Personifying his Twitter feed, Trump acted like the troll-in-chief as he bullied Biden. There may be Teleprompter Trump and Twitter Trump, but it is always The Trump Show. On Tuesday night, he was all about the base. Most notably, the president refused to condemn white supremacists and armed militia members.
The 82-minute debate in Cleveland will be remembered for the crosstalk, and how Biden exceeded the low expectations Trump set for him, but the clash also underscored the president’s inability over the past six months to define his challenger as some kind of radical kook who is in cahoots with the far left.
Anyone who watched one of this cycle’s Democratic primary debates knows that Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) significantly differ in how they approach health care. That issue took up, by far, more time than any other. Sanders repeatedly ripped his rival for not endorsing Medicare-for-all. With his eyes on the general election, Biden took a lot of hits during the nominating contest for favoring a public option that would expand Obamacare while allowing people to keep their private health insurance plans. But, in the first segment of Tuesday’s debate, Trump tried to argue that Biden supports Sanders’s proposed government takeover of health care.
“Your party wants to go socialist medicine,” said Trump.
“My party is me,” Biden said. “Right now, I am the Democratic Party. The fact of the matter is I beat Bernie Sanders.”
“Not by much,” Trump replied.
“I beat him by a whole hell of a lot,” Biden replied. “I’m here facing you, old buddy.”
Indeed, Biden won more than 2,600 delegates to the Democratic convention while Sanders won 1,073.
It was one of several moments that Biden undercut Trump’s efforts to pretend like his opponent is actually Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) or antifa. The most revealing illustration came when Trump claimed that Biden refuses to say the words “law and order” because he’s beholden to the “radical left.”
“They’ve got you wrapped around their finger, Joe, to the point where you don’t want to say anything about law and order,” Trump said. “I tell you what, the people of this country want and demand law and order, and you’re afraid to even say it. Are you in favor of law and order?”
Biden said yes, even as Trump repeatedly cut him off. “I am in favor of law and order with justice, where people get treated fairly,” he said.
“Okay,” Trump replied.
Just a minute later, Trump again claimed Biden refuses to say the words “law and order.”
“He doesn’t want to say law and order because he can’t, because he’ll lose his radical left supporters, and once he does that, it’s over with,” Trump said, as if he was asking people to reject the evidence of their eyes and ears.
“No way,” said Biden.
Trump then painted an apocalyptic picture of what the country would look like if Biden won, even though none of it happened during his 36 years in the Senate or eight years as vice president. “Our suburbs would be gone,” Trump said.
“He wouldn’t know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn,” said Biden. “I was raised in the suburbs. This is not 1950. All these dog whistles and racism don’t work anymore. Suburbs are, by and large, integrated. … What really is a threat to the suburbs and their safety is his failure to deal with covid.”
When Trump attacked Biden over the Green New Deal, the Democratic nominee distanced himself. “That is not my plan. The Green New Deal is not my plan,” he said. “I support the Biden plan that I put forward. The Biden plan is different than what he calls the radical Green New Deal.”
Biden strategists believe that Trump is so detested by the left that they can count on liberals who backed Sanders and others in the primary turning out. In one indication that they’re right, Biden raised $3.8 million online between 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern, which the digital director said is the most money the campaign has ever raised in a single hour.
To be sure, Biden offered nods to the left. For example, he refused to rule out that he would support packing the Supreme Court if he wins and Democrats seize control of the Senate. “Whatever position I take,” Biden dodged, “that will become the issue. The issue is the American people should speak.” Trump taunted Biden. “You just lost the left,” he said.
Trump seems to subscribe to the Emersonian view that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” He repeatedly deployed attacks against Biden that contradicted other attacks he had already made. For example, even as Trump said Biden was soft on crime, he attacked him for imposing overly harsh mandatory sentences in the 1994 crime bill.
The president also falsely accused Biden of referring to African Americans as “super predators.” Biden was never reported to have used that term. That was something Hillary Clinton said in the 1990s, which she took flack for in 2016.
The Trump campaign has been running commercials in the very same media market with these contradictory messages: On channels mostly watched by Black audiences, they attack Biden for being too tough on crime. On channels favored by White audiences, they attack Biden for being too soft on crime.
During the debate, as he has for months, Biden unequivocally condemned violence, rioting and looting. He has consistently said he supports only peaceful forms of protest. That has not stopped Trump from claiming otherwise.
On Tuesday, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump: “Are you willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities?” After initially saying “sure,” Trump pivoted: “I’m prepared to do that, but I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.” When Biden said Trump should condemn the “Proud Boys,” Trump responded by telling the group to “stand back and stand by,” terminology that was seized upon by members of the group. “This is not a right-wing problem,” Trump repeated. “This is a left-wing problem.”
When Biden noted that more than 200,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus on Trump’s watch, the president responded that 2 million would have died if Biden had been in charge because he would not have been aggressive enough about responding to the contagion. In the next breath, Trump attacked Biden for being too aggressive about trying to lock down the country to contain the virus.
Asked about masks, Trump said he supports wearing them when appropriate. A moment later, he cast doubt on the scientific consensus that they’re helpful. Then he criticized Tony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, for saying early in the pandemic that people don’t need to wear masks.
The bottom line is that Trump probably did nothing to dig himself out of the hole he is in, with an approval rating mired in the low 40s. It seems like a safe bet that ratings will be way down for the second debate because people were so fatigued and exhausted from all the crosstalk during the first meeting. Biden did not have a flawless performance, by any means, but he showed discipline and didn’t commit any significant gaffes.
A CNN poll conducted by SSRS found that six in 10 debate watchers said Biden did the best job, compared to 28 percent who said Trump did. About two-thirds said Biden’s answers were more truthful than Trump’s. While 69 percent called Biden’s attacks on Trump fair, just 32 percent said Trump’s attacks were fair.
A CBS News survey conducted by YouGov found that 48 percent of debate watchers thought Biden won, compared to 41 percent who thought Trump did. Another 10 percent called the debate a tie. Just 17 percent said the debate was informative.
The debate concluded with an ominous reminder. Election Day might be five weeks away, but that does not mean this nasty campaign will end on Nov. 3. Trump said during the final segment that “we might not know for months” who won the election because of disputes over which ballots should be counted. The president reiterated that he is “counting” on the Supreme Court to protect him from what he insists, without evidence, will be a “rigged” process. “I think I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely,” Trump said.
In a news dump, clearly timed to coincide with the debate, Senate Republicans released the written questionnaire that Judge Amy Coney Barrett filled out as part of the confirmation process. In it, Trump’s third nominee to the Supreme Court would not pledge to recuse herself from cases related to determining the outcome of the 2020 election.
More team coverage
Our Fact Checkers reviewed 21 dubious statements from the debate. For example, Trump wrongly claimed: “There aren’t 100 million people with preexisting conditions.” In fact, an estimated 102 million Americans have preexisting health conditions.
“On the margins, the debate probably did more to help Biden than the president, at a moment when Trump needed to change the shape and trajectory of the campaign,” writes chief correspondent Dan Balz. “Judging the debate by traditional standards gives the evening more credit than it deserves. For most people, this was unwatchable, a grab-the-remote, change-the-channel moment in a forum that in past election years has served the country well.”
Trump’s “performance was not ideal in the opinion of some of his advisers,” per White House correspondent Josh Dawsey. “The president is trailing Biden badly with female voters and his campaign is trying to close that gap while also trying to hold onto independents who like some of what he has delivered as president but do not like his tactics or personality.”
“He talked so much that it became impossible to even understand what he was talking about,” writes critic-at-large Robin Givhan. “He talked ceaselessly, and yet he said very little. He talked so much it was as though he was trying to pummel the viewer into submission with his words.”
“On Parler, the platform and social network where numerous extremist groups have moved following crackdowns on Facebook, the chairman of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, responded to Trump’s remarks by posting, ‘That’s my president!’ Numerous effusive posts followed. ‘Standing by sir,’ he wrote,” per Toluse Olorunnipa and Cleve Wootson Jr. “Members of the group used Trump’s “stand back and stand by” comments to create a fresh logo and messaging campaign on social media. … In an interview, Tarrio said he supported Trump’s commentary, a sign that the group’s attempts to achieve legitimacy and recognition got a boost during the first presidential debate.”
What pundits are saying
Commentary from The Post’s opinion page:
- Max Boot: “Trump showed no respect for time limits, human decency or the truth.”
- Dana Milbank: “Only the Proud Boys can take pride in Trump’s debate hooliganism.”
- Jen Rubin: “Trump blows up the debate – and himself.”
- Gary Abernathy: Trump “is no longer shocking or surprising or even novel, which might be to his detriment.”
- Marc Thiessen: “Biden cleared the low bar Trump set for him. But Trump still won.”
- Alyssa Rosenberg: “I recapped ‘Game of Thrones’ live for eight straight seasons, and the first clash between Trump and Biden was still one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen on television.”
- Ben Ginsberg: “As a Republican lawyer who has spent four decades monitoring elections and looking for fraud, I can say with confidence that evidence to support the president’s words and threatened actions does not exist. The president has consistently been behind in the polls, and his aim appears to be seeding chaos in order to somehow cling to power.”
How it played elsewhere:
- “In some ways it can be entertaining to see politicians drop all pretense and start hurling their own waste at each other like primates at the zoo. But the intensity and unrelenting nature of the rudeness quickly ceased to be interesting and became simply depressing,” writes Politico founding editor John Harris.
- “Chris Wallace now feels the pain of women in meetings,” said FiveThirtyEight’s Clare Malone.
- “I think, on the Trump side, it was too hot,” said former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for the debate, on ABC. “Listen, you come in and decide you want to be aggressive, and that was the right thing. … But that was too hot.”
- “The reason Trump is losing women, independent voters [and] suburban voters is that they are exhausted by the chaos, the constant attacks and drama,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report, adding he leaned into all three.
- “No hyperbole: the incumbent’s behavior this evening is the lowest moment in the history of the presidency since Andrew Johnson’s racist state papers,” said presidential historian Jon Meacham.
- Trump’s unhinged performance is a sign he knows he’s losing, wrote the New Republic’s Walter Shapiro. But the president’s “failure to land a punch probably won’t matter in the long run. Trump’s real enemy in this campaign is time, not Biden. Every day that Trump doesn’t score a major breakthrough is a good day for Biden.”
- The Atlantic’s James Fallows calls it a “disgusting night for democracy”: “Trump made it so, and Chris Wallace let him.”
- “Even with the bar as low as it was, the segment on race and violence was especially infuriating,” writes Mother Jones’s Nathalie Baptiste. “Unsurprisingly, the three white men on the debate stage failed to meet the moment. … The race segment certainly was not about appealing to Black voters.”
- “We saw very little content about gender or marginalized people and a lot of masculine posturing,” Occidental College political scientist Jennfier Piscopo told the 19th‘s Errin Haines.
- The debate’s section on race “had more dog whistles than we could count,” said BuzzFeed’s Ryan Brooks and Nidhi Prakash.
- “If you are a fan of the Trump lifestyle brand—if you have a Trump flag on your boat and wear a MAGA hat because you love pissing off the brown girl with the nose ring at Starbucks—then I suspect that you thought this was the greatest performance by any debater in the history of debates,” writes the Bulwark’s Jonathan Last. But the conservative writer added: “I cannot understand how anyone with an IQ over 80 could have watched this disgrace and not come away understanding that the president of the United States is a sociopath.”
- “The president’s conduct was the equivalent of pulling the pin on a hand grenade and hoping that the ensuing explosion would harm the other candidate more,” Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns write in the Times.
- Trump claimed his policies have made insulin “so cheap, it’s like water.” But, for most people, it costs just as much as ever before. Stat News reports the vital drug retails for roughly $300 a vial. Most patients with diabetes need two to three vials per month, though some can require much more.
Quote of the day
“That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck,” said CNN’s Jake Tapper. “It wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace.” His colleague Dana Bash responded with sharper words: “I’m just going to say it like it is. That was a s— show.” (Elahe Izadi)
More on the election
Trump offered Barrett the Supreme Court nomination the day he met her.
“Barrett submitted her 69-page nominee questionnaire — which reveals her most monumental cases, financial information, work history, public writings and details of her selection process — Tuesday evening,” Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez and Robert Barnes report. “Barrett tells senators that she was first contacted for the vacancy on Sept. 19, the day after Ginsburg’s death, by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone. She was invited to Washington for a meeting with Trump that Monday and was offered the nomination that same day, according to the questionnaire. … Among the information in the questionnaire, which senators will review, Barrett listed a net worth of nearly $2.6 million. …
“Barrett was asked a standard question about her most significant decisions as a judge. She made her first choice a gun rights case in which she dissented … from a panel decision that upheld federal and Wisconsin state laws banning felons from having guns. … Barrett in the questionnaire also listed cases dealing with the Trump administration’s tightening of benefits for those seeking green cards, and a case in which the panel questioned the fairness of Purdue University’s treatment of a male student accused of sexual misconduct. … The administration has eschewed a traditional outside liaison to help Barrett navigate Capitol Hill throughout her confirmation process, relying primarily on Meadows and Cipollone to guide her through her fight.” Barrett met with nine GOP senators on Tuesday.
Barrett once represented an affiliate of an Iranian exile group as it challenged the State Department’s designation of it as a foreign terrorist organization. She disclosed her work for the National Council of Resistance of Iran and its U.S. office in the 2017 questionnaire when she was nominated to the circuit court. She was one of five lawyers that represented the NCRI from 2000 to 2001, which is affiliated with the Mujahideen-e Khalq, a onetime militant group comprising Iranian exiles who oppose Iran’s clerical regime. “The Obama administration removed the group from the U.S. government’s list of terrorist organizations in 2012,” Paul Sonne and Yeganeh Torbati report.
Joe and Jill Biden paid nearly $300,000 in federal income taxes last year.
The Bidens paid that on earnings of about $985,000, according to tax returns he released in the wake of the New York Times bombshell that Trump paid just $750 in recent years and nothing at all in others, Sean Sullivan reports. “Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), also released her 2019 taxes on Tuesday. Her return showed nearly $3.3 million in total income with her husband, Douglas Emhoff, who had a lucrative law practice from which he is currently on leave. They paid more than $1.1 million in federal taxes.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce fires political director Scott Reed right before the debate.
“Reed, who managed the presidential campaign of Bob Dole in 1996, had helped pilot the chamber’s well-funded congressional election strategy for more than a decade,” Tom Hamburger reports. “A replacement has not been named, but an internal memo obtained by The Washington Post says that the chamber anticipates no disruption in its election plans, which this year included endorsing 30 Democrats seeking House seats. This shift has led to a growing rift between the chamber and top Republicans.”
- “The Chamber would not let me spend Senate money down the home stretch in North Carolina and Maine,” Reed emailed.
- “An internal review has revealed that Scott repeatedly breached confidentiality, distorted facts for his own benefit, withheld information from chamber leadership and leaked internal information to the press,” Chamber CEO Tom Donohue wrote in a note to his board.
ICE is preparing targeted, pre-election arrests of immigrants to amplify Trump campaign messaging.
“The Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, known informally as the ‘sanctuary op,’ could begin in California as soon as later this week. It would then expand to cities including Denver and Philadelphia,” Nick Miroff and Devlin Barrett report. “Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, probably will travel to at least one of the jurisdictions where the operation will take place to boost Trump’s claims that leaders in those cities have failed to protect residents from dangerous criminals. … Two officials with knowledge of plans for the sanctuary op described it as more of a political messaging campaign than a major ICE operation, noting that the agency already concentrates on immigration violators with criminal records and routinely arrests them without much fanfare.”
The Trump administration is also pushing to build more chunks of the border wall before the election. Construction crews are now adding nearly two miles per day, Miroff reports. The latest figures from CBP show the rate of construction has nearly doubled since the beginning of the year, accelerated by the government’s ability to cut through national forests, wildlife preserves and other public lands already under federal control. Officials are preparing a ceremony for Trump next month that will allow him to boast about the completion of 400 miles of new fencing.
An early surge of Democratic mail voting is sparking worry inside the GOP.
“Democratic voters who have requested mail ballots — and returned them — greatly outnumber Republicans so far in key battleground states, causing alarm among GOP party leaders and strategists that Trump’s attacks on mail voting could be hurting the party’s prospects to retain the White House and the Senate this year,” Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey report. “Of the more than 9 million voters who requested mail ballots through Monday in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine and Iowa, the five battleground states where such data is publicly available, 52 percent were Democrats. Twenty-eight percent were Republicans, and 20 percent were unaffiliated. Additional internal Democratic and Republican Party data obtained by The Post shows a similar trend in Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Even more alarming to some Republicans, Democrats are also returning their ballots at higher rates than GOP voters in two of those states where that information is available: Florida and North Carolina.”
USPS workers are quietly resisting the postmaster general’s changes.
“Mechanics in New York drew out the dismantling and removal of mail-sorting machines until their supervisor gave up on the order. In Michigan, a group of letter carriers did an end run around a supervisor’s directive to leave election mail behind, starting their routes late to sift through it. In Ohio, postal clerks culled prescriptions and benefit checks from bins of stalled mail to make sure they were delivered, while some carriers ran late items out on their own time. In Pennsylvania, some postal workers looked for any excuse — a missed turn, heavy traffic, a rowdy dog — to buy enough time to finish their daily rounds,” Jacob Bogage reports. “‘I can’t see any postal worker not bending those rules,’ one Philadelphia staffer said in an interview. … Some of the agency’s 630,000 workers say they felt a responsibility to counteract cost-cutting changes from their new boss, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, that they blame for the mail slowdowns. They question whether DeJoy … is politicizing the institution in service to a president who has actively tried to sow distrust of mail-in voting, insisting without evidence that it will lead to massive fraud.”
- New York election officials will resend ballots after about 100,000 voters in Brooklyn were sent return envelopes with wrong information, a mistake blamed on a vendor. (Tim Elfrink and Paulina Firozi)
- An appeals court upheld Wisconsin’s six-day extension for counting ballots, allowing voters more time to return their absentee ballots, after finding that Republicans didn’t have the standing to challenge the motion. (Journal Sentinel)
There’s still a bear in the woods
Michael Flynn’s lawyer personally briefed Trump on his case this month.
“The disclosure by Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell was one of the most striking notes of a contentious five-hour hearing before U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan into whether the court should grant a Justice Department request to dismiss the case,” Spencer Hsu, Ann Marimow and Matt Zapotosky report. “Flynn’s lawyer initially declined to answer Sullivan’s questions about her interactions with Trump, citing executive privilege. Powell later relented after the judge noted she was not a government official.” Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts, but Attorney General Bill Barr is trying to let him off. A DOJ lawyer rejected assertions during the hearing that Barr ordered the case abandoned for corrupt and purely political reasons. Powell also claimed that she asked Trump not to pardon his former national security adviser.
Bob Mueller denies allegations in an ex-prosecutor’s tell-all book.
“The rare public statement from Mueller came on the day Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor in the special counsel’s office, released a book alleging that the group did not fully investigate Trump’s financial ties and should have stated explicitly that it believed he obstructed justice,” Zapotosky reports. “Although Mueller’s statement did not name Weissmann or the book … it seemed clearly designed to address some of his complaints — particularly those directed at Aaron Zebley, Mueller’s top deputy, whom Weissmann said was not sufficiently aggressive. ‘It is not surprising that members of the Special Counsel’s Office did not always agree, but it is disappointing to hear criticism of our team based on incomplete information,’ Mueller said, [adding] that he was the office’s ultimate decider. … Weissmann said he agreed with ‘most of what special counsel Mueller wrote’ but he maintained his ‘personal views’ on some of the steps the office didn’t take, such as subpoenaing the president, conducting a more complete financial investigation and clearly stating the view that Trump obstructed justice.”
Republicans are accelerating public scrutiny of the Russia investigation.
“Senate Republicans’ election-season gambit to scrutinize the 2016 investigation of Trump’s campaign resumes Wednesday with public testimony from former FBI director James B. Comey,” Karoun Demirjian reports. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) “organized the hearing with Comey as part of a long-running review of the counterintelligence probe known as ‘Crossfire Hurricane.’ He is one of three Senate committee chairmen looking into the matter on suspicion that law enforcement’s scrutiny of Trump was biased. … On Tuesday, Graham released a letter from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe stating that Obama administration officials were briefed on a Russian intelligence analysis alleging that Trump’s opponent in 2016, Hillary Clinton, authorized ‘a campaign plan to stir up a scandal’ against Trump by tying him to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russians’ hack of Democrats’ emails. In the letter, Ratcliffe acknowledged that the intelligence community is uncertain if the information in that analysis was accurate. The Post reported in 2017 that officials believed a document matching the description in Ratcliffe’s letter was possibly fake and planted to confuse the FBI.”
Kentucky’s attorney general says he didn’t present homicide charges to the grand jury in Breonna Taylor’s case.
“Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not recommend murder charges to the grand jury considering evidence against the police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, he said Tuesday amid growing criticism of his handling of the case,” Hannah Knowles and Marisa Iati report. “Cameron recommended that the grand jury indict one officer on charges of wanton endangerment for firing bullets that entered neighboring apartments, but said the other two officers, whose bullets struck Taylor, were ‘justified in their acts.’ … The statement cast doubt on comments he had made during a news conference last week, when Cameron said he walked jurors through ‘every homicide offense, and also presented all of the information that was available.’ The grand jury followed Cameron’s recommendation, holding no one accountable for Taylor’s death.”
- The mother of an unarmed man killed by Park Police officers calls on Congress to require body cameras. (Tom Jackman)
- A Texas sheriff is indicted after TV footage of a fatal police chase was destroyed. (Teo Armus)
- Prosecutors say a man who drove into BLM protesters in Pasadena, Calif., was amassing guns. (Paulina Villegas)
Seven former FDA commissioners say the Trump administration is undermining the agency’s credibility.
In an op-ed published in today’s newspaper, Robert Califf, Scott Gottlieb, Margaret Hamburg, Jane Henney, David Kessler, Mark McClellan and Andy von Eschenbach, all former leaders of the agency, said the safe and effective vaccination of Americans depends “on widespread confidence that the vaccine approval was based on sound science and not politics. If the White House takes the unprecedented step of trying to tip the scales on how safety and benefits will be judged, the impact on public trust will render an effective vaccine much less so. … In the 114 years since, FDA professionals have created a consumer safety net that has been a worldwide model for evidence-based public health policy. … That is changing in deeply troubling ways. The White House has said it might try to influence the scientific standards for vaccine approval put forward by the FDA or block the agency from issuing further written guidance on its criteria for judging the safety and benefits of a potential covid-19 vaccine. …
“The White House statements came on the heels of other concerning actions that could impact the FDA’s scientific standards. On Sept. 15, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar revoked the FDA’s authority to establish rules for food and drug safety, instead claiming that sole authority for himself. This came in the wake of acknowledged acts of political influence on the FDA’s coronavirus communications, significant misstatements by the secretary and other political leaders about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma, and the overruling of FDA scientists on the regulation of covid-19 laboratory tests. At risk is the FDA’s ability to make the independent, science-based decisions that are key to combating the pandemic and so much more.”
“Trump has scheduled large campaign rallies this weekend in Wisconsin despite recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force that call for increasing social distancing in the state ‘to the maximal degree possible,’” Michael Scherer and Lena Sun note. “The task force has further flagged La Crosse and Green Bay, the metropolitan areas where Trump plans to gather thousands of supporters Saturday, as coronavirus ‘red zones,’ the highest level of concern for community spread of the virus, according to a report from the group released Sunday and obtained by The Washington Post. Wisconsin is listed in the document as the state with the third-highest rate of new cases in the country, with 243 new cases per 100,000 people over the previous week, about 2.6 times greater than the national average. Ahead of Trump’s scheduled rally in Green Bay, the Bellin Health System said Tuesday that its hospital in that city is at 94 percent capacity as covid-19 continues to spike in the community.”
The Trump team’s new rapid tests are also plagued by confusion and a lack of planning. The administration’s “deployment of the new tests to nursing homes has been plagued by poor communication, false results and a frustrating lack of planning, state leaders say,” William Wan and Sun report. “Health officials in several states say they have been allowed no say in where the new tests are being sent and sometimes don’t know which nursing homes will receive them until the night before a shipment arrives. That has left some facilities ill-trained in how to use the tests and what to do with results. And it may be contributing to false-positive test results — when people are identified as being infected but aren’t.”
Celebrities are refusing to participate in Trump’s taxpayer-funded ad blitz.
“They made a list of more than 30 celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Billy Joel to appear in their ad campaign to ‘inspire hope’ about coronavirus, but they ended up with only Dennis Quaid, CeCe Winans and Hasidic singer Shulem Lemmer,” Politico reports. “Some complain of the unstated aim of helping Trump’s re-election. Others point to an ill-prepared video team and a 22-year-old political appointee who has repeatedly asserted control despite having no public health expertise … Interviews with participants and others in the Health and Human Services Department paint a picture of a chaotic effort, scrambling to meet an unofficial Election Day deadline, floundering in the wake of the medical leave of its architect, Michael Caputo, and running up against increasing resistance among career staff. … The video firm recommended by HHS to execute the campaign has struggled to meet deadlines, retain staff and even find the contact information of celebrities to participate in the videos … That firm, DD&T, is led by a filmmaker who had no prior experience making U.S. public health campaigns and is also the business partner of Caputo.”
As colleges reopened, many more young people got infected.
“Covid-19 cases surged nationally among 18- to 22-year-olds between Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, according to a report released by the CDC, which urged young adults as well as colleges and universities to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus,” Susan Svrluga reports. “Weekly cases among the age group jumped 55 percent across the country during that time and made up a bigger share of overall cases, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The agency said the increase in cases couldn’t fully be explained by ramped-up testing as colleges reopened for the fall.”
- More children in New York state have lost parents to covid-19 than in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Roughly 4,200 children suffered the loss of at least one parent between March and July of this year. By contrast, an estimated 3,051 children lost a parent on 9/11, according to researchers at United Hospital Fund and Boston Consulting Group. (Antonia Farzan)
- The Tennessee Titans confirmed eight positive tests among players and other personnel and have shut down in-person activities in what has become the NFL’s first covid outbreak, Mark Maske reports. The Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, also suspended in-person team activities, including practices and face-to-face meetings.
- Tennessee is removing all remaining coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses and large gatherings, Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced. Health departments in the state’s six largest counties, which include the cities of Nashville and Memphis, will be able to enforce their own local ordinances. But Lee told state legislators Tuesday that he was urging those communities to rethink their regulations so that the economy can “move forward.” (Antonia Farzan)
- Disney will lay off 28,000 people across its theme-park division in the U.S. as the virus slams its theme-park businesses. Most are part-time workers, but the news shows the grim outlook for the leisure industry. (Steven Zeitchik)
- After Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) threatened to cut off state funding, Miami’s school board agreed to open some schools more than two weeks earlier than planned. (Valerie Strauss)
- Democrats and the White House say they’re hopeful an economic relief deal is within reach. (Erica Werner)
The virus stole a chef’s sense of taste, and there’s no telling when it might come back.
“When covid-19 came for Dudu Mesquita, who prepares menus for restaurants all over Brazil, it took away his sense of taste and smell. Five weeks later, they still weren’t back completely, and his doctors couldn’t say if they ever would be. He wondered what that might mean for him. For what is a chef who cannot taste?” Terrence McCoy and Heloísa Traiano report. Mesquita is “one more person in this disease-racked country reckoning with how the coronavirus has altered their life. The virus has exacted a devastating toll on Brazil, infecting more than 4.7 million people — more than 1 in 50. The vast majority have survived. But many are not the same. … Gabriela Montenegro, 33, who’d belted out church hymns every Sunday, now can’t sing … Roberto Godoy, a 42-year-old triathlete, doesn’t know when he’ll compete again … But the sudden loss of taste and smell, the most distinct sign of a coronavirus infection, has proved particularly disorienting — and enduring. Studies haven’t determined how long it might last, but agree it could be a long time.”
Social media speed read
Some memorable reactions to the debate:
Videos of the day
Stephen Colbert said the debate was so messy that it made him look forward to the vice-presidential version next week:
Trevor Noah said the debate didn’t need a moderator but a UFC referee: