Pence and Harris camps still negotiating venue measures ahead of debate

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Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris will take the debate stage Wednesday night in Salt Lake City where the stakes are unusually high for a vice-presidential debate, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar reports.

Both the Biden and Harris campaign remain in negotiations ahead of the showdown. Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion Tuesday, “Both campaigns agreed to a 12-foot separation seated at the table, which is double the recommended distance.”

A release by the commission Monday stated, “Plexiglass will be used as part of the [Commission on Presidential Debate’s] overall approach to health and safety.” The request was made by the Biden-Harris campaign and approved by the CPD, CBS Campaign reporter Tim Perry confirmed.

However a senior official close to the vice president confirms Mr. Pence does not want plexiglass on his side of the stage, adding that CDC guidance recommends plexiglass only when a six-foot distance between individuals isn’t possible.

The CPD says that there will be a “small number” of ticketed guests at the debate, which will take place at the University of Utah. Those in the debate hall will be required to take COVID tests and use masks. Anyone not wearing a mask “will be escorted out,” the CPD said. At the first presidential debate last week, President Trump’s family declined to wear masks in the debate hall.

After a cantankerous first debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, political strategists feel the vice presidential candidates will bring more substance to the table.

“We have vice presidential nominees that are younger and presumably healthier than the presidential nominees so there’s a greater than normal chance that one of these two will be President of the United States,” longtime Republican strategist Michael Steel told Bidar. David Kotchel, who ran Mitt Romney’s Iowa operations in 2008 and 2012, said “there’s more awareness among voters that this debate is more important than it has been in past years.”

On Thursday of last week, before President Trump’s diagnosis and eventual hospitalizations, Bidar spoke with Republican officials and strategists to examine Pence’s role with the campaign now and how he can set himself up for 2024. You can read that article here.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

TRUMP-PENCE CAMPAIGN

One day after leaving Walter Reed Medical Center to return to the White House, President Trump continued to downplay the risks of the coronavirus, while his doctor said the president is reporting “no symptoms” of COVID-19.

Hours after the medical team treating him for COVID-19 cautioned that he’s “not out of the woods yet,” on Monday, Mr. Trump returned to White House shortly before 7 p.m., where he took off his mask and gave a thumbs up before walking inside. He soon tweeted a minute-long video from the balcony, saying he’d “learned so much about coronavirus” and that he might be immune to it. “One thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you,” he said of COVID-19. “Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it.”

In a post shared on Twitter and Facebook Tuesday morning, the president once again compared COVID-19 to the flu, which has proven much less lethal and contagious than the coronavirus. Overstating the yearly death toll from the flu, Mr. Trump said Americans “have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid.” More than 210,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Twitter flagged the tweet, saying it violated the platform’s rules about “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.” Facebook removed it entirely. 

President Trump expressed interest in going to the Oval Office Tuesday because he “feels good,” but protective measures are not in place for that to happen yet. CBS News White House correspondent Ben Tracy reports the White House is still creating a working space for him in the Map Room, which he will also likely use for taped video addresses and any television appearances.

White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said Tuesday that Americans “will likely hear from President Trump” later today.

Mr. Trump also tweeted Tuesday that he has instructed his representatives to stop negotiating with House Democrats on a long-anticipated coronavirus stimulus package until after the election. The president accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of “not negotiating in good faith,” but such a public declaration that the White House has ended negotiations on desperately needed aid to small businesses could hurt the president’s re-election prospects, 28 days out.

As for the president’s future debate appearance, the Trump campaign tells CBS News reporter Nicole Sganga the president intends to debate in-person, in Miami on October 15. “We will of course be relying on his medical team from Walter Reed and the White House medical unit,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told CBS News, Tuesday.

BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN

In his 21-minute speech at Gettysburg, Joe Biden did not mention President Trump’s name even one time, according to CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson.

But Biden was clearly talking about the president’s leadership on the several crises the country is facing today: the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, the economic slump and climate change. Biden wove together quotes from Lincoln and said today’s “battle for the soul of America” — Biden’s long-held campaign slogan — was like the division after the Civil War. “Today once again we are a house divided. But that my friends can no longer be. We are facing too many crises,” Biden said. “As I look across America today, I am concerned. The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Too many Americans see our public life not as an arena for mediation of our differences but rather they see it as an occasion for total unrelenting partisan warfare.”

In the historic setting, Biden shifted focus to current day fights over safety. “I do not believe that we have to choose between law and order, and racial justice in America. We can have both.” On the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden said, “This pandemic is not a red state or blue state issue. This virus doesn’t care whether you live – where you live or what political party you belong to. It affects us all, it will take anyone’s life. It’s a virus, it’s not a political weapon.”

Overall, this is the well-tuned version of Biden’s stump speech from the primaries. This unity message has been overshadowed in recent weeks as the Democratic nominee focused on addressing current issues, but today — with the famous battle backdrop – he was able to put this all together.

BATTLEGROUNDS IN THE BATTLEGROUNDS

FLORIDA – *DUVAL COUNTY*

In a state that has been considered a battleground in recent presidential election years, one area that has consistently been considered a Republican stronghold is Duval County in Florida, reports CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell.

Home to Jacksonville — the state’s largest city by population — Duval County is considered by some Florida political scientists to be “quite polarized” in terms of race and political party. With a county supervisor of elections that is considered by some to be “not as proactive” as some of the elections supervisors in other large counties in the state, both Democrats and Republicans agree that this county with a population of nearly one million residents is not one to be ignored.

Former Democratic Florida Representative Mia Jones, who represented a district within Duval County at the state level for eight years, said for many years Duval County has had very close races, making the area a target for candidates running for office who are now putting a great deal of effort in appealing to voters in the county and its surrounding areas.

“A lot of people who are registered Democrat and for a number of years because of the landscape of the state, they have voted Republican,” said Jones. “But they have realized that they really lean more toward the Democratic values, and as a result, they are coming back to where they’re comfortable.”

Republican Florida Representative Cord Byrd has represented parts of Duval County as a state representative for the past four years, and is up for re-election this cycle. Byrd said that his party has been a “victim of its own success” in Duval County and that Duval Republicans in some ways started to take the Republican-leaning nature of the county for granted, a move that Byrd said Democrats maximized.

“After the 2016 election, [Democrats] didn’t shut down their operations and continued,” said Byrd. “I think the Republican Party obviously is aware of that now and are making changes and are making great strides and realize that we can’t take Duval County for granted anymore.”

Byrd added that Republicans still hold the mayor’s office in Duval’s county seat of Jacksonville and that while Republicans have maintained control in the county, Democrats are fighting for power, which makes the area a competitive region in the state. “When you look at the state…Duval County certainly is one of the largest Republican-controlled areas,” said Byrd. “Candidates recognize that, they recognize that there are a lot of votes here, that the people are motivated in turnout.”

According to data compiled by the Duval County Supervisor of Elections office, turnout in the county has been at least 68% in the past five presidential elections dating back to 2000.

Though the Republican presidential candidates won each of these contests, political scientists point to narrowing margins of victory and changing demographics in the county as signs of a changing tide. In 2016, Trump won Duval County by less than 6,000 votes — or just more than 1% — a decrease from the 1.9% that Republican John McCain beat Democrat Barack Obama by in 2008, and the 3.6% that Republican Mitt Romney beat Mr. Obama by in 2012.

Democrats also point to the 2018 midterm election where both Democratic Senatorial candidate Bill Nelson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum won this county with just over 50% of the vote, respectively, as a sign that the county is trending Democratic.

As white middle and upper class families reportedly move to surrounding counties like St. Johns County — the population of white residents in the county continues to shrink. Today 52% of the Duval County’s population is white according to Census data. As minority communities and younger populations burgeon, Duval’s political landscape is said to be reflecting such shift. “I don’t think you can have a candidate assume that because someone is a Democrat or assume that because they’re a Republican, that you would or would not have an opportunity to win them over because people are voting across party lines a great deal within our community,” contended Jones. “So goes Florida, so goes the nation,” said Byrd. “And so goes Duval County, so goes Florida.”

LIFE AFTER 2020

PETE BUTTIGIEG

Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told “CBS This Morning” that Vice President Pence is a “very effective debater” ahead of the vice presidential debate between Pence and California Senator Kamala Harris. “I’ve seen him debating for governor and debating for vice president as well,” Buttigieg, a former South Bend, Indiana mayor, said. “He has an ability to deliver lines with a high degree of confidence whether they’re true or not.”

CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says Buttigieg, who advocated for Supreme Court reform during his presidential run, deflected when asked about if Harris could clarify the Democratic ticket’s position on court packing. Buttigieg said the debate will focus on issues that are “at stake right now.” Buttigieg added, “We’ve got less than 30 days until the election and a matter of weeks before the court may entertain a case that could decide whether pre-existing care – pre-existing condition coverage — is taken away from millions of Americans as Republicans try to overthrow the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.”

DID YOU HEAR THAT?

“THE DEBRIEF”

In the newest episode of “The Debrief with Major Garret,” CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett explores polling and election night projections in interviews with top pollsters and decision desk editors including CBS News Elections and Surveys Director Anthony Salvanto.

The episode takes a look at why the 2016 election has given certain pollsters PTSD and how news organizations like the Associated Press decide how to call a race.

“I think the people expect polls to be 100% accurate, and they get very upset when they’re not, you know, in polling, we are constantly doing our best to try to anticipate and understand people’s sentiments and get as close as we can as of an accurate pulse on where voters are at a certain point,” said Carly Cooperman, the CEO and partner of Schoen Cooperman research.

ISSUES THAT MATTER

VOTING RIGHTS

More Than A Vote, a voting rights organization led by athletes including NBA superstar Lebron James, announced a partnership with the ride sharing service Lyft in Harris County, which is home to Houston.

CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman reports the partnership comes after Texas Governor Greg Abbott is prohibiting more than one mail-in ballot drop-off location per county. There are more than 2 million registered voters in Harris County. Under this partnership, Lyft will provide transportation up to $15 to the NRG Arena ballot drop-off site. Former NBA player and More Than A Vote member Kendrick Perkins, who resides in Harris County, said in a statement that the partnership will help provide some access to voters, but that voters in Harris County voters should have more options in the first place.

“No doubt Harris County voters should have greater access to ballot drop-off options, but given the current reality, we’re going to help people vote in whatever way we can,” Perkins said.

STATE-BY-STATE

ARIZONA

The Senate GOP’s campaign arm moved overnight to appeal a federal court’s ruling extending Arizona’s voter registration cutoff to October 23, after two groups in the battleground state — Mi Familia Vota and the Arizona Coalition for Change — won an eleventh-hour plea to postpone the deadline over lagging voter registration figures.

Republicans in the state quickly denounced the decision, warning of “substantial confusion and new burdens for voters and election officials.”

CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin reports news of ruling comes amid a flurry of legal battles in the state as counties prepare to mail out ballots this week. The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently granted a request to expedite an appeal of a ruling denying members of the Navajo Nation an extension to the state’s ballot deadline.

In Cochise County, the Arizona Center for Disability Law asked a federal court late Monday for a preliminary injunction to allow for curbside voting. And before the state’s supreme court, election officials in Arizona’s largest county late Monday celebrated a decision allowing for some voters to cast ballots through video.

FLORIDA

Following reports of voters experiencing technical difficulties with online voter registration in the hours before the state’s initial registration deadline on October 5, Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee issued a directive Tuesday that will extend the voter registration deadline until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6.

CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters that issues began with the online voter registration site around 5 p.m. Monday evening that correlated with an unprecedented amount of traffic online with people registering in the last hours.

In addition to announcing the deadline was extended until 7 p.m. Tuesday, DeSantis also said supervisor of elections offices throughout the state were to remain open until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Local departments of motor vehicles and tax collector offices throughout the state were also urged to remain open until 7 p.m. to allow people to register in-person today.

Florida voter registration applications will also be accepted as long as they’re postmarked by the new deadline, according to DeSantis.

“They’re investigating some of the issues of kind of what led to it but it was an inordinate amount of traffic,” said DeSantis during the press conference Tuesday. “We really think it’s important that there also be live people that can help and then it’s not just internet or nothing because I mean, you can have the best site in the world, sometimes there’s hiccups on it. And so this way, people even when they get off from work, they’re going to have till 7:00 where they could be able to go do that.”

However top Democrat and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried said in a tweet Tuesday that the new deadline could still leave Floridians struggling to register. “While Governor Ron DeSantis has extended the voter registration deadline, the new 7 p.m. deadline forces Floridians to scramble to register, and that’s only if they see the news,” said Fried in a tweet.

Fried was one of the first to call out problems with the online registration tool on Monday, flagging the website as “broken” and calling on DeSantis to “fix it now” in a tweet. Since the extension was announced Tuesday afternoon, both the Democratic and Republican state parties and Joe Biden have called on informed voters of the extension.

MICHIGAN

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill today to give clerks in some cities a head start on processing absentee ballots before Election Day, but officials are still urging people to be patient for results, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster.

The law allows clerks in cities with at least 25,000 people to open absentee ballot envelopes and do some pre-processing work for 10 hours on the Monday before Election Day. Ballots cannot be counted until Election Day.

Michigan normally does not allow clerks to get started processing absentee ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day, but there was a major push from Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and local clerks to extend that period due to the massive amount of absentee ballots that are expected to be cast in the election.

While Benson said she’s grateful for the change, she said it doesn’t go as far as she would like and still believes it may take until Friday after the election to count all of Michigan’s votes.

“This legislation today is a step in the right direction. It does not go far enough,” Benson said. “Importantly this does not change our statewide estimation as to when results will be announced this fall.”

Benson again projected record turnout in Michigan’s general election. Already, more than 2.7 million Michigan voters have requested absentee ballots and more than 384,000 people have returned their ballots. At this point in 2016, there were just over 800,000 requests and nearly 78,000 people had returned ballots.

NEVADA

The Trump campaign announced this week another stop on Vice President Pence’s Western swing: he will rally supporters in Southern Nevada following his debate with Senator Kamala Harris in nearby Utah and ahead of a stop in neighboring Arizona.

While past Trump campaign events in the state have drawn ire in recent months for violating the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin reports Nevada’s governor recently relaxed gathering limits to accommodate up to 250 people.

Also in Nevada, the Culinary Union says one of its members “acted inadvertently and without authorization” when leaving a flyer in a mailbox, after a Trump campaign aide in the state raised alarm over a photo posted by the Los Angeles Times of a canvasser from the influential Nevada labor group “going into people’s mailboxes.”

First enacted during the Great Depression to curb people dodging postage costs, Tin says federal law restricts access to mailboxes to the postal service — a rule the Culinary Union said it conveys in written instructions to their canvassers. Past violations have reportedly incurred warnings from federal authorities and bills for the missing postage.

NEW JERSEY

A federal court today denied the Trump campaign’s injunction to stop New Jersey from counting ballots 10 days before Election Day and accepting ballots received two days after Election Day (without postmark limitation), reports CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte.

In a written statement U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp denied the campaign’s motion to override the New Jersey law, explaining that federal law ought not override state legislation.

“The interpretation that the federal Election Day statutes preempt any state discretion on the timing of election-related activity cannot be reconciled with Congress’s requirement that states permit absentee voting, but leaving the manner and timing of absentee voting to the discretion of each state,” the judge wrote.

NEW MEXICO

Federal authorities announced Tuesday new details of their plan to devote more resources to the coming general election at a press conference with New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, current president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin reports federal officials say their effort, which will include an FBI command post and prosecutor assigned to focus on the coming election, is part of an unprecedented effort to address potential election threats and civil rights violations this year.

OHIO

Early voting started on Tuesday in Ohio, and there were long lines of voters outside county boards of elections offices in Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland, according to videos and photos circulating on social media.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced that as of October 2, Ohio’s county boards of elections have received 2,154,235 absentee ballot applications. At the same point in 2016, the county boards of elections received 1,091,188 absentee ballot applications.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections said it sent 157,000 absentee ballots to voters who requested an absentee ballot, which surpassed the total number of absentee ballots cast — in-person and by mail — in the county in the 2016 general election, according to data from the secretary of state’s office.

A Hamilton County elections official told CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman that as of 1 p.m., 1,857 people voted in person and 44 people cast a provisional ballot.

Similarly, Franklin County has seen an influx of absentee ballot applications, compared to the 2016 general election. The Franklin County boards of elections mailed out more than 237,000 absentee ballots to voters ahead of early voting, according to Aaron Sellers, who is the public information officer for the Franklin County board of elections.

To kick off early voting in the state, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign is starting to air ads in the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton markets. The Biden campaign is also running radio ads in multiple metropolitan and rural markets across the state.

PENNSYLVANIA

A Philadelphia judge on Tuesday heard arguments over whether poll watchers are required to be allowed inside satellite election offices.

CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak reports the Trump campaign filed the lawsuit after Philadelphia elections officials refused to allow Trump campaign representatives to watch voters registering, filling out ballots and returning them at satellite elections offices last week.

Philadelphia’s commissioners and the secretary of the commonwealth, the top elections official in the state, have contended that such sites don’t qualify as polling places, and that there isn’t even a procedure to certify poll watchers for early voting at them.

Linda Kerns, representing the Trump campaign, argued Tuesday before Judge Gary Glazer, that Philadelphia’s elections officials advertised the locations as a place where you can “vote” and that they thus qualify as polling places.

“They decided to open these early voting centers, and when they did, they should have contemplated that candidates were going to watch, and they cannot be allowed to skirt,” she said, adding that members of the media were allowed in the offices, but Trump campaign representatives weren’t.

Ben Field, a deputy city solicitor, argued that the election code only considers voting centers on election day to be polling places.

“There is nothing about the fact that ballots are being filled out, whether at a kitchen table in a post office in a hallway, or in an office the Board of Elections established that requires any sort of observation whatsoever,” he argued.

Now, the decision is up to Glazer, although both parties will have a right to appeal. “I’ve got to think about it” Glazer said. “It’s not an everyday question, but I will decide it in due course.”

SOUTH CAROLINA

In what has become a whirlwind of events regarding the witness signature requirement for South Carolina voters’ absentee ballots, CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that the Supreme Court ordered late Monday evening that South Carolina voters do need a witness signature in order for their ballots to be counted in the upcoming general election.

The order comes with less than a month ahead of the November 3 election.

In a statement issued by the South Carolina Election Commission Tuesday, the commission reiterated that ballots received through Wednesday, October 7 will be accepted without a witness signature.

“South Carolinians voting absentee by mail must now have their signatures on ballot return envelopes witnessed after the United States Supreme Court late yesterday reinstated the requirement,” said the SCEC in a statement. “Under the court’s order, ballots already received by county officials and those received through October 7 will be counted regardless of whether the return envelope bears a witness signature.”

The commission added that in order for voters to ensure their absentee ballot counts, they should sign the voter’s oath on the ballot return envelope, have a witness sign and provide address, and return their ballot before 7:00 p.m. on November 3.

South Carolina State Representative J.A. Moore, whose mother is a lead plaintiff in the initial lawsuit to strike the witness requirement, said that despite the challenges the witness requirement may pose for voters, he’s encouraged that this order will also motivate voters to exercise their right in November.

“What we’ve seen is that those that are in power, that don’t want real changes to happen, it’s a roadblock. I think, it is another way to suppress people’s right as citizens to vote,” said Moore. “But…I’ve gotten so many calls over the past six hours of people that are even more emboldened to vote because they know their power, because there’s been so many people trying to stop them from voting or create even more roadblocks during a global pandemic. So, I think in a lot of ways it has motivated people to vote early, to have an action plan on how they’re going to vote safely.”

WISCONSIN

The Milwaukee Election Commission announced on Tuesday that the Fiserv Forum, home to the Bucks, and Miller Park, home to the Brewers, won’t be used as early voting in-person absentee voting sites over concerns about potential legal challenges, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster.

“Unfortunately, the addition of these two sites could be legally challenged due to a recent court ruling, and we don’t want to do anything that could risk a City of Milwaukee voter’s ballot being counted,” Claire Woodall-Vogg, Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director, said in a statement. “We want residents of Milwaukee to feel complete and unwavering confidence that their ballot will be counted in the election and this action reflects that commitment.”

Woodall-Vogg told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the decision stemmed from a federal judge’s rejection of requests to expand early voting and guidance issued yesterday by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

The WEC notice said the deadline to authorize additional voting sites was June 12 and the WEC has “no ability to authorize” clerks to designate additional in-person absentee voting sites. Milwaukee officials announced the two arenas as early voting sites in August.

Last week, the chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin sent a note to the Milwaukee Election Commission warning about potential “electioneering” issues at the sites if Bucks or Brewers players or mascots were around during early voting. Woodall-Vogg said there would still be a record 13 early in-person absentee voting sites in the city of Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ administration also announced on Tuesday that it would limit public indoor gatherings, including bars and restaurants, to 25% capacity, reports Brewster. The move comes as Wisconsin has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases that has pushed some hospitals to the brink.

“There is no other way to say it: we are overwhelmed,” Evers said during a press conference on Tuesday. Evers’ top attorney, Ryan Nilsestuen, said he expects legal challenges from conservative groups or Republicans, who have pushed back against Evers’ COVID-19 orders since the spring.

Legislative Republicans recently filed a brief supporting a conservative legal group’s challenge to Evers’ statewide mask order. In May, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Evers’ safer at home order following a challenge by legislative Republicans. Nilsestuen said he believes this new order could survive a legal challenge. Evers’ order takes effect on Thursday morning.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court said on Tuesday that Republicans in the legislature have standing to represent the state’s interests in court, meaning they can continue to appeal a decision to extend Wisconsin’s absentee ballot deadline.

Brewster reports that a federal judge recently ruled that Wisconsin must accept absentee ballots postmarked by November 3 that arrive by November 9. Ballots are normally due when polls close on Election Day. Republicans appealed that decision, but a panel of judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the legislature wasn’t able to bring the challenge. The legislature asked the full slate of judges on the 7th Circuit to hear its appeal, and the court turned to the State Supreme Court for guidance. Because of the State Supreme Court’s ruling, Republicans can continue to appeal the extended absentee ballot deadline.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE SENATE

NORTH CAROLINA

A spokesperson for Senator Thom Tillis’ reelection campaign said in a statement Tuesday morning that every campaign staff member who was in close proximity to Senator Tillis last week has tested negative for COVID-19 as of Monday.

Tillis tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. The campaign will still keep its Charlotte campaign headquarters closed for the rest of the week out of an abundance of caution, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.

Tillis, in an interview on Fox News Tuesday morning, said he “feels great.” He also said he plans to attend the first day or two of next week’s confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett virtually but may be able to attend the rest in person after he’s cleared.

CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that though Tillis’ campaign has been closed due to health precaution, the state’s Republican Party has continued to call out Tillis’ Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham in light of the news of his extramarital affair.

The Republican Governor’s Association said in tweet Tuesday that North Carolina Democratic governor Roy Cooper should be calling on Cunningham to “come clean & tell voters the whole story before any more votes are cast.”

The NCGOP made a similar request in a tweet to North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin, who will be touring multiple counties in the state.

“Since Cal Cunningham refuses to answer questions about the most serious scandal to rock North Carolina politics since the John Edwards sex scandal,” began the NCGOP in the tweet. “Maybe the Chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party might while he’s campaigning across the state.”

IN THE HOUSE

President Trump’s decision to drop any further COVID-19 stimulus package negotiations until after the election adds to months of stalemate on Capitol Hill and could have ramifications for the House battlefield.

For months, congressional leaders have been slammed over their failure to agree on another economic relief bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put the onus on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not taking up the HEROES Act or increasing the funding, while Republicans have often painted the demands in the act as a “liberal wish list.”

But Mr. Trump put the blame solely on Pelosi Tuesday, tweeting that she’s asking for “$2.4 Trillion Dollars to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States, money that is in no way related to COVID-19” and that he has “instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.”

The budget for the relief package has been debated before, with Republicans offering at least $1.1 trillion and Democrats setting $2.2 trillion as their floor. In a statement, Pelosi said Mr. Trump “showed his true colors” by walking away from the deal.

“Walking away from coronavirus talks demonstrates that President Trump is unwilling to crush the virus, as is required by the Heroes Act,” she wrote. Earlier on Tuesday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell urged Congress to pass an aid deal, saying that “the recovery will be stronger and move faster if monetary policy and fiscal policy continue to work side by side to provide support to the economy until it is clearly out of the woods.”

Two Democrat Representatives from Pennsylvania, Chrissy Houlahan and Matt Cartwright, told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro before Mr. Trump’s Tweets they were hopeful about passing a deal.

Houlahan, a freshman Democrat who flipped her West Philadelphia suburban seat in 2018, said she was on a call with Pelosi and the Pennsylvania delegation Monday night and that passing a deal was said to be a main priority.

Congressman John Katko of New York is a member, along with Houlahan, of the House’s Problem Solver’s Caucus. He is also one of two incumbent Republicans seeking re-election to a district Clinton won in 2016. In a Tweet Tuesday, he said he disagrees with the president’s approach.

“With lives at stake, we cannot afford to stop negotiations on a relief package…I strongly urge the President to rethink this move,” he wrote.

Hill-HarrisX poll from September 30 to October 1 found that respondents would prefer the Senate pass a COVID-19 relief bill first, rather than confirming Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Dr. Jean W. Harris, a political science professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, told Navarro the lack of a deal could have “big impacts” on the Northeast portion of the state, an important area to Trump’s 2016 win.

“I think the economic ramifications of that decision to stop talking to that ‘radical Pelosi’ — people will recognize that as a concern,” she said, adding that it may mobilize more Democratic voters.

GOVERNOR’S MANSION

MISSOURI

Weeks after testing positive for COVID-19, Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s office issued a statement Monday afternoon saying he and First Last Teresa Parson have “fully recovered and returned to their regular schedules.”

Their statement also revealed that four of the governor’s staffers have tested positive “since the beginning of Missouri’s fight with COVID-19” and have also fully recovered. Parson is not planning to be retested and that anyone “meeting the definition of close contact” tested negative, the statement said.

He is facing one of the more competitive gubernatorial re-elections in 2020 against Democrat Nicole Galloway. Parson’s campaign did say he would be attending in-person campaign events soon, and campaign manager Steele Shippy told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro the governor “has always and will continue to follow the recommended health and safety protocols and looks forward to the final weeks of the campaign.”

Throughout the pandemic, Parson has not issued a statewide mask mandate, leaving that decision to local officials, and he has also been seen at campaign events without a mask. Galloway, currently Missouri’s state auditor, has said she would issue a statewide mask mandate if elected and has been criticizing Parson on his pandemic response all summer. More recently she’s pointed to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about at least 1,800 state employees testing positive.

The two have their first debate this Friday.

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