican.

The request is “wholly unreasonable”, Democratic groups, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said on Friday in a motion asking to intervene in the case.

“Plaintiffs ask this Court to throw Texas’s election into chaos by invalidating the votes of more than 100,000 eligible Texas voters who cast their ballots at drive-thru voting locations at the invitation of county officials and in reliance on the Texas Supreme Court’s decision to allow drive-thru voting to proceed,” the groups said.

Michael Morley, a professor of election law at Florida State University, called the lawsuit meritless and said it proposes an “extreme remedy”.

“I think the county has a strong legal basis under state law for implementing these voting alternatives during a pandemic,” Morley said.

“Even if the court disagreed, however, a remedy would most likely be purely prospective – prohibiting continued use of these mechanisms while still counting votes already cast.”

Texas, the second largest US state, is a traditionally Republican state, but polls show President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are neck and neck, with more than 9 million ballots already cast, eclipsing total turnout from 2016.

Reuters

Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke says Republicans are “desperate” to suppress voters in their state.

O’Rourke, who ran in the Democratic presidential primary, compared the lawsuit trying to throw out 127,000 drive-in votes in Harris County, Houston and Trump supporters chasing the Biden-Harris bus in Texas as signs of their desperation.

Beto O'Rourke.

Beto O’Rourke.Credit:AP

“When we vote, they lose,” O’Rourke told CNN on Sunday AEDT.

“This is very much connected to the lawsuit trying to throw out 127,000 votes in Harris County.

“When you can’t win by the rules you either try to change the rules after the fact, like in Harris County, or you go beyond the peaceful exercise of your right to vote and use intimidation, the threat of violence or actual violence as captured on video of Trump supporters trying to run the Biden bus off the road and engaging with another vehicle.

“Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.”

O’Rourke said tireless work over many years had seen Texas voting turnout rise from last in the United States to being among the best, and he also said 9.6 million early votes had already been cast in the state.

Former vice-president Joe Biden hasn’t campaigned in Texas in the run-up to the poll but the rise in voters has made the state competitive for Democrats for the first time since the 1970s.

Vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris made several appearances in Texas on Saturday AEDT.

“I’m really happy Senator Harris came down. We would love to see Joe Biden in Texas, it would be absolutely catalytic,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke added that if the Biden wins Texas, which would be an upset, then it will be the product of decades of local activism.

“This isn’t a fluke. It’s something that has been building for a while,” O’Rourke told CNN.

“If Biden wins [Texas] on November 3, it will be less about the top of the ticket than about the down ballot candidates who are energising voters and sending them to the top of the ticket.”

A Des Moines Register poll showed Donald Trump with a seven-point lead over Joe Biden in Iowa, 48 per cent to 41 per cent, after the two were tied in the same series in September with 47 per cent each.

The survey’s an outlier after several recent polls showed the Iowa race too close to call. Biden’s campaign has targeted the state aggressively with advertising.

The survey of 814 likely voters was taken October 26-29. It had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

“The president is holding demographic groups that he won in Iowa four years ago,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of the polling company Selzer & Co.

Since September Trump’s standing has improved among independent voters, while his support has slipped among women, according to the poll.

The Real Clear Politics average of recent Iowa polls, updated to include the Des Moines Register survey, shows Trump up by 0.5 points.

Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump is speaking at his fourth rally in Pennsylvania today as he appears in Montoursville.

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