Biden Pitches to Older Americans, and Trump Attacks His Fitness
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Joseph R. Biden Jr. turned his attention on Tuesday to older Americans, making a case in South Florida that seniors were paying the price for the president’s poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The only senior that Donald Trump cares about — the only senior — is senior Donald Trump,” Mr. Biden said in a speech at a community center in Pembroke Pines, a city in the vote-rich Democratic stronghold of Broward County.
Older people are a crucial voting bloc in Florida, a haven for retirees, and they were an important part of President Trump’s winning coalition in 2016 across the nation’s battleground states. But waning support from seniors now poses a serious threat to the president’s re-election bid, and Mr. Biden’s pitch to them on Tuesday was his latest attempt to maximize his standing with those voters.
Mr. Biden, who wore a mask during his speech, offered an unsparing critique of Mr. Trump’s management of the nation’s monthslong public health crisis, assailing the president over his response to the virus as well as his own behavior.
“I prayed for his recovery when he got Covid, and I had hoped at least he’d come out of it somewhat chastened,” Mr. Biden said. “But what has he done? He’s just doubled down on the misinformation he did before, and making it worse.”
He went on to say that Mr. Trump’s “reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis is unconscionable.”
“The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he seems to get,” Mr. Biden said. “Thank God we only have three weeks left to go.”
And he alluded to the Rose Garden ceremony held at the White House last month for Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Some of those in attendance, including Mr. Trump and the first lady, later tested positive for the virus.
“While he throws super-spreader parties at the White House where Republicans hug each other without concern of the consequences, how many of you have been unable to hug your grandkids in the last seven months?” Mr. Biden said.
He told the crowd that two of his grandchildren lived near his Delaware home, adding that he bribed them during socially-distanced visits with Häagen-Dazs bars. “I can’t hug them,” he said. “I can’t embrace them. And I’m luckier than most, because they’re nearby.”
Mr. Trump also invoked older Americans on Tuesday, declaring at an evening rally near Johnstown, Pa., that “Biden’s agenda would be a catastrophe for seniors” and asserting that Mr. Biden “cares more about illegal aliens than he cares about your senior citizens.”
The president later undercut his own outreach to seniors by tweeting a meme that mocked his rival’s age, with Mr. Biden’s head superimposed on a picture of people at a nursing home.
WASHINGTON — With just three weeks until Election Day, and President Trump on the defensive in every major battleground state, the president’s top aides know they must change the trajectory of the race.
So as Mr. Trump returns to the campaign trail this week for the first time since he was hospitalized for his coronavirus infection, his advisers are sending him out with a teleprompter in hopes he’ll drive a more coherent message against his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. And on Tuesday, in a more pointed effort to nudge Mr. Trump toward his script, the president’s campaign also included speech excerpts they said he would deliver upon landing in Johnstown, Pa., about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh.
Mr. Trump did deliver some of the remarks.
Attempting to revive his 2016 coalition in a part of Pennsylvania where he needs to run up his margins, the president scorned Mr. Biden as “a servant of the radical globalists” who “shipped away your jobs, shut down your factories, and, you know it because you really suffered right in this area, threw open your borders, and ravaged our cities.”
Yet even as he dutifully delivered most of his speech, the president made clear he had other issues on his mind besides the populist message that he was dispatched to give in Johnstown. Namely, how embarrassing it would be to lose to an opponent he has repeatedly sought to portray as being senile.
“I’m running against the single worst candidate in the history of presidential politics and you know what that does, that puts more pressure on me,” Mr. Trump said. “Can you imagine if you lose to a guy like this, it’s unbelievable.”
Mr. Biden, said Mr. Trump, is “shot, folks, he’s shot.”
Trailing by double-digits in national surveys and by similarly daunting margins in critical states, like Pennsylvania, the president who predicted the country would “get tired of winning” seemed obsessed with losing.
“He has no idea what he’s saying,” Mr. Trump said, returning to Mr. Biden’s mental health. “How the hell do you lose to a guy like this, is this possible? Oh, I’ll never come to Pennsylvania again.”
Early voting began in Texas on Tuesday with long lines in San Antonio and Houston and its environs — some the result of increased turnout and others linked to voting machine failures.
In Fort Bend County near Houston, home to over 400,000 registered voters, all voting machines at 30 early-voting sites did not work Tuesday morning because of a “programming glitch,” according to Judge K.P. George, the county’s top elected official.
In Houston, voters standing in unusually long lines said that a number of factors had driven them to the polls on the first day of early voting, including health concerns over the coronavirus, lingering questions about how mail-in voting was being handled and intense interest in what members of both parties described as a historic election.
“This is the most important election I think in many, many generations,” said Lissa Tucker, 49, who is pregnant and scheduled to deliver her first child next week. “It’s always best to do it in person. So I really wanted to make sure I vote early so there’s less room for error and to make sure my vote counted.”
Ms. Tucker, a management consultant who is a Republican, voted for Mr. Trump for president.
It took only 21 minutes for Butch Marseglia, 75, and his wife to vote. They had originally planned to vote later in the week but they happened to drive by Tuesday and decided to go in because the line did not seem very long.
Mr. Marseglia, a Democrat, voted for Mr. Biden. His wife, Rebecca Marseglia, 62, a Republican, also voted for Mr. Biden.
“I’ve never voted for a Democrat for president, but I did this time,” said Ms. Marseglia, who worked for a chemical company before she retired. Asked why she did not vote for Mr. Trump, she added: “I just hate the hate. It’s the whole thing. Him not denouncing the white supremacists, it just makes me want to cry. It’s not the Republican Party that I grew up with.”
In San Antonio, long lines had nothing to do with voting machines, officials said. “They haven’t had one complaint on the machines,” said Judge Nelson W. Wolff, the executive of Bexar County, which includes San Antonio. “It’s just a huge turnout.”
Mr. Wolff, a Democrat, noted that this was the first presidential election since the Republican-controlled State Legislature eliminated “straight-ticket” or one-punch voting, an option particularly popular with Democrats in which voters could select a party’s entire slate with one ballot mark, instead of voting for each candidate separately.
In 2018, straight-ticket voting inspired by Mr. O’Rourke’s position at the top of the ticket helped sweep Democrats into power in many local Texas races.
This year, Mr. Wolff said, voters “have to go through and vote for everybody individually, so that’s holding it up some.”
The coronavirus also contributed to voting problems in Texas. A polling site in the Fort Worth suburb of Euless was closed after a poll worker tested positive. “We are in the process of finding a replacement crew for the site, and will open it as soon as possible,” county elections officials said.
Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the Texas Democrats, said turnout was particularly heavy in Democratic counties and that some voters were energized by the Supreme Court confirmation hearing in Washington.
Texas has registered 3 million new voters since 2016 — and 1.3 million since 2018 alone. “The vast majority of these voters are expected to lean Democratic,” Mr. Rahman said.
The Texas early voting lines came a day after record turnout in Georgia, where officials said the number of people casting ballots on the first day of early voting was up 40 percent since 2016. Some Georgia voters stood in line for as long as eight hours.
Senator Kamala Harris focused squarely on health care and women’s reproductive rights during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Tuesday, placing two top Democratic arguments at the center of the proceedings.
With her characteristic prosecutorial style, Ms. Harris grilled President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett about the Affordable Care Act and framed the confirmation battle for the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a life-or-death fight to protect a woman’s right to an abortion.
“Let’s not make any mistake about it — allowing President Trump to determine who fills the seat of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion for women’s rights and a critical vote in so many decisions that sustained the right to choose poses a threat to safe and legal abortion in our country,” Ms. Harris said.
Ms. Harris’s turn at questioning Judge Barrett was one of the most highly anticipated moments of the hearing. But though she may be her party’s vice-presidential nominee, she is also the lowest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and she waited nearly all day to speak.
When her time came, it was largely without the kind of fireworks that have come to be associated with her appearances as a member of the Judiciary Committee. Instead, Ms. Harris, who appeared remotely, used her platform to link the vacancy to the future of the health care law, elevating the argument that Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, has made for weeks.
“The Affordable Care Act and all its protections hinge on this seat and the outcome of this hearing,” Ms. Harris said.
At one point, she asked Judge Barrett if she had been aware before her nomination of Mr. Trump’s statements vowing to nominate judges who would strike down the health care law. “I’d appreciate a yes or no answer, please,” Ms. Harris said.
The directive at once turned Judge Barrett into a cautious witness on the stand. “I want to be very, very careful,” she said. “I’m under oath.”
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, drew considerable backlash from liberal activists and Democratic Party leaders on Tuesday after a video clip of him chuckling during a debate discussion about the coronavirus pandemic was widely shared online.
At a debate on Monday evening, Amy McGrath, his Democratic challenger and a former Marine fighter pilot, hammered Mr. McConnell for failing to pass a new round of pandemic relief to help Americans during what she called a “major international crisis.”
“The House passed a bill in May, and the Senate went on vacation,” Ms. McGrath said. “You just don’t do that.”
At that point Mr. McConnell chuckled, as he sought to dismiss her criticisms.
Mr. McConnell said that “nobody went on vacation” and remarked sarcastically “we actually can do things like use telephones; we communicate with each other a lot.” He repeatedly blamed Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, calling her “totally unreasonable” in her demands for a relief package.
But Ms. McGrath was unsparing: “If you want to call yourself a leader, you get the job done,” she said. “Those of us that served in the Marines, we do not point fingers at the other side. We get the job done.”
A 34-second video clip showing Ms. McGrath’s remarks and Mr. McConnell’s dismissive chortle was quickly cut by her campaign team and posted on her Twitter account.
By Tuesday morning, the video had been reposted by liberal activist groups, a smattering of celebrities and Democratic politicians including Hillary Clinton — all of whom expressed dismay that the majority leader would laugh during a debate about a pandemic that has killed more than 215,000 Americans, infected millions more, and left millions out of work.
Mark Hamill, the actor and “Star Wars” star, described the laugh on Twitter as “what pure evil looks like.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. McConnell’s campaign did not provide an on-record comment about the exchange. The campaign noted that he had spoken extensively about his efforts to negotiate a package.
Beyond the coronavirus, Mr. McConnell sought to highlight his position in leadership, arguing that his power in the Senate had allowed him to bring benefits back to Kentucky.
“It’s not complicated,” he said. “Do you want somebody from New York to be setting the agenda for America and not terribly interested in Kentucky? Or do you want to continue to have one of the four congressional leaders from our state looking out for Kentucky, giving Kentucky an opportunity to punch above its weight, providing extra assistance for Kentucky? That’s the question. She will transfer all of that to New York. I will keep it in Kentucky.”
Ms. McGrath noted that Mr. McConnell “likes to talk about Kentucky punching above its weight.”
“Here in Kentucky,” she told viewers, “we know we feel like we’ve been sucker punched.”
The first Black woman from Connecticut elected to Congress gave a pained account on Tuesday of a Zoombombing that happened one night earlier, when she was repeatedly called racial slurs and interrupted during a virtual town hall event held by her campaign.
Representative Jahana Hayes, a first-term Democrat who represents the northern and western parts of the state, wrote on the website Medium that the episode occurred just after the start of a conference call with constituents in Newtown, Conn.
“Our fourth meeting starts, and about 10 minutes in — I hear ‘shut up N-word,’ ” Ms. Hayes wrote. “I pause — not sure how to react, but I catch a glimpse of all the faces of the people who have joined the meeting. They are mortified, shocked, embarrassed, hurt and I could tell they didn’t know what to do next.”
Ms. Hayes was discussing the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court when she was first interrupted, a video of the Zoom call obtained by The New York Times showed.
Despite the intervention of her aides, who muted the participant and removed the person from the meeting, the racial slurs did not stop.
The tactic, known as Zoombombing, has marred myriad public forums on the popular conferencing platform Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am not OK that this happened,” Ms. Hayes wrote. “Black women are expected to press on, to ignore this behavior; to not talk explicitly about it because it is uncomfortable, divisive or does not reflect the sentiments of most people.”
Ms. Hayes, a former National Teacher of the Year, shared screen shots on Twitter of racial slurs that were targeted at her during the town hall.
“GO PICK YOUR COTTON,” one participant wrote in the Zoom chat. Others posted comments in the chat praising President Trump.
Zoom responded to Ms. Hayes on Wednesday on Twitter and said it would look into the episode.
“We are deeply upset to hear about this and we take the privacy of Zoom Meetings very seriously,” the company tweeted.
David X. Sullivan, a Republican who is challenging Ms. Hayes, condemned the attack in an interview with The Hartford Courant.
“It was such a disgusting incident to interfere and disrupt a legitimate campaign activity with such hateful language that can’t be tolerated in politics or any other segment of our society,” he said.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett refused on Tuesday to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee whether she would recuse herself, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, from considering an upcoming case in which Republican states are trying to get the court to strike down the Affordable Care Act — or from any case arising from a legal dispute over next month’s presidential election.
When Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the committee, asked on the second day of her confirmation hearing whether she would participate in the pending health care case, Judge Barrett — who has criticized a past Supreme Court decision that declined to strike down a key part of the health care law — said that whether a justice should recuse herself was a “legal issue” and “not a question that I could answer in the abstract.”
She cited a statute that says, among other things, that judges should recuse themselves “whenever their impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” However, Judge Barrett also acknowledged that whether that standard has been met is up to each individual justice to decide for herself.
Under questioning from Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont — who noted that President Trump has said he needs his nominee confirmed because he thinks Democrats will try to steal the election from him and it will end up in court — Judge Barrett also did not answer, instead saying she would faithfully work through the process of deciding what to do.
Mr. Leahy observed that Judge Barrett had merely offered a “sort of boilerplate response on recusal.”
Supreme Court justices do not like to recuse themselves, in part because, unlike at the district and appeals court levels, there is no one to replace them if they step aside. If a justice decides to stay on a case despite accusations of a conflict of interest, there is no appeal.
Asked about other issues — notably abortion rights — Judge Barrett spoke about the doctrine of “stare decisis,” which says the Supreme Court should be reluctant to revisit issues it has previously decided.
But she noted that the legal question at issue in the upcoming Affordable Care Act case — whether the entire law must be struck down because one part of it has been deemed flawed, or whether the flawed part is “severable” from the rest — was not addressed in the earlier case, meaning there was no precedent to respect. And she signaled that she did not think she had said or written anything that expressed a view on the current matter.
“Really, the issue in the case is this doctrine of severability and that’s not something that I have ever talked about with respect to the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “Honestly, I haven’t written anything about severability that I know of at all.”
After a cut cable caused Virginia’s online voter registration portal to go down on Tuesday morning, cutting off access online and in local registrars’ offices on the final day to register before the Nov. 3 election, Gov. Ralph Northam said that he would support a court order extending the deadline.
The website crashed after a fiber optic cable was cut just south of Richmond, according to the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, which handles the state’s cybersecurity. The governor said that the cable had been “inadvertently cut during a roadside utilities project.” The cut affected several state government agencies on Tuesday.
“We have been exploring all of our options to extend the voter registration deadline,” Mr. Northam, a Democrat, said at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon. “That deadline is set in our code, and it does not appear that I have the authority to change it. That is up to the courts, and I would support a court-ordered extension of the deadline.”
Virginia’s attorney general, Mark Herring, filed a brief in federal court in Richmond, the state capital, on Tuesday night seeking an extension for registering to vote.
“We need to make up for the time lost today,” Mr. Herring, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “We have 21 days until the most important election of our lifetimes and I want to make sure every eligible Virginian who wants to vote can.”
Virginia’s voter registration website advised people seeking to register to vote in the interim to print out and complete a paper application, which may count as long as it is delivered to a voter registration office or postmarked on Tuesday. On Tuesday afternoon the state’s Department of Elections announced that its voter registration portal was back up.
Andrea Gaines, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Elections, said Verizon technicians were working to repair the cut.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to shut down the census count ahead of schedule, a move that could allow the Census Bureau to submit tabulations excluding unauthorized immigrants by the end of the year.
The court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons, which is typical when the court acts on emergency applications. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, saying that “the harms associated with an inaccurate census are avoidable and intolerable.”
The administration has proposed various deadlines for completing field work and submitting the results. In April, after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the Census Bureau’s work, it said it would finish counting on Oct. 31 and submit the results in April 2021, after the statutory deadline of Dec. 31.
The administration changed course in August, ordering the field work wrapped up by Sept. 30, and delivery of totals by Dec. 31. The move came not long after the announcement in July that the administration would seek to exclude undocumented immigrants from the population totals it will send to Congress for reapportioning seats in the House.
The two developments appear to be related. Under the old deadlines, the winner of the presidential election would transmit the population totals. Excluding undocumented immigrants from apportionment calculations would generally benefit Republicans.
The National Urban League, the League of Women Voters, other groups and local governments sued, saying the rushed schedule would undermine the accuracy of the census and “facilitate another illegal act: suppressing the political power of communities of color by excluding undocumented people from the final apportionment count.”
Judge Lucy H. Koh, of the United States District Court in Northern California, ordered the bureau to keep working through the Oct. 31 deadline. “Because the decennial census is at issue here, an inaccurate count would not be remedied for another decade,” she wrote. She also suspended the Dec. 31 statutory deadline for submitting the results.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, turned down a request from the Trump administration to stay Judge Koh’s order and allow it to stop counting before the end of the month. But the panel said it would not bar the administration from trying to comply with the Dec. 31 reporting deadline.
The administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene, saying that only by shutting down field work now could the bureau meet the Dec. 31 deadline, which is set by statute. “The district court’s order constitutes an unprecedented intrusion into the executive’s ability to conduct the census according to Congress’s direction,” Jeffrey B. Wall, the acting solicitor general, told the justices in a brief filed Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper declined to rule out sending active-duty military personnel to the polls on Election Day, amid an intensifying debate about the military’s role if a disputed election led to civil unrest.
Mr. Esper, asked by members of Congress to commit to refusing to send troops to the polls and to commit to facilitating a peaceful transition of power, responded to both queries with the same brief answer: “The U.S. military has acted, and will continue to act, in accordance with the Constitution and the law.”
Mr. Esper’s comments, contained in written answers released Tuesday by two Democratic congresswomen, Representatives Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, come as President Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. Senior leaders at the Pentagon are privately discussing what to do if Mr. Trump invokes the Insurrection Act and tries to send troops into the streets, as he has threatened to do during protests against police brutality.
Mr. Esper’s answers also diverge from the words of Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was explicit in stating his desire to keep the armed forces out of the election.
“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military,” General Milley wrote to Congress in August. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process.”
General Milley reiterated that stance on Monday, emphasizing in an interview with NPR that “we have established a very long 240-year tradition of an apolitical military that does not get involved in domestic politics.”
For the second time in less than a week, an appeals court panel has struck down giving voters additional time to return mail-in ballots in a Midwestern state after Election Day: this case centered on Indiana’s 10-day extension.
In a ruling on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit panel in Chicago restored Indiana’s deadline for accepting absentee ballots to noon on Nov. 3, six hours before in-person polls close in the state.
The panel sided with Indiana’s secretary of state, Connie Lawson, a Republican and the state’s top elections official, in the dispute over mail-in voting, which is similar to one that a panel of judges from the same court ruled on last week involving Wisconsin.
The three-judge panel’s unanimous decision on Tuesday came two weeks after a district court judge in Indiana granted the nonpartisan public-interest group Common Cause and the Indiana State Conference of the N.A.A.C.P. an injunction extending the deadline by 10 days.
Tens of millions of voters across the nation are expected to rely on mail-in voting this year to avoid casting ballots in person because of the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans have generally opposed extending the deadlines for mail-in ballots to be returned.
“Deadlines are essential to elections, as to other endeavors such as ﬁling notices of appeal or tax returns,” the judges wrote. “That some ballots are bound to arrive after any deadline does not justify judicial extensions of statutory time limits.”
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was appointed to the Seventh Circuit Court by President Trump and was recently nominated by him to serve on the Supreme Court, was not on the panel of judges who heard the Indiana or Wisconsin cases. It was not immediately clear if the extension’s proponents would try to get the full court to take up the case.
In a video posted to Facebook on Sept. 14, Dan Bongino, a popular right-wing commentator and radio host, made baseless claims that Democrats were planning a coup against President Trump on Election Day.
For just over 11 minutes, Mr. Bongino insisted that bipartisan election experts who had met in June to plan for what might happen after people vote were actually holding exercises for such a coup. He twisted the group’s words to make them seem to fit his meaning.
His video, which has been viewed 2.9 million times, provoked strong reactions and the coup falsehood was just one piece of misinformation that has gone viral in right-wing circles ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. In another unsubstantiated rumor that is circulating on Facebook and Twitter, a secret network of elites was planning to destroy the ballots of those who voted for President Trump. And in yet another fabrication, supporters of Mr. Trump said that an elite cabal planned to block them from entering polling locations on Election Day.
All of the rumors appeared to be having the same effect: Of riling up Mr. Trump’s restive base, just as the president has publicly stoked the idea of election chaos. In comment after comment about the falsehoods, respondents said the only way to stop violence from the left was to respond in kind with force.
“Liberals and their propaganda,” one commenter wrote. “Bring that nonsense to country folks who literally sit in wait for days to pull a trigger.”
The misinformation, which has been amplified by right-wing media like the Fox News host Mark Levin and outlets like Breitbart and The Daily Wire, adds contentiousness to an already powder-keg campaign season. Mr. Trump has repeatedly declined to say whether he would accept a peaceful transfer of power if he lost to his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and has urged his supporters “to go into the polls and watch very carefully.”
The falsehoods on social media are building support for the idea of disrupting the election. Election officials have said they fear voter harassment and intimidation on Election Day.
Distorted information about the election is also flowing in left-wing circles online, though to a lesser degree, according to a New York Times analysis. Such misinformation includes a viral falsehood that mailboxes were being blocked by unknown actors to effectively discourage people from voting.
In its ongoing efforts to depict former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as unfit for office, the Trump campaign enlisted Dr. Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician who served three administrations, to lend some medical gravitas on Tuesday afternoon.
“He’s had trouble articulating words,” Dr. Jackson told reporters on a conference call. In case there was any confusion, he was not discussing President Trump, the candidate who has referred to Thailand as “Thighland” and pronounced “Yosemite’s” (as in the national park) “Yo, Semites.”
Dr. Jackson focused exclusively on Mr. Biden’s mental acuity. “When he gets in those binds, he has another behavior,” he said. “He seems to get very frustrated, he strikes out, he gets angry.”
He left unsaid that it was Mr. Trump who became irate when he was caught on camera referring to Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, as “Tim Apple.”
Dr. Jackson said that watching the race unfold, he had become convinced that Mr. Trump’s opponent did not have the “mental capacity” to serve as president of the United States.
Pointing out Mr. Biden’s verbal slips is a Republican line of attack for which the former vice president supplies frequent fodder. Dr. Jackson noted that on Monday alone, Mr. Biden appeared to have trouble coming up with Mitt Romney’s name, referring to him as “the senator, who was a Mormon — the governor” and told voters he was running “as a proud Democrat for the Senate,” rather than the presidency.
Dr. Jackson is himself running for Congress as a Republican in Texas, and his campaign is being advised by Bill Stepien, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, and Justin Clark, his deputy campaign manager. He has frequently boasted on the campaign trail in his deep red district about his close friendship with Mr. Trump.
When pressed, however, Dr. Jackson noted that he was not, in fact speaking as a physician.
“I actually don’t even practice medicine at this point,” Dr. Jackson said, adding that when he was President Obama’s doctor, he had nothing to do with the medical care of Vice President Biden.
He said he was not trying to diagnose Mr. Biden, but only speaking out as a concerned citizen.
“I’ve not accused him of having Alzheimer’s, I have not made that statement,” he said. In fact, nobody had, but him.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci insisted Tuesday that there was no “rift” between him and President Trump, even as he stepped up his criticism of the Trump campaign for quoting him “out of context” in a television ad praising the administration’s coronavirus response.
“I have been a public servant, for five decades now and I have never either directly or indirectly endorsed any political candidate,” Dr. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, said in an interview, reiterating comments he made on CNN over the weekend. “That ad clearly implies strongly that I’m endorsing a political candidate, and I have not given them my permission to do that. And in addition to that, the quote that they took is completely out of context.”
The Trump campaign released the new ad last week after the president was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following treatment for Covid-19.
“President Trump tackled the virus head on, as leaders should,” the ad declares, before switching to an interview in which Dr. Fauci said, “I can’t imagine that … anybody could be doing more.”
Dr. Fauci said that comment was made “months and months ago” (in March, early on in the pandemic) in reference to the hard work of the White House coronavirus task force, when the group was “meeting literally seven days a week” and “knocking ourselves out.”
He said he blamed the campaign, not “the president as a person,” but conceded he has little power to get the ad off the air. He said he has not contacted either the president or the campaign — “and I don’t want to contact them.” But he also warned that the ad could backfire.
“I think if they keep doing that, and I make it clear that this is something that I’m not happy with, because I didn’t give permission, and that I would like them to stop, and they continue to do it,” he said, “they may turn off a lot of people.”
The Biden campaign released an ad on Monday mocking the Trump campaign for the way it repurposed Dr. Fauci’s quote. The ad featured an obviously pasted-together montage of the president’s speeches, a few words at a time, in which he is made to say, “I am failing at managing the coronavirus outbreak.”
Donald Trump is running TV ads taking Dr. Fauci out of context and without his permission.
So, here’s a message from the President in his own words. pic.twitter.com/WCYbIfrQLR
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 12, 2020
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Dr. Fauci said the campaign was “in effect, harassing me” — a comment he told The New York Times he made “because I had heard that they were going to continue to do it with other ads, given that I have explicitly said I do not like that, and I don’t give them permission.”
On Monday, Dr. Fauci had warned that President Trump’s plan to resume a full schedule of rallies when the virus is surging in much of the country was “asking for trouble.”
He told CNN, “We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves. It happens. And now is even more so a worse time to do that, because when you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome.”
He noted that many states were now seeing increases in positive tests and suggested that Americans should be “doubling down” on precautions rather than casting them aside.
Most of the audience at Mr. Trumps packed rally near Orlando, Fla., Monday night was unmasked.
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and his party’s 2012 nominee for president, took to Twitter Tuesday with a scathing condemnation of President Trump and Democrats for their roles in what he called the descent of American politics into a “hate-filled morass,” pleading for leaders to “lower the heat” on a discourse that he said had grown dangerously divisive.
In a statement, Mr. Romney said he had bitten his tongue in recent weeks because the November presidential election was nearing, but felt the need to weigh in after watching vitriol rise on all sides, and its amplification by the news media. He said the world was “watching in abject horror” at what was unfolding in the United States, and warned that the vitriol would lead to more violence and criminality.
“I’m troubled by our politics, as it has moved away from spirited debate to a vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass that is unbecoming of any free nation — let alone the birthplace of modern democracy,” said Mr. Romney. He has been one of the few Republicans in the Senate willing to challenge Mr. Trump, including when he was the only member of the party to vote to remove him from office at the impeachment trial.
While Mr. Romney rebuked both sides, he was particularly pointed in his criticisms of Mr. Trump. “The president calls the Democratic vice-presidential candidate ‘a monster,’ ” Mr. Romney said. “He calls for the Justice Department to put the prior president in jail; he attacks the governor of Michigan on the very day a plot is discovered to kidnap her.”
The Democrats he singled out for blame included Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for ripping up Mr. Trump’s State of the Union speech earlier this year, and Keith Olbermann, a former MSNBC anchor he faulted for describing the president as a “terrorist.” He appeared to at least partially exclude former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“Democrats launch blistering attacks of their own — though their presidential nominee refuses to stoop as low as others,” Mr. Romney said.
“It is time to lower the heat,” Mr. Romney concluded. He warned: “The consequences of the crescendo of anger leads to a very bad place.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California defended her unwillingness to accept anything less than a broad coronavirus stimulus package in negotiations with the administration, on the same day that President Trump called on Twitter for negotiators to “go big or go home!!!”
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are heading toward a vote to advance a scaled-down package that Democrats are unlikely to support.
In a heated CNN interview, Ms. Pelosi chastised Wolf Blitzer, the CNN anchor, and his colleagues as “apologists for the Republican position” after Mr. Blitzer noted that some Democrats, including Andrew Yang and Representative Ro Khanna of California, have urged her in recent days to cut a deal with the administration. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, last put forward a $1.8 trillion framework in negotiations.
“Honest to God, I can’t get over it,” Ms. Pelosi said, who muscled a $2.2 trillion proposal through the House earlier this month. “Andrew Yang, he’s lovely. Ro Khanna, he’s lovely. They are not negotiating this situation. They have no idea of the particulars. They have no idea of what the language is here.”
The interview on Tuesday further underscored Ms. Pelosi’s unwillingness to accept a scaled-down bill, even as Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, announced the Senate would vote to advance such a package when the full chamber returns later this month. Senate Democrats have also accused their Republican counterparts of prioritizing a Supreme Court confirmation over negotiating a stimulus bill.
The scaled-down package, Mr. McConnell said at an event in his home state of Kentucky, is likely around $500 billion and containing funds for hospitals, schools, enhanced unemployment benefits and the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular federal loan program for small businesses that has expired without congressional action.
It is unlikely that such a package would secure the necessary Democratic support needed to clear the chamber, a reality further highlighted by the combative CNN interview with Ms. Pelosi. When Mr. Blitzer pressed her again to not let perfect be the enemy of the good, given the mounting toll of the pandemic, she said the administration’s offer was “not even close to the good.”
In a private caucus call before the interview, she and her top lieutenants on Tuesday continued to rail against the administration’s latest offer was inadequate.
“We really need to have an agreement, but we cannot have an agreement by just folding,” she said. “I don’t think our leverage has ever been greater than it is now.”
Ms. Pelosi pushed back on the suggestion that she should accept anything less than the latest $2.2 trillion Democratic proposal, after coming down from the original $3.4 trillion proposal the House approved in May.
“I appreciate, shall we say, a couple people saying, ‘Take it, take it, take it,’” Ms. Pelosi said. “Take it? Take it? Even the president is saying, ‘Go big or go home.’”
But the $1.8 trillion offer also faced additional resistance among the majority of Senate Republicans, who lashed out at top administration officials on Saturday for putting forward a counteroffer that they felt to be too expensive and veering toward catering too much to Democratic priorities.
Almost 4,000 tech and corporate workers at Amazon have signed an internal proposal asking the company to give all its workers, including those in its warehouses, a paid day off to vote, according to organizers and screenshots of the effort viewed by The New York Times.
“Voting during the pandemic means hourslong lines and confusion over where and how to vote,” the internal proposal said. “Amazon has an opportunity to raise the bar and help ensure that every Amazon worker’s vote will be counted.”
Amazon has more than 600,000 workers in the United States. A company spokeswoman, Jaci Anderson, said that in states with in-person voting, workers can request time off at the start or end of their shifts to vote, but how many hours, and whether it is paid, varies based on what state law.
Many states require employees to be excused and paid for a few hours if voting conflicts with work schedules, but several battleground states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, do not require employers to provide paid time off for elections.
A growing number of retailers, including Walmart, offer paid time off nationwide, and some, like Best Buy and Patagonia, are closing for a few hours on Election Day, Nov. 3, so employees have time to vote.
On its internal website, Amazon recently encouraged warehouse workers to register and make a plan to vote.
NBC was battered with criticism on Wednesday after it announced plans for a Thursday town hall event with President Trump to air opposite an already-scheduled ABC forum with his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Top Democrats, media pundits and many journalists inside NBC and MSNBC were taken aback by the network’s choice of the 8 p.m. Eastern time slot, which will make it impossible for Americans to watch both candidates live.
“The point of a news organization is to serve the public,” Vivian Schiller, a former executive at NBC, Twitter and National Public Radio, wrote on Twitter. “This is the opposite.”
Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden were originally scheduled to face off on Thursday in Miami at a formal debate — until last week, when Mr. Trump abruptly withdrew after the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to stage the event virtually over concerns that Mr. Trump could still be contagious with the coronavirus.
Mr. Biden quickly arranged his own telecast with ABC, prompting Mr. Trump’s campaign to seek its own event that evening. After a lengthy negotiation — NBC wanted proof that the president would not pose a health risk, which it received only on Tuesday — the network announced its plans Wednesday morning.
Several people familiar with internal discussions described the network’s thinking, requesting anonymity to share private conversations.
Mr. Trump’s town hall event will be patterned after a similar Biden forum that NBC hosted on Oct. 5, the people said. It will be held at the same outdoor Miami location, with the same format that features questions from Florida voters — and the same 8 p.m. time slot.
But given the conflict with Mr. Biden’s event on ABC, why not simply start Mr. Trump’s after the former vice president finishes?
NBC officials argued internally that such a move could be problematic because many more American households watch television later in the evening. In theory, they argued, starting the event at 9 or 10 p.m. Eastern would grant Mr. Trump access to a larger potential live audience than Mr. Biden had for his NBC event on Oct. 5.
So why not hold the event on a different night? NBC executives have insisted that the date was their choice, the people said, and that Thursday fit the president’s schedule: Because of the now-canceled second debate, Mr. Trump’s evening was free.
It was unclear if the Trump campaign would have accommodated a request by NBC to move the event to a different day. The president is trailing in many national polls and is eager for opportunities to make his case to a sizable audience. NBC’s publicists declined to comment.
Numerous staff members at NBC and MSNBC expressed private dismay on Wednesday at their leaders’ decision. One former NBC News executive, Mark Lukasiewicz, who produced political conventions and candidate forums for the network, wrote on Twitter, “This is a bad result for American voters, who should not be forced to choose which to watch.”
In 2020, many Americans prefer to watch television programs at their own pace, using DVRs and online streams. Viewers who want to see what both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump have to say on Thursday will have plenty of options to do so.
But presidential events have a unique draw, particularly at the height of the campaign: Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump’s first debate in Cleveland last month drew 73 million viewers. Neither town hall on Thursday is likely to come close to those numbers, given that formal debates air simultaneously across a dozen or more networks.
Still, by scheduling Mr. Trump against Mr. Biden, NBC may end up providing the president with one of his preferred talking points: The president is almost certain to score a higher Nielsen rating than Mr. Biden, since the event will also air on NBC’s sibling cable channels, MSNBC and CNBC.
Whether exposure to a mass audience is politically useful for Mr. Trump is also an open question: He received poor marks for his performance at the debate last month.
NBC officials had held back on confirming the Trump event until they had credible evidence that the president would not pose a safety risk to other participants — including network crew members, the Florida voters on hand to ask questions, and the moderator, Savannah Guthrie of the “Today” show. Network management said it was not comfortable relying solely on the word of the White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley.
On Wednesday, NBC proffered a statement from Dr. Clifford Lane, a clinical director at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Lane said he and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, had reviewed medical data about Mr. Trump’s condition, including a P.C.R. test that the N.I.H. analyzed on Tuesday. (A P.C.R. test is a widely used virus diagnostic that is considered more reliable than a rapid antigen test.)
Dr. Lane concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that the president was “not shedding infectious virus,” NBC said.
The network did not explicitly say that Mr. Trump had received a negative result from the P.C.R. test.
In an interview on Wednesday, Dr. Fauci said that he and Dr. Lane had reviewed the P.C.R. result, as well as data from viral cultures and multiple negative tests on a rapid antigen test produced by Abbott and called BinaxNOW.
Dr. Fauci said he and Dr. Lane had corresponded with Dr. Conley, who provided all of the information that they assessed. “We were just given the data and we made a determination from the data,” Dr. Fauci said.
Combined with the fact that Mr. Trump was more than 10 days out from the onset of symptoms, Dr. Fauci said, “we can say with a high degree of confidence that he is not transmissible.”
Mr. Trump’s P.C.R. test had a cycle threshold — a proxy for viral load — of 34.3, Dr. Fauci said. According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with a threshold over 33 carry little to no live virus.
The NBC town hall event will be held outdoors at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, and audience members will be required to wear masks. The network said that Ms. Guthrie and Mr. Trump would be seated at least 12 feet apart.
Apoorva Mandavilli and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.