President Trump said on Tuesday he was considering putting his own money into the 2020 campaign — “If I have to, I will,” he said — as his campaign manager did not dispute a report that his campaign is facing a cash crunch.
Of the $1.1 billon his campaign and the party raised from the beginning of 2019 through July, more than $800 million has already been spent. Now some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch with less than 60 days until the election, according to Republican officials briefed on the matter.
Mr. Trump put more than $50 million into his 2016 primary run but declined to fund his campaign in the general election. He has not put any of his own funds into his 2020 campaign so far.
“Whatever it takes, we have to win,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he prepared to depart on a trip to Florida.
He later wrote on Twitter that he did not expect to need to put in his own money, writing “If more money is needed, which I doubt it will be, I will put it up!”
….Like I did in the 2016 Primaries, if more money is needed, which I doubt it will be, I will put it up!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 8, 2020
After The New York Times reported that the Trump campaign had lost its financial advantage due to profligate spending, Bill Stepien, who took over as campaign manager in July, did not deny that the campaign was facing a cash crunch in a strategy call with reporters on Tuesday.
“If money was the only factor determining winners and losers in politics, Jeb Bush would have been the nominee in 2016. And we’d have a second President Clinton right now in the Oval Office,” Mr. Stepien said. “Reminder,” he added, “Candidate Trump was outspent $1.2 billion-$646 million in 2016. So just keep that in the back of your minds.”
Mr. Stepien emphasized that the Trump campaign had far more money on hand than in 2016.
”We are now carefully managing the budget,” he said, something he called among “the most important tasks for any campaign manager. Creating or recreating the budget was the first thing that I did upon becoming the campaign manager and it’s something that we, as a team, manage every single day.”
Mr. Stepien has imposed a series of changes that affected staff travel, hiring and the ad budget, as the Trump campaign sharply reduced its television ad buy in late August.
He said that the campaign’s early spending on field programs was not something the Democrats could match. “Our early investment in states is going to move the needle in a way that Joe Biden’s campaign just can’t do, even if they tried starting now,” Mr. Stepien said.
After almost entirely avoiding air travel for the last six months and ceding the opportunity to campaign in far-flung swing states, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, will be traversing the map this week in a manner vaguely reminiscent of a normal presidential campaign.
Mr. Biden is due in Michigan on Wednesday, while Ms. Harris will be campaigning on Thursday in Florida. And Jill Biden, the former second lady, will visit Minnesota — a blue-tinted state that President Trump barely lost in 2016.
Of course, their activities on the ground are unlikely to look much like a traditional presidential race, judging by their travels so far. When Mr. Biden visited Pennsylvania on Labor Day, his activities were limited to a socially distanced meeting with workers in a backyard and a virtual town hall hosted from the Harrisburg headquarters of the state A.F.L.-C.I.O. Ms. Harris kept a similarly restrained itinerary in her Monday trip to Milwaukee.
Still, that they are hitting the road at all represents a significant shift in their joint posture — a welcome one for swing-state Democrats who worry that voters are growing impatient with Mr. Biden’s abstemious approach to the trail.
The Republican ticket will be no less active this week, though for Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that is not a departure from the norm. Their campaign has been behaving for some time as though the coronavirus is a fading consideration, holding rallies at airport hangars where social distancing and mask-wearing are hardly the rule.
Mr. Trump starts his week Tuesday visiting Florida and North Carolina and ends it Saturday in Nevada, another state he lost by a small margin in 2016.
In some respects, the mode of campaigning is the message for both tickets: The Democrats have made Mr. Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus the central theme of their general-election campaign, while Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have been promising the pandemic will soon be a thing of the past.
But as always, the political subject of the week remains a question mark until Mr. Trump next speaks. Few in either party expected to spend the end of last week addressing allegations that the president had derided American war dead, and about as many could have predicted that his Labor Day message would include a sharp swipe at Pentagon leaders for allegedly being in league with the arms industry.
The authorities in Georgia are threatening criminal action against 1,000 voters in Georgia who voted twice this year — once by mail and once in person at polling places.
Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, held a news conference Tuesday to announce that investigations were under way in 100 of the state’s 159 counties following the discovery of 1,000 instances of double voting in the state’s June primary and August run-off elections.
“We will prosecute,” said Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, noting that double voting in Georgia carries a penalty of one to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. He noted that double-voting hadn’t changed the outcome of any races.
The scenario Mr. Raffensperger described appeared to be identical to the one suggested by President Trump last week, when he told reporters in North Carolina that voters should test the integrity of the election system by voting by mail and then subsequently appearing at the polls in person.
Safeguards are supposed to flag such discrepancies so that double votes aren’t counted.
Elections officials nationwide said that Mr. Trump’s comments had created confusion among voters in an already stressful election year.
It was not clear how many of the 1,000 instances of double voting were intentional efforts to vote twice and how many were done by people who had submitted an absentee ballot but did not know whether it had arrived and been counted.
“At the end of the day, the voter was responsible and the voters know what they were doing,” Mr. Raffensperger said. “A double voter knows exactly what they were doing, diluting the votes of each and every voter that follows the law.”
The Trump campaign has injected one of the country’s greatest hopes for overcoming the coronavirus pandemic — the push to develop an effective vaccine — into the presidential race with his latest campaign ad.
For months, the Trump campaign has struggled to lock in a cohesive message on the pandemic. After the administration downplayed and bungled the early response to the coronavirus, there has been little success for President Trump to tout in his re-election campaign.
So his campaign is trading instead on a hope for a vaccine, and a promise to rebuild the economy.
The ad opens with the camera panning across bottles labeled “COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine” while a narrator claims that “the finish line is approaching” for a vaccine. That is quickly followed by a promise to bring back “the greatest economy the world has ever seen,” a promise that hinges more on the president’s hope than on any tangible plans or platforms that he has released.
The ad attempts to draw a contrast between Mr. Trump’s pledge to rebuild the economy and remarks from Joseph R. Biden Jr., using a selectively edited clip that shows Mr. Biden saying he would “shut it down.” (The clip comes from an interview in which Mr. Biden said he would only shut down the country again if scientists recommended doing so.)
The ad fits into a broader arc that the Trump campaign is trying to sell: a pitch that the worst of the coronavirus is behind the country, and that the president is the best candidate to rebuild the economy.
The ad claims that the “finish line is approaching” for a vaccine. Earlier this month, the C.D.C. notified public health officials that they should prepare to begin distributing a coronavirus vaccine to some high-risk groups as soon as late October or early November. But Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the top scientist on Operation Warp Speed, recently warned in an interview with National Public Radio that the chance of successful vaccine results by October was “very, very low.” Health officials have also raised concerns that the Trump administration is seeking to rush a vaccine before Election Day on Nov. 3.
The ad boasts about adding 1.37 million jobs in August, but that was down from the gains in the three previous months, and included the hiring of nearly a quarter-million temporary census workers.
And Mr. Biden does not plan to shut the country down. He said that he would only do so, if elected, if scientists and health experts told him it was necessary.
Where It’s Running
The ad is currently running in five battleground states: Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan. More may be added in the coming days.
While the most vocal message out of the Trump campaign has been a strident stoking of racial divisions amid the protests against racism and police brutality around the country, the new ad is a recognition that the president’s re-election bid cannot simply ignore the coronavirus pandemic, particularly as many polls find the virus to still be the top concern of voters around the country.
As the presidential campaign entered the post-Labor Day sprint to the finish line, President Trump returned to a familiar theme this week: minimizing the threat posed by the coronavirus, sometimes in ways that contradict the advice of federal health authorities.
Mr. Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to insist that “New York City must stop the Shutdown now” and then to claim that virus restrictions in other states were “only being done to hurt the economy prior to the most important election, perhaps, in our history.”
A day earlier he criticized a reporter for wearing a mask at a White House news conference, despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that “everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household.”
It was part of a familiar pattern for Mr. Trump, who back in March began pushing for states to reopen by Easter, on April 12. (More than 160,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States since Easter, according to a New York Times database.) In mid-April Mr. Trump sided with protesters who were chafing at virus restrictions, calling to “LIBERATE” several states including Minnesota and Virginia, which both saw cases rise in subsequent weeks. And in June he held an in-person campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., which local health officials said likely contributed to more cases there.
The outbreak in the United States is one of the worst in the world: it has the most reported total cases, more 6.3 million, and the most reported deaths, more than 189,000, according to a New York Times database. And it has lagged other wealthy nations when it has come to taming the virus.
Mr. Trump, who rarely wears masks, made fun of his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., last week for wearing one, suggesting that it stemmed from a psychological need to feel safe. At a White House news conference on Monday, he asked a reporter, Jeff Mason of Reuters, to take his mask off as he asked a question.
Mr. Mason kept his mask on. “I’ll speak a lot louder,” he said.
A little later, another reporter took his mask off to ask Mr. Trump a question, pleasing the president. “You sound so clear, as opposed to everybody else where they refuse,” he said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said officials would place hundreds of drop boxes for absentee ballots at voting sites around New York, adopting a method already in practice in other states.
The decision comes on the heels of another by Mr. Cuomo to sign a bill to allow voters to request absentee ballots for the November election if they fear contracting or spreading an illness, a harsh reality in a state that continues to rebound from a spring surge of the coronavirus, which killed more than 30,000 people in New York. Absentee ballots can also be requested online.
The new executive order would permit voters to drop ballots at early voting sites during a nine-day period, from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, before the Nov. 3 election. Such ballots can also be dropped at county Board of Elections offices immediately, and at in-person polling sites on Election Day.
New York was widely criticized by Republicans, including President Trump, for its handling of the June primary, when there were tens of thousands of disqualified ballots and weeks of delays before official results were announced in some races. Election officials attributed the problems to a record number of absentee ballots as voters sought to avoid crowds — and possible infection — at polling sites.
New York had long lagged behind other states in voting reforms before a successful push for changes by Democratic lawmakers last year. And since the June primary and its problems, a number of other changes have been passed, as Mr. Cuomo has also used executive orders to try to address increase staffing and voter awareness.
“We want fair voting, we want easy voting,” Mr. Cuomo said on Tuesday. “And we want accurate voting.”
Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, on Monday called on the Postal Service’s board of governors to suspend Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, while she investigates allegations that he asked former employees to make campaign contributions to Republicans and gave them bonuses to defray the cost.
“If these allegations are true, Mr. DeJoy could face criminal exposure — not only for his actions in North Carolina, but also for lying to our committee under oath,” Ms. Maloney said in a statement. “We will be investigating this issue, but I believe the board of governors must take emergency action to immediately suspend Mr. DeJoy, who they never should have selected in the first place.”
Ms. Maloney’s committee on Wednesday issued a subpoena for documents she said Mr. DeJoy had withheld from Congress related to mail delays and communications with the Trump campaign. Since then, Mr. DeJoy, a Republican megadonor and onetime executive of a shipping company based in North Carolina, New Breed Logistics, has been accused of cultivating an environment at his former company that left employees feeling pressured to make donations to Republican candidates, and rewarded them with bonuses for doing so.
The practice was described to The New York Times by three former employees at New Breed Logistics who said that workers would receive bonuses if they donated to candidates he supported, and that it was expected that managers would participate. A fourth employee confirmed that managers at the company were routinely solicited to make donations. The four former employees spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional retaliation.
The former employees did not say how explicit Mr. DeJoy was about linking the campaign contributions he was encouraging to the extra compensation, but three of them said it was widely believed that the bonuses were meant to reimburse the political donations, an allegation first reported by The Washington Post.
Federal campaign finance law bars straw-donor schemes, in which an individual reimburses someone else to donate to a political campaign in order to skirt contribution limits. But it is legal to encourage employees to make donations, as Mr. DeJoy routinely did.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has called for the North Carolina attorney general to investigate the allegations. At a hearing last month, Mr. DeJoy angrily denied a suggestion by Representative Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, that he had reimbursed his employees’ political donations.
“That’s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it,” Mr. DeJoy responded. “What are you accusing me of?” A spokesman for Mr. DeJoy has insisted that he followed federal and local laws.
Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire will decide Tuesday which challenger will take on the Republican governor, Chris Sununu, in November in what is expected to be one of the country’s most competitive governor’s races.
They will choose between Dan Feltes, the majority leader of the State Senate, and Andru Volinsky, a member of the five-person executive branch governing body known as the Executive Council. Mr. Volinsky has been endorsed by progressive groups and Senator Bernie Sanders.
Mr. Sununu first won his seat in 2016 by less than three percentage points and is favored for re-election to his third two-year term.
Tuesday’s primary will also set up a key Senate contest in New Hampshire, where Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, is seeking a third term. Four Republican candidates are vying to challenge her. Corky Messner — the founder of a law firm and a former Army Ranger endorsed by President Trump — is favored.
In one of the state’s two House races, New Hampshire Republicans will decide whether to nominate Matt Mowers, a candidate also endorsed by Mr. Trump, to run against the incumbent Democrat, Representative Chris Pappas. Mr. Mowers has been within the Trump orbit, serving as a White House adviser at the State Department and in the 2016 Trump campaign; he was also previously the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party.
Hillary Clinton defeated Mr. Trump in New Hampshire four years ago by less than 3,000 votes.
Rhode Island is also holding Senate and House primaries on Tuesday. Some of the races are uncontested, and Democratic incumbents are widely expected to hold the Congressional seats in the general election.
There was talk of how to stay fit on the campaign trail and what music to listen to during down time. And then Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, had a request.
“So,” she said to former President Barack Obama, “tell me about Joe.”
In a roughly five-minute video produced by the Biden campaign and posted by Mr. Obama on Twitter Tuesday, Ms. Harris and Mr. Obama held a conversation in which the former president offered his insights about Ms Harris’s running mate — a man who was formerly his vice president.
Their first order of business, as it turned out, was to discuss Mr. Biden’s favorite foods.
“Ice cream is big,” Mr. Obama said. “Pasta with red sauce, he can go deep on that.”
Mr. Obama also made mention of Mr. Biden’s penchant for aviator glasses — “he knows he looks good in them” — before turning a tad more serious.
“The main thing to know about Joe is that Joe has never lost his sense of why we do this,” Mr. Obama said.
Ms. Harris and Mr. Obama also compared exercise routines on the trail. For months amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Harris said, hand weights had been sold out. So she filled liter bottles with water and lifted those; Mr. Obama recalled that when he would visit small towns in Iowa, he would search out a treadmill, even if that meant running on one in the back of a beauty salon.
“You are doing great,” Mr. Obama told Ms. Harris. “Make sure, though, you get those workouts in.”
The nation’s attention may be focused on the November elections, but in New York City, the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio next year is already getting crowded.
Kathryn Garcia, one of Mr. de Blasio’s most trusted cabinet members, resigned on Tuesday from her post as sanitation commissioner in anticipation of a potential run in next June’s Democratic primary.
If Ms. Garcia formally enters the race, she will be the third veteran of Mr. de Blasio’s administration — all of them women — to run for the job or consider doing so. Mr. de Blasio’s former top counsel, Maya Wiley, resigned from her position at MSNBC to prepare a mayoral run. Loree K. Sutton, who ran New York City’s Department of Veterans’ Services under Mr. de Blasio, announced her candidacy last year.
Before coronavirus descended on New York City, the field was thought to have been dominated by three men: Scott Stringer, the city comptroller; Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president; and Corey Johnson, the speaker of the New York City Council. Mr. Stringer has scheduled a news conference Tuesday morning to “make a major announcement at Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan, near his childhood home.”
It is not at all clear that being associated with Mr. de Blasio, one of the city’s less popular recent mayors, will boost a candidate’s chances. (Mr. de Blasio’s tenure is ending because New York City limits mayors to two terms.) But Ms. Garcia, 50, earned a reputation in City Hall for being the mayor’s go-to problem solver.
When the head of the New York City Housing Authority left office, Ms. Garcia was named to temporarily manage that agency. After the coronavirus sparked widespread food insecurity, Mr. de Blasio tapped Ms. Garcia to set up an emergency initiative to distribute millions of free meals. But to most voters, Ms. Garcia is a relative unknown.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former White House press secretary, jumped to President Trump’s defense as the administration has tried to cast doubt on a damning report in The Atlantic that Mr. Trump had privately referred to American troops killed in combat as “losers” and “suckers.”
In a video she posted online that had 3.4 million views by Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Sanders claimed, “I’ve also sat in the room when the president had to make the most difficult calls of his presidency: when he had to let a parent know that their son had been killed in the line of duty.”
“That’s a call no president wants to make,” she said. “In those moments, I saw the president’s heart. And I also saw his commitment to the men and women of our great military.”
In fact, that’s not a call that any president ever makes.
The news of a death is never delivered on the phone.
Each branch of the military has its own protocols for notifying next of kin, but all require a field grade officer of equal or higher grade than the member whose death they are notifying to do so in person. A chaplain or medical personnel is also expected to attend, in person, if possible, but notification is expected to be completed within eight hours of learning about the casualty.
Ms. Sanders said in a text message on Tuesday that the calls she was referring to in the video were condolence calls, not notification calls.
She also spoke about watching the president make notification calls during an interview on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, where she appeared as part of her national book tour for a new memoir, “Speaking for Myself.”
“I sat with him in the Oval Office as he had to make that awful call to let a parent know that their son had been killed in Afghanistan,” she said. After the anchor, George Stephanopoulos, asked for a clarification she said that she meant to say “a condolence call after that individual had been notified.” Ms. Sanders, a Fox News contributor, is considering a run for governor of her home state of Arkansas in 2023.
During her tenure as press secretary, Ms. Sanders admitted to investigators that she made a false statement in the White House briefing room when she claimed she had personally heard from “countless” rank-and-file F.B.I. agents who had lost confidence in James Comey, the former F.B.I. director fired by the president. A footnote in the Mueller Report, however, said that she recalled that the statement was made in the “heat of the moment” and was “not founded on anything.”