Florida will once again be the fulcrum of the presidential campaign on Thursday, with President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. speaking within hours of each other in Tampa as they battle for votes in a swing region of a swing state that often plays an outsized role in deciding who wins the presidency.
But the battle over whether the state will go red or blue in the election is overshadowed by its position on another color-coded map: Florida is listed in the red zone for coronavirus cases in the latest weekly report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which noted an increase in new cases over the past week.
The parallel appearances on Florida’s Gulf Coast mark a rare convergence for two combatants who have mostly hurled long-range insults at one another and tangled face to face only twice, at the presidential debates. In the hours before their events were due to start, supporters of both candidates cruised up and down the city’s main thoroughfares honking horns and waving banners.
Polls show the race tight, but Mr. Biden with a slight advantage. An NBC/Marist poll of Florida released Thursday morning found him holding a four-point edge over the president among likely voters — a lead within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points but in line with polls that have consistently found Mr. Biden slightly ahead in the state, which Mr. Trump carried in 2016 and which is crucial to his re-election hopes.
A Monmouth University poll released Thursday afternoon showed Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump by 50 percent to 45 percent among registered voters, and by 51 percent to 45 percent among likely voters if it is a high-turnout election. That poll also had a margin or error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Early voting in the state has been strong: with five days left before Election Day, the state has already received more than three-quarters of the votes that were counted in the entire 2016 presidential election, according to the United States Elections Project.
While it is unclear who the early votes were for, the party breakdown of those who have cast ballots suggests a close race. Democrats built up a big edge with mail-in ballots, but Republicans have eaten into their lead by casting more in-person votes. As of early Thursday afternoon, the project found that 40.5 percent of the early votes in Florida had been cast by Democrats, 37.7 percent by Republicans, and 21.7 percent by people without a party affiliation or who are in minor parties.
Florida’s I-4 corridor, a stretch of highway across Central Florida that links Tampa and Orlando, has long been seen as the swing zone that helped sway elections in the state.
This year, the area’s once-booming leisure and hospitality industry has been sent reeling by the virus in ways that could affect the presidential race. Unemployment in Orange County — home to Disney World, the Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld and smaller tourist attractions — stood at 10.4 percent in September. Osceola County, to its south, had the highest unemployment rate in the state: 13.3 percent.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a small but durable lead over President Trump in North Carolina, where fully 64 percent of likely voters say they have already cast their ballots, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released on Thursday.
And in a North Carolina race crucial to the control of the Senate, the Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, maintains a 46 to 43 percent edge over Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, despite a late-breaking scandal over romantic texts Mr. Cunningham sent to a woman who is not his wife.
Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump 48 percent to 45 percent in the survey, which was conducted after the final presidential debate last week. Nearly seven in 10 voters said they had watched the debate.
Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of 1,034 likely voters in North Carolina from Oct. 23 to Oct. 27.
Mr. Trump’s performance received mixed reviews in North Carolina, with voters split nearly evenly on who they thought won.
Mr. Trump is making his ninth campaign visit to North Carolina since early September tonight with a rally in Fayetteville, a sign that his campaign is worried about a state the president won by nearly four points in 2016.
This week, the state reported its second-highest number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus in a day, 1,214, since the pandemic began. At a North Carolina rally on Saturday in Lumberton, Mr. Trump had dismissed the virus threat as overblown and driven by political enemies. “Covid, Covid, Covid,” he said. “On Nov. 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”
The margins in both the presidential and Senate races in the state were nearly identical to those in the previous Times/Siena poll, in mid-October, which found Mr. Biden and Mr. Cunningham both ahead by four points. North Carolina is one of several states Democrats hope to flip in their bid to gain three seats and win back the Senate.
The poll of 1,034 likely voters has a margin of error of about four percentage points.
Many voting rules have changed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, making it harder than usual to figure out how to cast your ballot. So we did the work for you, in hopes of helping to make sure your vote is counted.
If you still have questions about the voting process or the election process in general, check out our frequently asked questions.
President Trump’s campaign is pursuing a three-pronged strategy in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania that would effectively suppress mail-in votes there, moving to stop the processing of absentee votes before Election Day, pushing to limit how late mail-in ballots can be accepted and intimidating Pennsylvanians trying to vote early.
The state is one of a handful that by law prevent mail-in votes from being counted until Election Day. In Pennsylvania and other swing states, these ballots are expected to skew heavily toward Democrats.
In an effort to accommodate a pandemic-driven avalanche of absentee ballots, Pennsylvania, like many other states, has tried to relax some rules, like the one that requires all votes to be counted within six days after Election Day, by extending the period to nine days. But the Trump campaign has leaned on Republican allies in the legislature to prevent any changes.
Among many other lawsuits, the campaign has mounted litigation in state, local and federal courts to curtail how late mail-in votes can be accepted and to challenge other rules and procedures. On Wednesday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a fast-tracked plea from Pennsylvania Republicans to block the three-day extension of the deadline for receiving absentee ballots in the state.
The Trump campaign has also dispatched its officials to early voting sites, videotaped voters and even pressed election administrators in the Philadelphia area to stop people from delivering more than one ballot to a drop box.
The intensity of the Trump campaign’s efforts in Philadelphia stems in part from the man running its Election Day operations nationwide: Michael Roman, a native Philadelphian who cut his teeth in city politics before running a domestic intelligence-gathering operation for the conservative Koch brothers. Like his boss, Mr. Roman has persistently made public statements undermining confidence in the electoral process.
Neither Mr. Roman nor the campaign would comment for this article.
Some residents have been left bewildered by the Trump campaign’s attention this year. During the primary election over the summer, Adam S. Goodman, an insurance lawyer, posted a photo on Instagram in which he proudly held up two mail-in ballots outside a drop box. He learned the Trump campaign had used the photo in litigation against the city to illustrate an accusation that some voters were dropping off more than one ballot.
But Mr. Goodman said his husband was simply standing out of the frame when the picture was taken.
The president, who was in the state Monday, had ominous words for voters there. “A lot of strange things happening in Philadelphia,” he said during a stop in Allentown. “We’re watching you, Philadelphia. We’re watching at the highest level.”
Law enforcement officials, at least in Philadelphia, were unbowed by the president’s threats.
“Keep your Proud Boys, goon squads and uncertified ‘poll watchers’ out of our city, Mr. President,” said Lawrence S. Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney. “Break the law here, and I’ve got something for you.”
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, has suddenly started appearing on Fox News from a set-up at President Trump’s re-election headquarters, further blurring the lines between government and political activity.
In one appearance earlier this week, in which she was announced as both a campaign senior adviser and the White House press secretary, Ms. McEnany talked up the president’s political rallies.
“At each of our rallies yesterday, I was with the president, we made three stops on Lancaster and all across the state,” she said in the interview. “And in each of those stops we played a video for the public. Joe Biden said roll the tape, President Trump. When did I say ban fracking? Well, we rolled it.”
In the interview, Ms. McEnany did not say she was speaking in a position as a campaign adviser. Nor did the campaign or the White House ever announce that she was serving in both roles. When she left the campaign to become the White House press secretary, it was not made clear that she would continue on helping the campaign.
Throughout the campaign the Trump administration has been criticized for blurring lines between government and politics and violating longstanding norms, and, in many cases, the Hatch Act, which bans political activity in the federal workplace.
At the Republican National Convention Mr. Trump delivered his acceptance speech from the South Lawn of the White House, turning the mansion into the backdrop for a political speech. The Office of the U.S. Special Counsel is investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by helping the Trump campaign in the course of his official duties, including by speaking to the Republican National Convention while on a diplomatic trip to Jerusalem.
Other administrations have found ways to deal with dividing the political and the governmental, such as when President Obama was running for re-election and Jay Carney, the White House press secretary at the time, would brief reporters traveling with Mr. Obama, while a campaign official, Jennifer Psaki, would brief the reporters on behalf of the campaign, a former Obama-era aide recalled.
Ms. McEnany’s recent appearances have become an encapsulation of the administration’s willingness to blur lines.
Sarah Matthews, a White House spokeswoman, said that Ms. McEnany “appeared on Fox News and Fox Business in her personal capacity as a private citizen. She advises the campaign on a voluntary basis.” A campaign official said that shows that air interviews with her have been instructed not to use her White House title.
Mr. Trump has expressed frustration that he has few people on television defending him beyond the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. He has noted that in 2016, his adviser Kellyanne Conway was on television constantly in the final stretch. He has also complained to aides that Ms. McEnany only goes on Fox News.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted on Thursday that Democrats would win back the White House and said she was already making preparations for a Joseph R. Biden Jr. presidency.
“I feel very confident that Joe Biden will be elected president on Tuesday,” Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, told reporters at her last news conference before Election Day. She spent much of it savaging President Trump for leading the country down a “deadly path” by failing to take the coronavirus threat seriously.
“So while we don’t want to be overconfident or assume anything,” she added, “we have to be ready for how we’re going to go down a different path.”
Ms. Pelosi said that meant pushing to complete a sweeping coronavirus relief bill in Congress’s lame duck session after the election, rather than waiting for Mr. Biden to take office should he win.
“I want a bill for two reasons,” the speaker said. “First and foremost, the American people need help, they need real help. Second of all, we have plenty to do in a Joe Biden administration.”
Democrats’ agenda would depend heavily on whether they also win control of the Senate, but Ms. Pelosi laid out several early priorities. They included an infrastructure bill focused on creating green jobs, legislation building up the Affordable Care Act, and an omnibus anti-corruption bill House Democrats assembled last year.
“We want to have as clean a slate as possible going into January,” she said.
Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House have struggled to reach a deal for months, as Democrats have tried to pull the administration toward their own $3.4 trillion plan. Earlier Thursday, the speaker had written to Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, requesting a response to key outstanding differences in the talks around such a bill.
But it is far from clear that impasse can be broken in the weeks after the election, particularly if Mr. Trump loses or contests the outcome.
Ms. Pelosi, accusing Republicans of trying to depress the vote, also urged Americans using absentee ballots to drop them off in person rather than relying on the Postal Service.
“I hope that people will not depend on the mail because they have done all they can to dismantle the postal system,” she said of the Republicans who control the agency. “Even the Postal Service is saying it’s too late now to mail.”
When Senator Ted Cruz of Texas spoke with President Trump on the phone last week, he congratulated him on his debate performance, nudged him to keep driving policy-oriented attacks against his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and relayed one more message.
“We have a fight” in Texas, Mr. Cruz said he told Mr. Trump, warning him that the country’s second-largest electoral prize was in play and that he should take it seriously. In an interview, Mr. Cruz said he expected the president to win here — but that he also saw the same surging liberal energy in his state that had propelled Beto O’Rourke to a closer-than-expected defeat against him two years ago.
“There’s no doubt that it’s a real race,” said the senator, echoing a similar case Mr. O’Rourke made to Mr. Biden earlier this month in their own phone conversation.
But it’s not clear if Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden fully believe it.
They may be on opposite sides of the partisan divide, but Texas Republicans and Democrats alike believe the long-awaited moment has arrived: The state is a true presidential battleground, and either candidate could prevail next week.
Although a Democrat has not carried Texas since 1976, recent public and private polls suggest a highly competitive race, with some surveys showing Mr. Biden up narrowly and others showing Mr. Trump enjoying a small lead.
Yet even as leading figures in both parties urge their respective presidential nominees to take Texas seriously, the campaigns are still reluctant to spend precious remaining time and money there. Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Biden is expected to appear in the state before the election.
Though the state isn’t essential to a Biden victory, Democrats have been more aggressive in the state. Mr. Biden is dispatching his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, to Texas on Friday, and Democrats have also planned a multicity bus tour across the state.
A Biden win would doom Mr. Trump’s chances for re-election. More significantly, it would herald the arrival of a formidable multiracial Democratic coalition in the country’s largest red state. That would hand the Democrats an electoral upper hand nationwide and all but block Republicans from the White House until they improve their fortunes with college-educated white voters, younger people and minorities.
The Republican National Committee is going on the air in two battleground states in the final days before the election with an ad campaign that acknowledges two issues President Trump has often ignored or insisted are irrelevant: the coronavirus pandemic and high unemployment.
The ad, which will run in Michigan and North Carolina, is much softer in tone than many of Mr. Trump’s commercials. It avoids altogether the divisive racial and cultural themes that have dominated his campaign and run through his messaging, instead focusing on traditional bread-and-butter Republican issues like taxes and job creation.
On the screen, a woman wearing a mask stands at a voting machine mulling how she will cast her ballot.
“What about the Democrats?” she asks. “Higher taxes on employers? But my husband is looking for work.”
Then she lists a number of proposals that have backing from liberal Democrats but that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. does not support, which she describes in the language that Republicans often use: “government-run health care” and “ending private insurance.”
The woman then looks at the Republican side of her ballot. “Protect Medicare. Keep taxes low. More job creation,” she says, declaring, “This choice is clear.” Mr. Biden has proposed raising the corporate income tax rate and increasing income taxes on households with incomes above $400,000 a year.
The ad does not mention Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden by name because the R.N.C. has exhausted the spending limit under federal law that regulates coordinated spending between the party and the nominee.
Its departure from the president’s message couldn’t be clearer. Many of his ads have focused on scenes of violent protests and depicted a potential Biden presidency as one that would hobble the police and embolden lawlessness.
The R.N.C. is putting $3.2 million behind the ad.
In a pair of decisions welcomed by Democrats, the Supreme Court on Wednesday at least temporarily let election officials in two key battleground states, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, accept absentee ballots for several days after Election Day.
In the Pennsylvania case, the court refused a plea from Pennsylvania Republicans that it decide before Election Day whether the state can continue counting absentee ballots for three days after Nov. 3.
In the North Carolina case, the court let stand a lower court ruling that allowed the state’s board of elections to extend the deadline to nine days after Election Day, up from the three days called for by state legislators.
The court’s brief orders in the two cases were unsigned and gave no reasons.
The two cases involved broadly similar issues. In Pennsylvania, the question was whether the state’s Supreme Court could override voting rules set by the state legislature. In North Carolina, the question was whether state election officials had the power to alter such voting rules.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the court on Tuesday, did not take part in either case. A court spokeswoman said Justice Barrett said she had not participated “because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings.”
Climate change is on the ballot this year, and not just in the presidential race.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Texas, where Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, poured $2.5 million into a Texas Railroad Commission race this week.
Contrary to its name, the 130-year-old regulatory body actually oversees the state’s oil and gas industry. Chrysta Castañeda, a Democrat, is vying for a spot on a platform of reducing methane flaring and other policies to address climate change.
“The industry acknowledges that climate change is real and that it is caused by human activities, including oil and gas extraction,” Ms. Castañeda, an engineer and lawyer, says on her website. “Yet our Texas Railroad Commissioners refuse to acknowledge this reality and do the things that would help us mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.”
Her opponent, Jim Wright, a Republican businessman, is running on securing the border to protect infrastructure and on bolstering the oil and gas industry. He also has espoused some fringe theories about both climate change and renewable energy, according to an interview recently uncovered by the watchdog group Documented.
“There are a lot of documents out there, but nobody’s proven to me exactly, and pinpoint what, what is really hurting our atmosphere,” Mr. Wright said in an interview this month on the Oil and Gas Startups podcast. “What I do know about our Earth is we have evolved and continue to evolve. And I can tell you that summers are going to get hotter whether we had flaring or we had cars because the Earth is evolving.” Wind and solar power, he maintained, are more environmentally harmful than fossil fuels.
According to the congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment, human activity accounts for all of the warming over the last 50 years, when the majority of changes occurred. Mr. Wright did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Bloomberg ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination last year and has spent millions of dollars to shutter coal plants across the country. In a statement, he called Ms. Castañeda a “champion” for Texas.
Jon Ossoff, the Democratic nominee in one of Georgia’s two Senate races, slammed Senator David Perdue, his Republican opponent, as “a crook” on Wednesday night and accused him of trying to profit from the coronavirus pandemic.
The remark came during a bruising debate that underscored the bitter partisan divide in what was once a safely Republican state. Mr. Perdue, 70, said he had done nothing wrong, and accused Mr. Ossoff, 33, of pursuing a “radical socialist agenda” that would result in higher taxes.
Mr. Perdue, a wealthy former corporate executive, bought stock in DuPont de Nemours, which sells personal protective equipment, on Jan. 24, the same day he received a classified briefing on the threat posed by the coronavirus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“It’s not just that you’re a crook, Senator,” Mr. Ossoff said, turning to face his socially-distanced opponent as Mr. Perdue’s eyes remained fixed on the camera. “It’s that you’re attacking the health of the people that you represent. You did say Covid-19 was no deadlier than the flu. You did say there would be no significant uptick in cases. All the while you were looking after your own assets and your own portfolio.”
Mr. Perdue has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and said any transactions he made were executed by a financial adviser without his knowledge.
“The thing I’m most upset about,” Mr. Perdue said of Mr. Ossoff, “is that he’ll say and do anything to my friends in Georgia to mislead them about how radical and socialist” his agenda is.
Recent polls have found Mr. Perdue and Mr. Ossoff in a dead heat. If neither candidate hits 50 percent of the vote, they will compete in a runoff election in January.
Mr. Ossoff — echoing a national Democratic strategy of focusing on health care — went on to criticize Mr. Perdue for voting repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act and attempting to gut Obama-era safeguards for patients with pre-existing conditions.
Mr. Perdue pointed to legislation he co-sponsored that he claimed offered “protection for pre-existing conditions.”
The senator’s bill, which went nowhere, does say that insurance companies can’t deny coverage based on “any pre-existing condition,” but it contains a major loophole, giving insurers the option of rejecting a patient if a provider does “not have the capacity to deliver services adequately.”
Georgia’s other Senate race is also close, though the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat and pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has led in recent polls. He faces Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican who was appointed to her seat; Representative Doug Collins, another Republican; and several other candidates. That race will almost certainly result in a runoff.
A growing cadre of public health experts is coalescing around Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s call for a “national mask mandate,” even as they concede such an effort would require much more than the stroke of a presidential pen.
Over the past week, a string of prominent public health experts — notably Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of food and drugs under President Trump — have said that it is time to seriously consider a national mandate to curb the spread of the virus.
Overseas, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia this week became the latest foreign leader to impose a national mandate for citizens to wear masks. Mr. Trump is opposed to a mandate, and has been known to mock mask wearing. Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, favors masks but has conceded that a presidential order for all Americans to wear masks would almost certainly face — and likely fall to — a legal challenge.
Mr. Biden has said that, as president, he would require masks on all federal property, an executive order that could have wide reach. He could use his authority under federal transit law to require masks on public transportation. He could also prod governors who are resisting mask mandates to at least require masks in public buildings in their states.
Mr. Trump has turned the act of wearing a mask — or not wearing one — into a political statement. Public health and legal experts say it would be far better for Mr. Biden — or Mr. Trump, for that matter — to use the bully pulpit to convince Americans that covering one’s face to protect against disease is a patriotic or civic-minded action.
Experts say the scientific evidence is growing that face masks can considerably reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses like the one that causes Covid-19.
As of last week, 33 states and the District of Columbia required mask-wearing in public, according to a list compiled by AARP. But in certain parts of the country, especially heavily Republican states, resistance is deep — even when cases are soaring.
A $265 million Trump administration campaign to “defeat despair” about the coronavirus was planned partly around the politically tinged theme that “helping the president will help the country,” according to documents released on Thursday by House investigators.
Administration officials envisioned a star-studded campaign to lift American spirits, but the lawmakers said they sought to exclude celebrities who had supported gay rights or same-sex marriage or who had not favored President Trump.
Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis released the records, declaring that “these documents include extremely troubling revelations.”
They accused Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, of “a cover-up to conceal the Trump administration’s misuse of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for partisan political purposes ahead of the upcoming election.”
The public relations effort — led in part by Michael R. Caputo, the former Health and Human Services official who went on medical leave after posting a rant on Facebook claiming that career government scientists were committing “sedition” to undermine the president — is now in shambles.
Celebrities picked to promote the campaign, including the actor Dennis Quaid, have pulled out. Mr. Azar ordered a review of whether the initiative served “important public health purposes.”
The new documents deal with a $15 million contract awarded to Atlas Research and indicate that government officials successfully urged the company to hire three little-known subcontractors with no obvious expertise to join the bigger campaign.
When Mark H. Chichester, the president of Atlas, tried to research those subcontractors, he discovered “small shops with little on them in the public domain,” according to documents the committee released.
One was a one-person operation run by a state-level Republican pollster, Mr. Chichester wrote. Another appeared to be “a small — perhaps one-man” operation.
A third was a owned by a Russian-born business associate of Caputo’s, Mr. Chichester said.
In a September meeting with one subcontractor, Mr. Caputo suggested “taglines” for the effort, some of which had a distinctly partisan tone, according to notes released by the lawmakers.
Mr. Caputo, a staunch Trump ally, said that theme “would appeal to his base in terms of wearing a mask, vaccine,” the notes state.
One of the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor also wrote on Facebook that he wanted to hang President Trump, Hillary Clinton, and other politicians from both parties, an F.B.I. agent said. The threats were reported in a new court filing in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
The agent wrote that Barry Croft, a Delaware truck driver who was one of 13 men charged earlier this month with plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, had indicated that he wanted to hang or hold a “people’s trial” against a wide range of politicians.
“I say we hang everything currently governing us, they’re all guilty,” Mr. Croft wrote in May, according to the F.B.I.
That month, Mr. Croft also posted a photo of Mr. Trump, according to the agent, with the message, “True colors shining through,” he wrote, and using an abbreviated obscenity for Mr. Trump, added, “wanna hang” him, too.
The agent said that a month later, Mr. Croft wrote, “I’m for hanging Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians. I believe the rest would enjoy the Constitutional Republic!!!”
Also in June, Mr. Croft indicated that the four most recent presidents — Mr. Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — should be hanged, the agent said.
The revelations were shared in an affidavit from Kristopher M. Long, an F.B.I. agent who last week persuaded a judge to give the agency access to a Facebook account they believed Mr. Croft ran. In the affidavit, Mr. Long said Facebook had removed Mr. Croft’s previous accounts at least twice, but that he created new ones and continued to message others about carrying out attacks and to post publicly about his desire that politicians die.
No lawyer is listed for Mr. Croft in court documents, and a lawyer who previously represented him would not comment.
Mr. Croft also apparently threatened other governors, Mr. Long wrote. In one post in May, Mr. Croft shared a picture of Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina and asked his followers, “This our guy?” According to the F.B.I., Mr. Croft also sent a Facebook message indicating that Mr. McMaster, a Republican, “may be first” and saying that he was going to Columbia, S.C., that Friday with a sword.
Mr. Long noted in the affidavit that a protest against coronavirus restrictions was scheduled around that time in South Carolina. Ms. Whitmer, the Michigan governor, had also faced large protests against her coronavirus measures.
Another F.B.I. agent said in court this month that the men who planned to attack Ms. Whitmer also discussed targeting Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, a Democrat, over his pandemic restrictions.
Michigan, with a fervent gun culture and a big divide between rural and urban areas, is viewed by some experts as fertile ground for anti-government groups, many of which style themselves as militias.
On Thursday, Dana Nessel, the Michigan attorney general, announced that she had charged two men who she said were members of a white supremacist organization with “unlawful posting of a message” and “gang membership” stemming from an incident in December. Ms. Nessel said the men had posted pictures of a house that they mistakenly thought was the home of a podcast host in an effort to intimidate him.
The morning after Hurricane Zeta’s forceful winds downed power lines, toppled trees and caused road closures across the state of Georgia, widespread outages left more than 600,000 Georgians without electricity and took some of the state’s advanced voting locations offline Thursday — the penultimate day for early, in-person voting.
Georgia, once a reliably red state, is a battleground between Democrats and Republicans in this year’s presidential and U.S. senate races.
The final two days are among the busiest during Georgia’s early voting period, and voters faced delays Thursday morning as 15 of the state’s 159 counties opened polling sites late because of the storm, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said.
Locations with generators would have been able to open earlier despite losing electricity, Mr. Raffensperger said.
West of Atlanta, in Douglas County, all six early voting locations lost power as a result of the storm, while in neighboring Cobb County, four of the 11 advanced voting locations were closed. Wait times at three of Cobb County’s remaining open sites ranged from 60 to 90 minutes early Thursday afternoon. Voters in Gwinnett County, east of Atlanta, faced waits ranging from 10 minutes to nearly one hour.
Wait times reportedly remained under 30 minutes in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, although five early voting locations were temporarily without power as of midday Thursday. Voters encountered similar wait times in nearby DeKalb County, although only one polling place was affected by a power outage, according to the county.
Mr. Raffensperger said he anticipated counties that delayed opening Thursday morning would likely extend their hours into the evening to help voters make up for lost time.
As of Wednesday, more than 2.3 million Georgians had voted in-person during the three-week early voting period that began earlier this month. And more than 1.1 million absentee ballots had been returned, according to the Secretary of State’s office. With turnout in Georgia up nearly 80 percent from 2016, Mr. Raffensperger said Wednesday in an interview with ABC News that he predicts as many as 6 million votes could be cast in total.
President Trump’s dismissive and disrespectful treatment of his nominal political ally Senator Martha McSally in Arizona on Wednesday was cast by local media as a humiliating coda to her difficult campaign.
But it said just as much about Mr. Trump’s own stumble down the stretch, exacerbated by an unwillingness to take even the most basic steps to improve his shaky standing among women voters.
All Mr. Trump had to do in Goodyear, Ariz., was introduce Ms. McSally, a fellow Republican, and smile when she offered a unity pitch. No go.
After starting by saying she was “respected by everybody,” he instantly proved that she was not. “Martha, come up just fast! Fast! Fast! Come on. Quick! You got one minute!” he shouted, as some, but not all, in the crowd laughed. “One minute, Martha! They don’t want to hear this, Martha. Come on. Let’s go. Quick, quick, quick, quick. Come on. Let’s go.”
Ms. McSally ran on the stage, elbow-bumped the president, and professed herself “proud” of him, after declining to do so at a debate earlier this month. This might have been the reason he was so eager to see her come and go. (Ms. McSally wrote in an op-ed this week that she was supporting Mr. Trump’s re-election.)
Ms. McSally, a former fighter pilot appointed to her current seat, trails her Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, in polls, and she is underperforming Mr. Trump in Arizona. But Mr. Trump is also underperforming his 2016 self in a state he won by 3.5 points four years ago.
A big part of the reason, in the Sun Belt and elsewhere, is the defection of white suburban women, who have been driven away by a number of factors, particularly his failure to manage the coronavirus pandemic and the way that he speaks about women.
He did little to address either vulnerability on Wednesday.
“Biden and the Democrat socialists will delay the vaccine, prolong the pandemic, shutter your schools and shut down our country,” Trump told the audience, tightly packed and intermittently masked. “And your state is open right? Your state is nice and open.”
Then came the McSally moment.
The clip, which dominated local news coverage and social media, provided a brutal visual representation of Mr. Trump’s core political problem. Here he was physically rushing a suburban woman off the stage, and placing a strict time limit on her opportunity to speak — a limit he has never imposed on himself.
What happened next underscored the slight even more vividly. After Ms. McSally spoke, Mr. Trump invited three male out-of-state supporters — Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California and Senator Mike Lee of Utah — onstage for unrushed appearances that focused on their adulation of him.
Quinnipiac University released polls in four major swing states on Thursday, showing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading in Pennsylvania, narrowly ahead in Ohio, and effectively tied with President Trump in Florida and Iowa.
Mr. Biden was ahead of Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania by seven points, 51 percent to 44 percent, and in Ohio by five points, 48 percent to 43 percent.
His lead in Pennsylvania was outside the margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, while his lead in Ohio was just inside the margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
The Florida poll found Mr. Biden at 45 percent and Mr. Trump at 42 percent, while the Iowa poll found Mr. Trump at 47 percent and Mr. Biden at 46 percent. Neither of those margins is statistically meaningful.
Mr. Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania is the most significant takeaway from the Quinnipiac polls, because if he wins there and also takes Michigan and Wisconsin — where most surveys have shown him with comfortable leads — he can afford to lose Florida, Iowa and Ohio and still win the election.
Mr. Trump has been fighting hard in Pennsylvania, which looks to be his best shot at holding on to a slim Electoral College majority. Without Pennsylvania, it would be almost impossible for him to win re-election.
Friends, this isn’t the time to be complacent. If you are ready to fight for the soul of this nation, you can start by donating to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris by clicking the button below.
Thank you so much for supporting Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign.