2020 Election Live Updates: Trump Floats Whether to ‘Delay the Election,’ Something He Cannot Legally Do

Trailing badly in the polls, the president baselessly suggested the November election would be “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT” in history.

Since the pandemic began, Democrats have feared that President Trump would seek to cancel or postpone November’s general election. On Thursday, for the first time, Mr. Trump in a tweet suggested the vote be delayed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote,” something he cannot legally do.

Even for Mr. Trump, suggesting a delay in the election is an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum that will increase the chances that Mr. Trump and his core supporters don’t accept the legitimacy of the election should he lose to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Mr. Trump wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

While the White House has officially denied Mr. Trump has any interest in changing the date of the election from Nov. 3, some of his allies and top aides have on occasion floated the possibility.

Mr. Trump has no authority to unilaterally change the date of the election, which is set by federal law. His suggestion comes as polls show him trailing far behind Mr. Biden in surveys of nearly all of the key battleground states. And Mr. Trump’s claim that mail voting leads to inaccurate counts or fraud is false.

But the president’s sustained attacks on mail voting, combined with Democratic efforts to encourage more of their voters to request and submit absentee ballots by mail, has led to a significant Democratic advantage in mail voting. In April, the liberal candidate for a Wisconsin state Supreme Court race performed about 10 percentage points better in ballots cast by mail than she did on Election Day, according to a New York Times analysis of the returns.

During the presidential primaries, states that shifted their balloting largely to the mail saw far larger voter turnout than did states that held their contests primarily in person. In Montana, which sent ballots to every registered voter in the state, 63 percent of registered voters cast ballots, the highest percentage in the nation, according to the National Vote at Home Institute, which encourages voting by mail. Seven of the nine lowest-turnout states held contests primarily in person, the institute found.

When the funeral for Representative John Lewis is held on Thursday, he will be eulogized by former President Barack Obama. Another former president, Bill Clinton, will also speak at the service, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, according to an aide. And a third, George W. Bush, is also expected to attend.

The only living former president who will not attend is Jimmy Carter, 95, who along his wife, Rosalynn, “are not traveling these days and are sending condolences in writing,” a spokeswoman said Thursday.

But Mr. Trump, who declined to visit the Capitol Rotunda where Mr. Lewis’s body was lying in state, won’t be there either. His absence is not a surprise; if anything, admirers of Mr. Lewis’s lifelong fight for the rights of Black people, for voting rights and for his wish for people to make “good trouble” find the president’s absence a welcome reprieve.

Mr. Lewis, a civil rights icon who represented Atlanta in Congress for more than three decades, died on July 17 at age 80, amid a national reckoning over racism and police brutality. This week, he became the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.

He submitted a New York Times op-ed before his death to be published on the day of his funeral. “Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe,” he wrote. “In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

Mr. Trump’s avoidance of celebrations of high-profile figures who criticized him publicly is becoming its own tradition.

For the second time in his term, as most of Washington, D.C., and people across the country have grieved for a larger-than-life public figure, Mr. Trump has stood apart in defiance. It is reminiscent of Mr. Trump’s performance when Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, a Vietnam War hero and a vocal Trump detractor, died in 2018. Mr. Trump offered a perfunctory statement and the barest of acknowledgments by lowering the flags at the White House.

Unwilling to be gracious to an adversary or to cede center stage, Mr. Trump is treating Mr. Lewis’s death as if it were incidental.

“No, I won’t be going,” Mr. Trump told a reporter on Monday who asked if he would make the trip to the Capitol, where Mr. Biden, among other political luminaries, paid respects to Mr. Lewis.

At this point in his presidency, few voters expect more from Mr. Trump. But whether they would like more from their president is one of the questions he will have to face on Election Day.

At fund-raising events where he has pulled in more than $24 million for Mr. Biden’s campaign in the last two months, Mr. Obama has privately unleashed on Mr. Trump to party donors, bringing up sexual assault accusations against him and warning of his efforts to push “nativist, racist, sexist” fears and resentments.

With less than 100 days until the election, Mr. Obama has laid out the stakes of 2020 in forceful fashion. He has urged support for Mr. Biden while worrying about the state of American democracy itself, even making an oblique reference to Nazi Germany, according to notes made from recordings of Mr. Obama’s remarks, donors and others who have been on the calls.

Mr. Obama remains one of the Democratic Party’s biggest fund-raising draws. A virtual conversation on Tuesday with the actor George Clooney sold out of tickets that ranged from $250 to as much as $250,000.

Donors who have paid six-figure sums to see Mr. Obama on Zoom — he held two other, more intimate, conversations for donors with Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn and a major Democratic donor, and J.B. Pritzker, the billionaire governor of Illinois — have been privy to wide-ranging question-and-answer sessions with the former president.

During his conversation with Mr. Pritzker, Mr. Obama spoke about how Mr. Trump has a core base that is “just glued to Fox News and Breitbart and Limbaugh and just this conservative echo chamber — and so, they’re going to turn out to vote.”

“What he has unleashed,” Mr. Obama added, “and what he continues to try to tap into is the fears and anger and resentment of people who, in some cases, really are having a tough time and have seen their prospects, or communities where they left, declining. And Trump tries to tap into that and redirect in nativist, racist, sexist ways.”

Mr. Trump vowed on Wednesday to protect suburbanites from low-income housing being built in their neighborhoods, making an appeal to white suburban voters by trying to stir up racist fears about affordable housing and the people who live there.

In a tweet and later in remarks during a visit to Texas, Mr. Trump painted a false picture of the suburbs as under siege and ravaged by crime, using fear-mongering language that has become something of a rhetorical flourish in campaign against Mr. Biden.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter that “people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream” would “no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.” The president was referring to the administration’s decision last week to roll back an Obama-era program intended to combat racial segregation in suburban housing. The program expanded provisions in the Fair Housing Act to encourage diversification and “foster inclusive communities.”

“Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down,” he wrote, even though there was no evidence that the program led to an increase in crime.

The tweet, sent from aboard Air Force One as Mr. Trump traveled to Texas, was the latest example of the president stoking racial division as he seeks to win over voters in his bid for re-election. White suburban voters, particularly women, were key to his victory in 2016 but are slipping away from him.

Mr. Trump’s latest campaign ads warn of left-wing mobs destroying American cities. His recent White House comments have depicted a rampage of violence and a “radical movement” to dissolve the police. His Twitter feed has sounded alarms over an Obama-era fair housing rule he has framed as a threat to “The Suburban Housewives of America” and the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream.”

It all amounts, with little subtlety, to a play on the perceived fears of suburban voters. But there are several reasons to believe that a strategy that worked for Richard Nixon on the heels of urban unrest in 1968 is less likely to be effective for Mr. Trump in 2020.

For one, these are not the American suburbs of the 1960s (and they have a lot fewer housewives). The scale of urban violence and the threats to that suburban lifestyle are a faint echo of that time. And while polling shows that suburban voters disapprove of the president’s job in general, they disapprove even more of his handling of the very issues he is trying to elevate.

Over all, just 38 percent of voters in the suburbs approve of Mr. Trump’s job performance compared with 59 percent who disapprove, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll in June. Suburban voters disapproved of Mr. Trump’s handling of recent protests and race relations by an even wider margin, and 65 percent had a favorable view of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Nearly a year after the El Paso shooting, the deadliest anti-Latino attack in modern American history, Michael R. Bloomberg’s gun control organization is releasing new advertisements directed toward Latino voters in battleground states including Texas, Arizona and Florida.

The group, Everytown for Gun Safety, said it planned to spend more than $2 million on digital, radio and television advertising in both English and Spanish, starting in Texas.

The group’s advertising criticizes Mr. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, for not doing more to enact stricter gun control laws since the El Paso attack, accusing them of “empty words and empty promises.” The police said that the suspect in the shooting told them he had been targeting Mexicans and that he had left a manifesto saying he was carrying out the attack in “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

“Victory for gun sense candidates up and down the ballot is impossible without the support of Latino voters,” said Charlie Kelly, a senior adviser to the group, Everytown for Gun Safety. “We’re making it a priority to reach the Latino community this cycle with gun safety messages that we know will resonate.”

The group also released new polling showing that Latino voters are more likely to support gun control measures enthusiastically than they were before the El Paso shooting. More than two-thirds of Latino voters said they would not vote for a candidate who does not support background checks on all gun sales and indicated the issue is equally important as health care, job creation, racial equity and protecting children at the border, according to the poll, which was conducted by Equis Research, a Washington-based firm that focuses on Latino voters.

As the coronavirus spread into states that lean Republican, policymakers there have been forced to change course.

Reopening plans have been scuttled, Republican leaders in Washington have broken ranks with Mr. Trump on response policy, and the president himself eventually declared that Americans should wear protective masks.

At the grass-roots level, however, it’s not clear how much the partisan differences in people’s views of the pandemic have changed. There is some evidence of a narrowing on some fronts, but other survey data suggests that Americans disagree about the severity of the crisis as much today as they did two months ago, when people in Democratic counties were hit hardest by it.

To the extent that the presence of the virus is driving attitude change, the infection data shows why. Through late May, counties that supported Mr. Trump in 2016 accounted for just 26 percent of reported cases and 21 percent of deaths, despite making up 45 percent of the nation’s population.

Over the past two months, however, Republican-leaning counties have accounted for 43 percent of new cases and a third of deaths. Of the 100 counties that have seen the most case growth per capita over the past two months, 71 of them backed Mr. Trump in the last election.

A survey released on Thursday by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found Mr. Biden ahead of Mr. Trump in Florida by a margin of 50 to 46 percent, just within the margin of error of four percentage points, with 4 percent of respondents undecided.

It is the latest in a string of polls showing Mr. Biden in front of Mr. Trump in the president’s adopted home state, the nation’s largest battleground.

The Mason-Dixon poll, which surveyed 625 registered voters by phone from July 20-23, shows Mr. Biden beating Mr. Trump among independents, women, Black and Hispanic people, and younger voters, while Mr. Trump leads among men, white people and older voters.

An earlier poll by Quinnipiac University showed the former vice president leading Mr. Trump by 13 percentage points, significantly outside the margin of error — a worrisome sign for Mr. Trump in a state he won four years ago.

In that July 23 poll, 51 percent of respondents supported Mr. Biden, compared with 38 percent who supported Mr. Trump; the margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

A man accused of setting a fire to the Arizona Democratic Party headquarters this month was arrested on Wednesday, the authorities said.

The man, Matthew Egler, 29, was arrested on a charge of arson of an occupied structure, the Phoenix Police Department said. Mr. Egler, the police said, was a former volunteer at the office but had been recently barred from volunteer service.

It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer, or why he had been barred from volunteering.

The fire took place after midnight on July 24 at the party’s offices in downtown Phoenix, causing damage but no injuries.

The Phoenix police said that Mr. Egler had posted information on social media that linked him to the fire. Investigators were also able to connect a car seen in a surveillance video from that night to a relative of Mr. Egler. The video showed a man arriving in the car and breaking glass to get into the building.

“We are deeply saddened and shocked by today’s news, but appreciate the swift action by law enforcement to ensure that the suspect is in custody,” the Arizona Democratic Party said in a statement.

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Emily Badger, Nate Cohn, Johnny Diaz, Reid J. Epstein, Sydney Ember, Robert Gebeloff, Shane Goldmacher, Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, Patricia Mazzei, Jennifer Medina and Glenn Thrush.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/us/elections/biden-vs-trump.html

News – 2020 Election Live Updates: Trump Floats Whether to ‘Delay the Election,’ Something He Cannot Legally Do

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *