SINGLE DIGITS: NINE DAYS until Election Day.
IT SHOULD BE ABSOLUTELY NO SURPRISE that the coronavirus continues to spread in the White House, considering masks are treated as a novelty, and a flimsy rapid test is taken as gospel.
MARC SHORT, the VP’s chief of staff and a longtime fixture of MIKE PENCE’S inner circle, was diagnosed with the virus. MARTY OBST, a Pence political adviser, also has the virus. As do three other PENCE world figures, according to NYT’S MAGGIE HABERMAN.
REMEMBER, PENCE is the head of the White House Covid task force. And his staff is now in the eye of an outbreak.
PENCE has been a close contact of SHORT, but will continue campaigning. The White House’s argument has been that PENCE is an essential worker. MARK MEADOWS on CNN’s “STATE OF THE UNION”: “Actually, he’s not just campaigning. He’s working.”
WILL PENCE insist on being in the chair for the final vote for AMY CONEY BARRETT’S confirmation to the Supreme Court?
D.C. HAS a 1.3% positivity rate. (h/t Roll Call’s NIELS LESNIEWSKI)
— DAVE WASSERMAN asked on Twitter whether BIDEN will go to Texas this week, the last week of the campaign. A fun question — we’d guess yes, right? Late this week.
WAPO’S JOSH DAWSEY and RACHAEL BADE: “Trump privately tells donors it would be ‘very tough’ for GOP to hold Senate”: “‘I think the Senate is tough actually. The Senate is very tough,’ Trump said at a fundraiser Thursday at the Nashville Marriott, according to an attendee. ‘There are a couple senators I can’t really get involved in. I just can’t do it. You lose your soul if you do. I can’t help some of them. I don’t want to help some of them.’”
— THE BIZARRE THING HERE is that TRUMP is indicating that he thinks his involvement would help in some of these Senate races, whereas the opposite is probably true.
CHUCK TODD had COREY LEWANDOWSKI on NBC’s “MEET THE PRESS”: “Does the president really think that Republicans have a better chance at winning the House than they do at holding the Senate?”
LEWANDOWSKI: “You know, I don’t think so. Look, this president’s been out aggressively campaigning for members of the U.S. Senate. He’s asked his surrogates, including me, to go out and help. I was in Arizona on Thursday helping raise money for Martha McSally, one of our battleground states. And so, this president’s been very forward in helping U.S. Senate candidates around the country be successful. He’s helped raise money. He’s got a great partnership with Senate leader Mitch McConnell. They’ve raised money together, and we feel very, very strongly that we’re going to retain our majority in the U.S. Senate.”
RNC CHAIR RONNA MCDANIEL on the Senate landscape on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: “This is a tight race, we know this, but the trend lines are good in these states. You’re seeing McSally gain momentum. You also didn’t mention candidates like John James and Jason Lewis, who [have] competitive races against Democratic incumbents.”
— THE REALCLEARPOLITICS POLL AVERAGE has Sen. TINA SMITH (D-Minn.) beating LEWIS 46.3-40.5.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.) disclosed raising $398,178 on Friday.
THE SENATE is in session today. ICYMI: Sen. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-Alaska) will vote for the Barrett nomination. Front page of the Anchorage Daily News
JAKE TAPPER had MEADOWS and Speaker NANCY PELOSI on CNN’s “STATE OF THE UNION”:
— MEADOWS declined to comment on how many people in the White House have tested positive in the last week.
WHAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT … MEADOWS: “So, here’s what we have to do. We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”
TAPPER: “Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?” MEADOWS: “Because it is a contagious virus. Just like the flu, it’s contagious.” TAPPER: “Yes, but why not make efforts to contain it?” MEADOWS: “Well, we are making efforts to contain it.” The video
COVID RELIEF NEGOTIATION UPDATE … TAPPER had news on Covid relief, as well, with PELOSI and MEADOWS on the program.
MEADOWS danced around the particulars of the bill, and whether Senate Republicans were going to vote for it. “We’re not Nancy Pelosi. We’re not going to opine on a bill and pass it before we’ve read it. … I do have a commitment from Leader McConnell that if we get an agreement, he’s willing to bring it to the floor and get it passed.” FWIW: MCCONNELL has not made this promise publicly.
— PELOSI said the two sides still have still not come to agreement on a testing plan, which was an open issue early last week and seen as easy to fix by both sides. Remember: Washington’s Most Eager Man, Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN, said he would accept PELOSI’S testing and tracing plan, which clearly was not the case. The two sides have not agreed on the tracing portion.
PELOSI said she sent a list of open issues to the administration Friday and she expects to hear back Monday. “We’re ready, we can change some words in the bill, should they come back with some modifications.”
— PELOSI said she would work with MCCONNELL and TRUMP in the lame duck even if Democrats win the presidency and Senate majority.
DEPT. OF WISHFUL THINKING? … PELOSI to TAPPER: “We want to do it as soon as possible. I thought the president did too. And that was part of the leverage that each side had — that we both wanted an agreement. Why would we even be talking to each other if we didn’t believe that we could reach an agreement? So again, it could happen this week in the House, but that’s up to Mitch as to whether it would happen in the Senate and go to the president’s desk, which is our hope and prayer.”
TRUTH BE TOLD: Our committee sources tell us they are making progress, but do not believe a deal can be reached any earlier than Wednesday. There are plenty of people who say no deal will be reached at all until after the election.
N.B.: PELOSI told TAPPER she would run for another term as speaker if Dems win the House.
WHAT AMERICA IS READING … Miami Herald: “CAMPAIGN PUTS FOCUS ON FLORIDA” … Orlando Sentinel: “Trump, Biden recruit lawyers: Looking to take the election to court in Florida” … Tampa Bay Times: “Trump voters want more of the same” … Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “State races dominated by top of national ticket: Down-ticket candidates can’t escape race for president” …
… Chicago Tribune: “Polls overwhelmingly show Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan: Are they right this time?” … Wichita Eagle: “U.S. Senate race most costly election in Kansas’ history” … Fayetteville Observer (N.C.): “Trump goes to bat for Lumbee tribe during Lumberton campaign event” … Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “How GOP’s Wisconsin base has shifted”
THE PRESIDENT’S SUNDAY: At 10:30 a.m., TRUMP will leave the White House for Andrews, where he’ll fly to New Hampshire. At 12:30 p.m., he’ll speak at a rally in Londonderry before flying to Bangor, Maine. He will leave Bangor at 3:50 p.m. for the White House. Tonight, he’ll host a Halloween event at 6:15 p.m.
THE VP’S SUNDAY: PENCE will fly to North Carolina at 4:45 p.m. He will speak at a rally at 6 p.m., and will return to D.C. at 7:50 p.m.
THE BIDENS’ SUNDAY: The Bidens will speak during a virtual “I Will Vote” concert.
KAMALA HARRIS’ SUNDAY: HARRIS and DOUG EMHOFF will travel to Detroit, Pontiac and Troy, Mich. They will go to a church service in Detroit, and speak at two canvas kickoff events and a vote rally in Pontiac. They’ll participate in the “I Will Vote” concert in the evening.
THE CONSERVATIVE UNION LEADER in New Hampshire has endorsed BIDEN for president: “Building this country up sits squarely within the skill set of Joseph Biden. We have found Mr. Biden to be a caring, compassionate and professional public servant. He has repeatedly expressed his desire to be a president for all of America, and we take him at his word. Joe Biden may not be the president we want, but in 2020 he is the president we desperately need. He will be a president to bring people together and right the ship of state.” The full editorial
THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK AHEAD: TRUMP will be traveling every day between now and Election Day. He will be in Pennsylvania on Monday, and Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska on Tuesday.
BIDEN will go to Atlanta and Warm Springs, Ga., on Tuesday. BARACK OBAMA will also be on the road this week for BIDEN, including a stop in Orlando on Tuesday. Orlando Sentinel
WHY TRUMP IS GOING TO DEEP RED DISTRICTS, by NYT’s ANNIE KARNI in Gastonia, N.C.: “In this final sprint of the campaign, Mr. Trump is now holding up to three rallies a day to try to ‘juice’ his base, in the words of advisers, as he bleeds support among the suburban voters who helped fuel his victory in 2016. His trip to this bedrock Trump county, and to Wisconsin and Ohio suburbs and exurbs on Saturday where his once-solid support is sliding, reflect his need to energize as much of his base as he can since many swing voters are now behind former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and there are few undecided voters left. …
“Mr. Trump’s appearance in this town of 77,000 on Wednesday night — where he referred to President Barack Obama by his middle name, ‘Hussein,’ and claimed, inaccurately, that the virus was ‘rounding the corner’ — was not intended to win back the suburban women voters who have drifted away from him over the past four years. That is a hill too steep to climb at this point, in this state: Some internal polls show Mr. Trump trailing Mr. Biden by double digits in the suburbs. The rally’s purpose, campaign aides said, was to activate his base. There was the added practical matter of simply securing a friendly venue in the middle of a pandemic that would allow him to hold a mass gathering for more than 20,000 fans.”
MERIDITH MCGRAW: “Trump team bets on local coverage to cover cash shortfall”: “The cash-hungry Trump campaign has turned to a cheaper strategy to try to remain on the airwaves, flooding TV and radio through local media bookings and back-to-back-to-back rallies.
“But the gambit has been challenged by a trail of negative headlines that have followed the president: articles about rallies that eschew pandemic guidelines, news of people sickened by coronavirus afterward, spats with local officials that dominate regional coverage before and after a visit.”
MARC CAPUTO and SABRINA RODRÍGUEZ: “Republicans crash Florida early vote, eating into Democrats’ lead”: “After weeks of Democrats outvoting them by mail, Republican voters stormed early voting precincts in person this week, taking large bites out of their opponents’ historic lead in pre-Election Day ballots. The Democratic advantage was still huge as of Saturday morning: 387,000 ballots. But that’s a 21 percent reduction from Democrats’ high water mark, set three days prior. The election is in [nine] days.”
ALEX BURNS goes deep on BIDEN’S relationships with cops in an installment of The Long Run series. The story, on A1 of the NYT
BIG READ … WAPO’S PHIL RUCKER and SHANE HARRIS: “Tumult at home, ailing alliances abroad: Why Trump’s America has been a ‘gift’ to Putin”
BEN SCHRECKINGER in Scranton, Pa.: “Voters ask who abandoned Scranton, Biden or Trump?”
LONG READ … WAPO’S JOSH DAWSEY, ROZ HELDERMAN and DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: “How Trump abandoned his pledge to ‘drain the swamp’”: “[A high-dollar fundraiser attendee] talked to [Trump] about solar panels; another about business loans, according to two people who participated and, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private interactions. At least one guest was told by Trump to follow up with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, conveniently seated nearby.
“One attendee’s plea on behalf of an obscure railway project in Alaska in need of federal approval appeared to get immediate results. Just after midnight, mere hours after the campaign fundraiser, Trump tweeted that it was his ‘honor to inform you that I will be issuing a Presidential Permit for the A2A Cross-Border rail.’ ‘Congratulations to the people of Alaska & Canada!’ he added, noting that the state’s congressional delegation was supportive of the move. The presidential permit was officially issued three days later.”
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
TRANSITION — Gary Carpentier will be COO and director of government relations at Sanabria & Associates. He previously was a disaster recovery specialist in the Office of Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Small Business Administration.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Geoff Burr, policy director at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. How he got his start: “The most important and impactful opportunity early in my career was when I was able to join Secretary Elaine Chao’s team at the Department of Labor during the George W. Bush administration. In my experience, you learn more serving six months in government than you do six years in the private sector, when it comes to what we do. That experience, the things I learned and the contacts I made have had a profound impact on my life and career.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Ed Barron … James Carville is 76 (h/ts Jon Haber) … Bill Purcell is 67 … Phil McNamara … Eric Anthony … Sam Voorhees (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Rachel Craddock, White House press assistant … Bryan DeAngelis, managing director at Hamilton Place Strategies … Louis Burgdorf … Nate Hodson … CBS’ Jan Crawford … POLITICO’s Bill Kuchman … Debora Pignatelli … Gordon Johndroe, VP of global media relations and public affairs at Boeing, is 46 … JPMorgan Chase’s Irene Baker … Brian DeBose … Josh McElveen … Matt Resch, president of Resch Strategies … Charles Chamberlain, chair of Democracy for America … Patrick Butler, president and CEO of America’s Public Television Stations, is 71 …
… Elizabeth Crisp … Gary Regenstreif … Kimberly Manecke of Ex-Im (h/t Chrissy Harbin) … Chuck Conconi … Brigid Ueland of the Senate Finance Committee … Kendall Heath (h/t Ed Cash) … Samantha Bisogno, senior comms manager for government affairs at the Ocean Conservancy … Trey Hodgkins … Aaron Saunders … Suzanne Reichardt of McLarty Associates … Davis Pace … Bobbie Kilberg and daughter Cameron Kilberg … Adam Ukman … Joe Christinat, VP of comms at Nasdaq … Richard Goldstein … Jeremy Redmon … Margaret Reid Windham … Alisha Prather … Sam Dulik … Lauren Dunn … Garrison McMurtrey … Matt LoParco … Russell Pandres … Joel Klein is 74