- Early voting expands across the US, almost 20 million have already voted.
- Donald Trump is to speak to seniors in Florida before heading to Georgia today.
- Joe Biden focuses on healthcare at campaign events in Michigan.
- Biden’s campaign outraised Trump’s by $135m in September.
Friday, October 16:
10:30 ET – Christie says he was wrong not to wear mask in White House
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that he was wrong not to wear a mask at the White House, after he and Trump both contracted the coronavirus.
In a statement, Christie said he has recovered from COVID-19 after a weeklong stay in a hospital’s intensive care unit. He called on all political leaders to advocate for face coverings, with the practice becoming increasingly politicized even as the pandemic has killed more than 217,000 Americans.
“I believed that when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that and I and many others underwent every day,” Christie said. “I was wrong.”
10:20 ET – Nebraska Senator rips Trump over COVID-19, foreign policy
Ben Sasse a Republican US Senator told Nebraska constituents in a telephone town hall meeting that Trump has “flirted with white supremacists,” mocks Christian evangelicals in private, and “kisses dictators’ butts.”
Sasse, who is running for a second term representing a reliably Republican state, made the comments in response to a question about why he has been willing to publicly criticize a president of his own party.
He also criticised Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and said Trump’s family has treated the presidency “like a business opportunity.”
10:00 ET – It has been one year since Trump and Pelosi have spoken
An emblem of political polarisation in Washington: Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have not spoken directly since October 16, 2019, exactly one year ago.
On that date, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders walked out of a meeting at the White House about Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. As tensions rose, Trump called Pelosi a “third-rate politician” and shortly thereafter, the Democratic leaders left the meeting.
Nancy Pelosi needs help fast! There is either something wrong with her “upstairs,” or she just plain doesn’t like our great Country. She had a total meltdown in the White House today. It was very sad to watch. Pray for her, she is a very sick person!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2019
Pelosi this week said any negotiations she has with the White House are through Trump’s intermediaries, not with Trump himself.
09:45 ET – White House was warned Russia targeted Giuliani as misinformation messenger: Report
The Washington Post is reporting the White House was warned last year that Trump’s lawyer and adviser, Rudy Giuliani, was the target of a Russian intelligence disinformation operation.
The warnings led National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien to alert Trump that any information Giuliani brought back from his trips to Ukraine – including information about Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings – should be considered as having Russia’s fingerprints on it. Trump reportedly “shrugged his shoulders” and dismissed the concerns.
Giuliani is reportedly one of the sources of a disputed New York Post report that was published this week about Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine.
09:30 ET – Biden significantly outraises Trump in September
Joe Biden and the Democrats have announced their record-breaking September fundraising haul: $383m, and it was suspected this would put him far ahead of Trump’s campaign. Now we know how much further ahead Biden is.
Trump’s campaign and Republicans raised $247.5m in September and ended the month with $251.4m cash on hand. Biden’s campaign announced having $432m in the bank as of September 30.
The campaigns will have one final pre-election fundraising disclosure next week which will give a snapshot of how much they have on hand as of October 14.
09:15 ET – Trump’s smile and Mister Rogers
Two moments from last night’s duelling Trump-Biden town halls touched on one unlikely subject: Smiles.
Before asking a question about immigration, a voter said to Trump: “I have to say, you have a great smile … You’re so handsome when you smile,” prompting a wide grin from the president.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 16, 2020
Interestingly, after the town hall, the Miami New Times caught up with that voter, Paulette Dale, who told the newspaper that she is voting for Biden. “I wish he would smile more and talk less,” she said about Trump.
As for Biden, the Trump campaign senior adviser, Mercedes Schlapp, was growing frustrated with the tone of the Biden town hall and compared it with “watching an episode of” Mister Rogers Neighborhood. She was referring to Fred Rogers, the late children’s television show host who continues to bring smiles to the faces of children and adults and is lauded for his kindness and patience.
— Mercedes Schlapp (@mercedesschlapp) October 16, 2020
Her remarks caused Mister Rogers to trend on Twitter with many responses finding humour in Schlapp’s attempt at an insult turning into an inadvertent compliment of Biden.
So you are saying Biden was great? Because most Americans would prefer mr Rogers at this point
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) October 16, 2020
09:00 ET – Twenty-one million Americans have already voted
Turnout totals for early voting – expanded across the US due to the pandemic – has shot past 21 million, far outpacing this point in previous elections.
The US Elections Project, which tracks early voting across the country, has reported that 21,231,821 people have already voted ahead of Election Day, November 3. In 2016, the total number of Americans who voted early by mail or in-person early voting was 47 million.
More Democrats than Republicans have cast their ballots so far, however, election experts caution that it is unknown exactly who those voters voted for until those votes are counted. In addition, Republicans historically have participated less in early voting and traditionally turn out in larger numbers in person on Election Day.
Read yesterday’s updates here.