The Countdown: Trump, Biden crisscross through Midwest, each hitting 2 battleground states

Daily election 2020 updates on President Trump, Democrat Joe Biden and events related to the presidential campaign
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Every day until the election, Eyewitness News will have a special election edition of "The Countdown" to get you caught up with all of the day's political and campaign news.

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Friday, Oct. 30



Campaign trail
When Joe Biden was last in Iowa, his presidential campaign was on the verge of collapse and he was soundly trounced in the caucuses by a former Indiana mayor nearly 40 years his junior. He returned Friday as the Democratic nominee, believing he's just days away from becoming president-elect.

Biden's trip reflects the growing confidence among Democrats in the closing days of the campaign. Iowa, which Donald Trump won by 9 points in 2016, is among the clutch of GOP-leaning states that Biden is trying to bring back into the Democratic column. He'll also swing through Wisconsin on Friday while his running mate, Kamala Harris, courts voters in Texas, a longtime GOP bastion that Democrats insist is in play this year.

Trump, meanwhile, is playing defense in Michigan and Wisconsin, states he won four years ago. Trump and Biden were both in Minnesota, a longtime Democratic state that the Republican president is trying to flip.

Polling
The latest polling shows a tightening race in Pennsylvania. Election officials there do not count their votes very quickly, so it could be several days before we know officially who won the state.

Early voting
In NYC, more than 100,000 people voted Thursday, despite the bad weather. Voters in Brooklyn lead the boroughs in turnout so far. Expanding early voting hours begin this weekend: Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The New York State Supreme Court of Rockland County ruled in a lawsuit the NYCLU filed yesterday ordering immediate remedies to address long lines and inadequate accommodations for voters during early voting. The ruling requires the Rockland County Board of Elections to extend poll site hours by 2.5 hours per day for the remainder of early voting and to add signage offering accommodations for voters who require them, as required by state law.

Thursday, Oct. 29



Campaign trail
President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden are encouraging voters to turn out in person on Election Day next Tuesday, both campaigning in Florida, a state all but essential to the Republican's pathway to another term.

More than 73 million Americans have already voted, absentee or by mail, and Trump and Biden are trying to energize the millions more who will vote on Tuesday. While the Election Day vote traditionally favors Republicans and early votes tend toward Democrats, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 227,000 people in the United States, has injected new uncertainty.

Trump and Biden were appearing in Tampa hours apart on Thursday. They're visiting the western end of the state's Interstate 4 corridor, an area known for rapid residential growth, sprawling suburbs and its status as an ever-changing, hard-fought battleground during presidential elections.

Polling
A new poll gives Biden a slim lead in North Carolina. But a lot of voters have asked why trust the polls this time if they were so wrong four years ago.

Pollsters have adjusted their demographic models and they've increased the number of non-college educated white voters this year.

Also this time, there aren't many undecided voters. Four years ago, up to 20% were undecided in the final weeks of the election. This time, it's less than 5%.

Local race
Republican U.S. Rep. Peter King's impending retirement after nearly three decades as the aggrieved voice of bridge and tunnel New Yorkers has set off a scramble for control of his suburban Long Island swing district, with outside groups pouring in millions of dollars.

King's chosen successor, State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino, faces Democrat Jackie Gordon, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who moved to the U.S. from the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica when she was 7. Green Party candidate Harry Berger could split the vote, which is expected to go to one of the two major party candidates.

Republicans are fighting mightily to keep the seat, situated in an increasingly diverse swath of the island's South Shore. President Donald Trump narrowly took the district in 2016. Democrats see a rare opportunity to pick up a seat that had been out of reach while King was on the ballot.
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With fiv days left till the election, President Trump and Joe Biden took their campaign to the battlegound state of Florida.


Wednesday, Oct. 28



Final days to campaign
Joe Biden is focusing on COVID-19 in the final days of the election campaign, while President Donald Trump is anxious to talk about just about anything else.

Biden said Wednesday he is "not running on the false promises of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch" but will prioritize science if elected. He said Trump's handling of the pandemic is an "insult" to its victims.

Meanwhile, Trump continued using the campaign's last few days to keep up a whirlwind schedule focusing on economic growth and other achievements he claims for his first four years.

What do the polls say?
Polling shows in the swing states where the virus is spiking, that is hurting Trump's chance at re-election -- especially in Wisconsin, a state he won in 2016.

Contentious race in New York City's only Congressional swing district heats up
The candidates for Congress in New York City's only swing district are slugging it out in a contentious campaign, one directs much of their fury at a man who isn't on the ballot - Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Reminders
The hours for early voting Thursday in NYC are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Click here to find your polling location.
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In the final days of the election campaign, Joe Biden is focusing on COVID-19, while President Trump is highlighting the economy.


Tuesday, Oct. 27



Campaign trail
The election is seven days away and geography says a lot about political strategy. The candidates' schedules say a lot about the state of the race -- or at least how the campaigns perceive the state of the race.

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Georgia Tuesday -- a state where a Democrat for president has not won since Bill Clinton in 1992. Is it a sign that the Biden campaign feels confident in other battlegrounds and is now trying to win historically red states?

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump held rallies in three different states: Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska. He flipped Michigan and Wisconsin four years ago and Republicans appear to know those Rust Belt states are key to the president's re-election.

Polls
Nationally, Biden is holding on to an eight-point lead and leads in most of the contested states like North Carolina, Florida and Arizona.

Early voting
The NYC Board of Elections voted to extend early voting hours for the weekend due to the heavy turnout. Friday hours are now extended until 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday hours will start earlier, at 7 a.m.

After a record number of ballots cast in NYC, Mayor Bill de Blasio stood in line more than three hours to vote.
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With one week to go until the election, the candidates' campaign schedules say a lot about how they perceive the race.



Monday, Oct. 26



Fight for swing states
With just eight days to go until the election, if there was any doubt on what state has been labeled a must-win by the Republicans, take a look at President Trump's campaign schedule Monday: three different rallies in three different parts of Pennsylvania -- a state Trump narrowly won in 2016 by less than a point. With its 20 electoral votes, who wins Pennsylvania could win the election.

His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, is holding far fewer events in an effort to demonstrate that he's taking the worsening pandemic seriously.

Biden says he's adding Iowa and Wisconsin to his travel itinerary for the final week before Election Day, but insists he's not overconfident about his prospects of unseating President Donald Trump.

Biden made the comments Monday in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he sought to boost get-out-the-vote efforts.

Early voting
There has been an impressive turnout so far for early voting in New York. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers devoted hours to exercise their right over the weekend: 193,195 to be exact.

Saturday marked the first day New York allowed early voting in a presidential election, and the lines wrapping around polling sites for hours showed the eagerness of voters.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the Board of Elections to increase the number of voting machines. "This is a historic moment, they need to act like it's a historic moment."

The mayor added that there are machines that are currently being held for Election Day and said they need to be brought out immediately. He also called for an expansion of hours.

SCOTUS confirmation
A divided Senate is set to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, giving the country a ninth justice Monday as Republicans overpower Democratic opposition to secure President Donald Trump's nominee the week before Election Day.

Democratic leaders asked Vice President Mike Pence to stay away from presiding over her Senate confirmation due to potential health risks after his aides tested positive for COVID-19. But although Pence isn't needed to break a tie, the vote would present a dramatic opportunity for him to preside over confirmation of Trump's third Supreme Court justice.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and his leadership team wrote that not only would Pence's presence violate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, "it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy."
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Both President Donald Trump and his rival former VP Joe Biden hit the state of Pennsylvania on Monday with just days to go until the election.


Friday, Oct. 23



There are just 11 days until the presidential election, and the candidates are running out of time to sway undecided voters -- that is if there are any undecideds left.

Decided voters
Ratings for Thursday night's debate were down compared to the first one, a potential sign that people have already made up their minds. The website 538 reported virtually no change in polling preferences after the debate.

On top of that, more than 51 million Americans have already casted their ballots, including Vice President Mike Pence who voted Friday in Indiana. At least seven states, including new jersey, have already surpassed half of their vote totals, including in person, from 2016.

Campaign Trail
The Trump campaign launched a new ad in Pennsylvania because of what Joe Biden said in the debate about the oil and gas industry.

Debate Reaction
Most pundits say that President Trump did much better than in his first debate, but it may not be enough. Polls show Trump significantly behind Joe Biden. However, the president on Friday predicted a huge and surprising Republican win will come on November 3.

The recent polling shows Joe Biden is doing much better than Hillary Clinton did four years ago in traditional red states. For example, in Kansas, Trump is leading by only seven points. In Montana he's only up by eight. Both states which Trump won by more than 2o points in 2016.

Early Voting
Early voting begins on Saturday in New York. In New York City you can go only to the early voting location that you are assigned to. Outside of the city, you can cast your ballot in any early voting site in your county.

Early voting will continue through Sunday, November 1. In the five boroughs, polling sites will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the weekends, and the hours vary on weekdays.

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There are just 11 days until the presidential election, and the candidates are running out of time to sway undecided voters -- that is if there are any undecideds left.



Thursday, Oct. 22



Final debate
There are just 12 days to go until the presidential election and Thursday's debate will likely be the final high-profile event of the season. The second and last debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will start at 9 p.m. in Nashville.

This time, Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will have their microphones muted for portions of the debate, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced.

"I'll participate. I just think it's very unfair," Trump said when asked by reporters about the change on Monday.

60 Minutes interview
President Trump sat down with "60 Minutes" and took the unprecedented step of posting his entire interview on Facebook, which breaks agreements the White House made with CBS.

COVID latest
Both Trump and Biden have tested negative Thursday for COVID-19.

SCOTUS update
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans powered past a Democratic boycott Thursday to advance Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate, keeping President Donald Trump's pick on track for confirmation before the Nov. 3 election.

Democratic senators refused to show up in protest of the GOP's rush to install Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Never has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election.
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Bill Ritter has a preview of President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden's final debate in this edition of "The Countdown."


Wednesday, Oct. 21



Campaign events
Democrats turned to one of their party's biggest stars, former President Barack Obama, to sway those still wavering. Obama held a socially distanced drive-in rally in Philadelphia for his first in-person 2020 campaign event for Joe Biden.

Pennsylvania is considered one of the battleground states where the race between Biden and Trump is close. Trump won the state in 2016.

Meanwhile, President Trump will campaign Wednesday night in North Carolina -- another crucial swing state.

Early voting
With just 13 days until the election, an incredible number of Americans have already cast their ballots -- more than any other election -- because of the pandemic.

According to some estimates, there have already been 10 times the number of those who voted early in 2016.

Final debate
The final presidential debate takes place Thursday night. Watch a special edition of 2020 starting at 8 p.m. on ABC followed by the debate at 9 p.m.

This time, Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will have their microphones muted for portions of the debate, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced.
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Bill Ritter hosts "The Countdown" to keep you informed with the day's political and campaign news just 13 days before the election.


Tuesday, Oct. 20



Battleground states
With just 14 days to go until the election, there is a growing focus in key battleground states. Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, has become a priority for both campaigns.

President Trump will hold a rally in Eerie on Tuesday night while former President Obama will hold his first campaign event for Joe Biden Wednesday in Philadelphia.

First Lady Melania Trump was scheduled to join the president at Tuesday's rally, but has since canceled as she continues to recover from COVID-19.

NYPD preps
The NYPD has released details about its security plan for Election Day to ensure all voters are safe while casting a ballot. Chief of Department Terence Monahan said that officers will be posted at all 1,201 polling stations around the city and at the 88 locations that will host early voting -- starting Saturday.

There are currently no known threats in connection with Election Day.

Reminders
You still have time to request a ballot to vote by mail in New York. The deadline is October 27. In-person voting starts on Saturday.

If you are registered to vote in New Jersey, you will automatically receive a ballot to vote by mail this year.

And there's still time to pre-register if you live in Connecticut. The deadline is Oct. 27, however, the state does allow same-day voter registration. Mail-in ballots are also being sent to all registered voters.
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Bill Ritter hosts "The Countdown" to keep you informed with the day's political and campaign news.


Monday, Oct. 19



Trump attacks Fauci
There are only 15 days to go until the presidential election and if President Trump is trying to shift the conversation away from the pandemic, he has an interesting way of doing so. On Monday, he attacked Dr. Fauci, the nation's most respected infectious disease expert, and called him a "disaster."

Campaign trail
President Trump was in Arizona on Monday where he held two large rallies. In 2016, he won Arizona by 4 percentage points. Trump will be criss-crossing the nation on the second-to-last week before the election.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is taking a different approach and is staying off the trail to instead prepare for this week's debate.

Upcoming debate
The Commission on Presidential Debates met Monday afternoon to discuss potential rule changes to the final contest between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, two members of the commission tell CNN.

President Trump's campaign is demanding a change to Thursday's debate format. The Trump campaign wants the debate to only focus on foreign policy -- rather than six different topics. Despite the complaint, the campaign says the president will participate in the debate.

Early voting in NJ
An estimated 1.7 million voters in New Jersey have already cast their ballots by mail. President Trump's reelection campaign has been suing to try to stop the state's vote-by-mail plan. New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way address the president's unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud on Monday.

While the election is being conducted primarily by mail, there will be at least one polling location available in every New Jersey municipality for in-person voting on Election Day.
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Bill Ritter hosts "The Countdown" to keep you informed with the day's political and campaign news.


Friday, Oct. 16



Town Halls
President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden squared off, in a way, in dueling televised town halls on Thursday, that showcased striking differences in temperament, views on racial justice and approaches to a pandemic that has reshaped the nation.

President Trump was defensive about his administration's handling of the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 217,000 lives in the United States, and evasive when pressed about whether he took a required COVID-19 test before his first debate with Biden. Angry and combative, Trump refused to denounce the QAnon conspiracy group - and only testily did so regarding white supremacists.

Biden denounced the White House's handling of the virus, declaring that it was at fault for closing a pandemic response office established by the Obama administration in which he served. Though vague at times, he suggested he will offer clarity on his position on expanding the Supreme Court if Trump's nominee to the bench is seated before Election Day.

The Democratic National Committee is hitting President Donald Trump over his signature issue, the economy, with the first in a series of memos meant to make the president's "closing argument" for him.

Early voting
Meanwhile, more than 17 million Americans have already cast ballots in the 2020 election, a record-shattering avalanche of early votes driven both by Democratic enthusiasm and a pandemic that has transformed the way the nation votes.

The total represents 12% of all the votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, even as eight states are not yet reporting their totals and voters still have more than two weeks to cast ballots.
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Bill Ritter hosts "The Countdown" to keep you informed with the day's political and campaign news.



Thursday, Oct. 15



The election is now 19 days away, and both President Trump and Joe Biden will be on network television tonight -- just not in the same room.
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Bill ritter hosts "The Countdown" to keep you informed with the day's political and campaign news.


This was supposed to be a huge night with the second presidential debate, but when President Trump got coronavirus the Debate Commission said it should be a virtual debate.

However, President Trump said he didn't want to do that.

Instead, there will be separate, dueling town halls. Joe Biden will be at a town hall on ABC tonight, while President Trump will be at a town hall on NBC.

Both candidates will have a just a fraction of the viewers. Overall, the wounded party is the American voter.

Wednesday, Oct. 14



Candidates target messages
The election is 20 days away and the candidates continue to try to refine their messages to targeted constituencies. President Trump seemed to be targeting seniors with a new campaign ad comparing his record to Joe Biden's, but then completely undercut that message with one single tweet.
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Bill Ritter hosts "The Countdown" to keep you informed with the day's political and campaign news as the 2020 Presidential election nears.


Trump posted a meme that showed a photoshopped Biden sitting in a wheelchair in a retirement home. A second tweet is coming under fire after the president expressed support to California Republicans after they installed dozens of unauthorized absentee ballot drop boxes and falsely labeled them as official.

Later Wednesday, the president will attend a rally in Iowa. He won the Hawkeye State four years ago, but polls show a tight race this time around.

As for former Vice President Joe Biden, he was off the campaign trail Wednesday after stumping in Florida on Tuesday. Later in the afternoon, former President Obama recorded a podcast and spoke about the state of the election.

ABC Town Hall

Biden will participate in an ABC News Town Hall event on Thursday in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos will moderate.

NBC News confirmed Wednesday that it will host a town hall with Trump at the same time.

SCOTUS hearings
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett presented herself in Wednesday's final round of Senate confirmation questioning as a judge committed to a strict reading of the Constitution, holding deep personal and religious beliefs but vowing to keep an open mind on what would be a 6-3 conservative-majority court.

Senate Republicans are championing President Donald Trump's pick, an appeals court judge who adheres to an "originalist" constitutional approach. Doubtful Democrats are digging deeper into the judge's views on health care, abortion, racial equity and voting rights, but they are running out of time to stop her quick confirmation.

The conservative late Justice Antonin Scalia was her mentor, but Barrett said when confronted with his rulings and outspoken comments that she is her own judge.

Tuesday, Oct. 13



Campaign trail
With just 21 days to go until Election Day, the candidates are hitting the battleground states. One day after President Trump held a rally in Florida and threw masks into the crowd despite not wearing one himself, Joe Biden was in the Sunshine State. Earlier in the day, Biden said former President Barack Obama will hit the campaign trail to stump for him.
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Bill Ritter hosts "The Countdown" to keep you informed with the day's political and campaign news as the 2020 Presidential election nears.


President Trump will be in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night -- a key state that he was able to flip in the 2016 race. Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence was in Wisconsin -- another state that was crucial to the Republican victory four years ago.

Voter registration deadlines
Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in New Jersey. The deadline in Connecticut is in two weeks on Oct. 27.

SCOTUS hearings
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett batted back Democrats' skeptical questions on abortion, gun rights and election disputes in lively Senate confirmation testimony Tuesday, insisting she would bring no personal agenda to the court but would decide cases as they come.

The 48-year-old appellate court judge declared her conservative views with often colloquial language, but refused many specifics. She declined to say whether she would recuse herself from any election-related cases involving President Donald Trump, who nominated her to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is pressing to have her confirmed before the Nov. 3 election.

In other news
Mitt Romney released a scathing statement condemning both President Trump and the Democrats, pleading for them to "lower the heat" during this election season.

And in Virginia, the state's online voter registration portal crashed Tuesday morning. The website crashed after a fiber optic cable was cut. Foul play was not expected.

2020 VOTE RESOURCES
Voter registration, information and resources from Vote.org
League of Women Voters of the City of New York

Board of Elections in New York City
NY Voter Registration and Poll Site Search
2020 VOTE COVERAGE
Eyewitness News Elections Coverage
ABC News Elections Coverage
FiveThiryEight.com

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