| USA TODAY
How common a presidential contested election is and how it works
With the election coming up in November, many wonder if we could have a contested election and how likely is that to happen?
President Donald Trump put an end to months of negotiations over a COVID-19 stimulus package Tuesday, rejecting the Democrats’ latest offer.
The president’s rejection and insistence on restarting negotiations means both parties head into a crucial election without more relief for Americans struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to unprecedented levels of unemployment and caused businesses to suffer as states impose social distancing measures.
- Wednesday is the first and only vice presidential debate of 2020. Here’s why the match-up between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris is a must-watch.
- One quarter of media coverage of Harris’ announcement as the Democratic vice presidential candidate included racist or sexist tropes, a report found.
- Nearly 20 people in and around the White House have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days.
What the polls are saying: A CNN poll released Tuesday showed 57% of likely voters favor Biden, compared to 41% who favor Trump, the latest poll to show Biden widening his lead over the president. In red-state Florida, the race is a dead heat, according to a new Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll.
28 days until Election Day, one day until the vice presidential debate, 106 days until Inauguration Day, 87 days left in 2020.
We will update this article throughout the day. You can follow all of USA TODAY’s politics reporters on Twitter or subscribe to our daily On Politics newsletter.
First lady’s office outlines health protocols for White House staff
First Lady Melania Trump’s office issued a statement on Tuesday detailing the safety protocols it was taking to protect residence staff from the spread of coronavirus amid an outbreak of COVID-19 in the White House.
Staff members are required to wear personal protective equipment and those in direct contact with the first family are tested daily, according to an East Wing news release. Support staff are tested every other day.
The White House has hired independent health consultants to support the medical unit as well as a “well-being” consultant to address mental health concerns among staff members.
The safety protocols were publicized a day after President Donald Trump was discharged from Walter Reed Medical Center despite his ongoing battle with the coronavirus, raising questions about how the White House planned to protect staff members from being further exposed.
Upon his return home Monday, Trump, still infectious, was seen ripping his mask from his face as he stood outside on the South Portico balcony. It was unclear if he put the mask back on before entering the building but staff members, who were masked, were spotted nearby.
The president was admitted to the hospital on Friday after he and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus. Since their diagnosis, several White House aides have tested positive including his press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two members of her staff.
The first lady’s office said it has “significantly reduced staff,” and encouraged teleworking. The White House residence also installed “additional sanitization and filtration systems throughout the Executive Mansion.”
— Courtney Subramanian
The military’s top two officers, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Air Force Gen. John Hyten, along with service chiefs from the Army, Navy and Air Force are in quarantine after meeting with the officer last week, according to a senior Defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly. Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant, was not at the meeting. The officer who tested positive for the disease is Adm. Charles Ray, the No. 2 officer at the Coast Guard.
None of the officers in quarantine have tested positive or shown symptoms of the disease, according to the official.
“The chain of command is so strong,” said Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “You never want to lose a chief. But if we did we are prepared. There’s always somebody right behind them to step in.”
– Tom Vanden Brook
Federal authorities reaffirmed their confidence in the U.S. election system Tuesday, despite the persistent foreign threat and President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the process is “rigged” and vulnerable to mass voter fraud.
– Kevin Johnson
Vice President Mike Pence, who is in Salt Lake City ahead of the vice presidential debate Wednesday, continues to test negative for COVID-19, White House physician Jesse T. Schonau said in a statement Tuesday.
“Vice President Mike Pence has remained healthy, without any COVID-19 symptoms, and has continued to have daily COVID-19 antigen tests and intermittent PCR tests which have all resulted as negative,” Schonau said.
Nearly 20 people – including administration officials, White House reporters and Republican senators – have tested positive for COVID-19 since Trump announced he tested positive Friday.
Schonau said Pence traveled Tuesday through Thursday of last week and was at home on Friday, the day Trump announced he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive. He stayed home Friday, Saturday and Sunday “out of an abundance of caution,” Schonau said.
Pence does not need to quarantine, Schonau added, saying he “is encouraged to go about his normal activities.”
– Sean Rossman
Exposed administration officials and Republican leaders have continued traveling, politicking and appearing in public — often without that most basic health measure, the mask — in violation of their own government’s recommendations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend that people quarantine if they have been in close contact with somebody shown to have been positive for the virus in the previous fourteen days.
For example, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) attended a Wisconsin fundraiser on Friday after he had taken a test for the virus, but before the results came back. Johnson, who has been a vocal opponent of a mask mandate, learned the next day that he has tested positive. And U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who has worked closely with multiple infected colleagues in the Senate, was photographed by a fellow passenger on a Delta flight with his mask dangling uselessly below his chin.
Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said that the disregard of basic guidelines by members at the highest level of government constituted “willful denial” that they too were beholden to the threat of infection.
“There’s a sense of entitlement,” Schaffner said. “That rules don’t apply to them.”
-Gus Garcia Roberts
“This morning the President’s team of physicians met with him in the Residence,” Conley said in a statement. “He had a restful first night at home, and today he reports no symptoms. Vital signs and physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95%-97%. Overall he continues to do extremely well, I will provide updates as we know more.”
Trump telling the American people not to be afraid of COVID-19, when it has resulted in more than 210,000 deaths nationwide, is absurd and shows a failure of leadership, Sen. Bernie Sanders said Monday at a rally for Joe Biden in Michigan.
“Where millions of people have lost their jobs, where people are facing hunger and eviction, to say don’t be afraid of the COVID-19 (disease) is an absurd statement. Of course, we should be afraid of it. It has wreaked havoc on our economy and on all of our lives,” Sanders said. “I would suggest to you that one of the key issues in this campaign is which candidate will be better able to turn this virus around, to get a handle on it and to regrow the economy once we do that. And I think the answer is, obviously, Joe Biden.”
– Dave Boucher and Sean Rossman
Trump, at the White House being treated for COVID-19, vowed again Tuesday to return to the campaign trail, this time focusing on a specific event: The second presidential debate with Biden on Oct. 15.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh and others put out the word Monday that the president intends to debate Biden next week.
No word yet from the debate commission or the Biden campaign as to whether they will seek changes in the debate format due to Trump’s COVID-19 condition.
– David Jackson
Biden served eight years as vice president to President Barack Obama, who has helped the campaign with conversational videos and fundraising appearances. But Michelle Obama is also a huge draw, as seen with her recorded statement during the Democratic convention in August.
Michelle Obama said recent days might have seemed like a whirlwind with Trump’s hospitalization for COVID-19. She echoed Biden’s comments about Trump’s infection serving as a reminder that the virus is a serious threat from the White House to homes across the country.
“The truth is, the events of the past few days are a bracing reminder of the tragedy that has been this administration’s response to this crisis,” Michelle Obama said. “Because the fact is that the drama of the past few days has only emphasized what’s at stake in this election – from the coronavirus to a constant drumbeat of fear, division, and chaos that’s threatening to spiral out of control.”
– Bart Jansen
“Flu season is coming up!” Trump tweeted. “Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”
Trump’s death toll was inaccurate. A bad flu season might be roughly 50,000 deaths — in the 2017-18 winter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 80,000 American flu deaths – the highest number over four decades.
The CDC estimated that 34,200 Americans died of influenza in the winter of 2018-2019. COVID-19, so far, has killed more than 210,000 Americans this year.
“COVID-19 is NOT THE FLU,” tweeted Jonathan Reiner, professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University. “You would think that someone who has just become the first human to receive a triple experimental therapy would have more insight.”
– David Jackson
The announcement of Sen. Kamala Harris as the Democratic vice presidential nominee – the first Black woman and Asian person on a major party’s presidential ticket – was met with more racist and sexist stereotyping in media coverage compared to both major parties’ 2016 vice presidential nominees, according to a new report.
One-quarter of coverage of Harris included racist or sexist tropes, such as describing the senator as too “uncooperative” or “ambitious,” according to the report from Time’s Up Now, the political arm of TIME’S UP, which advocates to end harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
“It demonstrates with numbers how normal we think it is for white men to run for these offices, and how unusual or subject to criticism we think it is for a woman of color to run for those offices,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Now. “You are therefore not talking about her actual qualifications for the job, or her position for the job, and that’s what handicaps women candidates, it’s what handicaps women leaders in multiple dimensions, not just in the political sphere.”
– Rebecca Morin
The presidential race is tied in Florida with less than 30 days to go, according to a new Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network poll that shows President Donald Trump’s campaign still highly competitive in a must-win state despite a calamitous stretch.
Trump and Democratic opponent Joe Biden each are supported by 45% of voters in the poll, while 6% of voters still are undecided and the rest are supporting third-party candidates or refused to say who they’re backing.
“You can’t get any closer than a 45/45 split; it really reflects the core support of the respective bases,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
– Zac Anderson (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)