The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Gray, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:19 PM ET, Thu October 8, 2020
23 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:36 p.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Biden campaign rejects Trump debate plan: "Trump's erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar"

From CNN’s Dan Merica and Sarah Mucha

Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images
Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images

The Biden campaign is swiftly rejecting the Trump campaign’s request to push both debates back a week, moving the town hall debate from Oct. 15 to Oct. 22 and the third and final debate from Oct. 22 to Oct. 29.

Biden spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said in response, “Donald Trump doesn't make the debate schedule; the Debate Commission does.”

She added: “We accepted the three dates — Sept. 29, Oct. 15, and Oct. 22 — in June. Trump chose today to pull out of the October 15th debate. Trump's erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing. We look forward to participating in the final debate, scheduled for October 22, which already is tied for the latest debate date in 40 years. Donald Trump can show up, or he can decline again. That's his choice." 

Ron Klain, one of Biden’s top advisers for the presidential debates, tweeted a similar message.

“The debate dates were set months ago by the Debate Commission, and locked in by the two campaigns. Just this morning, Donald Trump rejected the debate set for next week,” said Klain. “He doesn't get to set the calendar based on his ever changing whims.”

1:08 p.m. ET, October 8, 2020

McConnell says he hasn't been to the White House since the beginning of August

From CNN's Dominic Torres and Phil Mattingly

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believes President Trump's health is doing fine, but he has not been to the White House since the beginning of August.

He also added a vaccine will not be ready until next year and that he agrees with Democrats that there is a need for another "rescue package."

"I actually haven't been to the White House since August the 6 because my impression was their approach to how to handle this is different from mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing," he said. 

McConnell also briefly weighed in on the stimulus talks, only to underscore that significant differences remain. 

“We do agree that another rescue package is needed. We have vast differences about how much we should spend," he said.

As to the next presidential debate, McConnell said he had no observations beyond “there's going to be an election and both campaigns will do what's in their best interest.” 

12:47 p.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Trump campaign agrees on moving second debate back by a week

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins 

Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump's campaign manager issued a new statement today announcing they agree to a suggestion by Joe Biden's campaign to delay the second debate by a week so it can be in person.

"The [Commission on Presidential Debates] and the media cannot hide Joe Biden forever. Americans deserve to hear directly from both presidential candidates on these dates, October 22 and 29," Bill Stepien said in a statement. 

Earlier today, Trump said that he will not participate in the second presidential debate with Biden after the Commission on Presidential Debates said the event will be held virtually in the wake of the President's positive coronavirus diagnosis.

"I am not going to do a virtual debate," Trump said on Fox Business. "I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate."

12:00 p.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Biden "will find an appropriate place" to take questions from voters on Oct. 15, campaign says 

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks while campaigning in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on October 2.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks while campaigning in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on October 2. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden campaign is saying that because President Trump expressed that he will not participate in a virtual presidential debate next week, Joe Biden "will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on Oct. 15th, as he has done on several occasions in recent weeks." 

Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield urged the Debate Commission in a statement to move the town hall-style debate scheduled for Oct. 15 to Oct. 22 "so that the President is not able to evade accountability."

On Fox Business this morning, Trump said "I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate."

10:47 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Trump talked about his health, the election and the debates in an interview today. Here are the highlights.

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

President Donald Trump removes his mask upon returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5.
President Donald Trump removes his mask upon returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5. Win McNamee/Getty Images

It’s been less than a week since President Trump announced he tested positive for Covid-19. He returned from Walter Reed Medical Center this week on Monday. Unsatisfied with the temporary office space erected for him in the White House residence, where he was isolating, Trump returned to the Oval Office Wednesday.

And this morning, the President gave a 56-minute interview to Fox Business. Here are the highlights from the phone interview:

The President said he will not participate in a virtual debate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the second debate between President Trump and Joe Biden will be held virtually. But Trump said he won't appear.

“I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about,” he told Fox in an interview, calling it “ridiculous.” He lamented that the commission “didn’t even tell us about it” and that it is “trying to protect Joe Biden.”

Trump complained that he would have to “sit behind a computer” in a virtual debate and the moderator could “cut you off whenever they want.”

Trump said he doesn't believe he is contagious

"I don’t think I'm contagious, at all," he said less than a week after testing positive for coronavirus, adding that he is immune from another infection.

He attributed his recovery to being a "perfect physical specimen."

He said he’s ready to hold campaign rallies.

Less than a week after testing positive for coronavirus, he said he is ready to resume campaign rallies. He insisted he is, in fact, better than normal and is prepared to resume his campaign schedule.

"I think I’m better...to a point where I’d love to do a rally tonight. I wanted to do one last night," Trump said. "I feel perfect. There’s nothing wrong."

But then he said that he hasn't been tested for the virus.

It's unclear how the President is assessing that he is not contagious. When asked if he was recently tested, he said:

“No, I’ll be tested very soon, but I’m essentially very clean. They say it’s over a period of six, seven days,” he said. 

He called his illness "almost a gift from heaven."

Trump again praised the drugs he received at Walter Reed but said he couldn't have avoided contracting coronavirus.

"No matter how good the security you're not going to protect yourself from this thing," he said, adding later: "You catch this thing. It's particles of dust." The virus is not "particles of dust."

Some context to keep in mind: For Trump to not be contagious, it needs to have been at least 10 days, at a bare minimum, since Trump's first symptoms and 24 hours fever-free without taking medication that could reduce his fever. Trump should still be isolating, not campaigning. While he may have some degree of protection, no one can say for certain whether he is immune.  

11:12 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

How undecided voters reacted to last night's debate

Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris faced off in their only debate of the 2020 election campaign Wednesday night in Utah.

CNN's Randi Kaye spoke to some undecided voters earlier today to get their reaction to the debate.

Watch the conversation below:

If you missed the debate, you can watch the highlights here.

10:25 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

The commission was unanimous in decision to hold second debate virtually

From CNN's Dan Merica and Kevin Bohn

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates was unanimous in their decision to hold the second debate next week between President Trump and Joe Biden virtually, two members of the commission tell CNN.

Commission members met on Wednesday to discuss the proposal, where every member present (one person was absent) voted to hold the debate virtually, the members said.

The commission is made up of three co-chairs and ten members of the board of directors.

Following the announcement this morning, Trump said he would not participate in the debate.

"I am not going to do a virtual debate," Trump said on Fox Business. "I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate."

Biden's campaign on Thursday swiftly agreed to the virtual format. 

10:07 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Here are some of the words Americans looked up during the vice presidential debate

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Getty Images
Getty Images

As Vice President Mike Pence took the stage to debate Sen. Kamala Harris last night, a set of terms emerged as Americans looked up definitions during the event.

Those include pro-life, fascism, white supremacist and ineptitude, a term Harris used to describe the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic.

And for the first time in, ever, the dictionary said the word "fly," was also trending. (Here's what that means, in case anyone's wondering.) Look ups for the word spiked 3,800% on Wednesday, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Here are some other of the most commonly searched terms:

Fracking

This word's lookups spiked a staggering 55,000% during the vice presidential debate, the dictionary said. It began trending after Pence claimed former Vice President Joe Biden planned to ban fracking.

It's defined as "the injection of fluid into shale beds at high pressure in order to free up petroleum resources (such as oil or natural gas)," according to the dictionary. It comes from the words hydraulic and fracturing.

"Hydraulic fracturing is a technique in which a liquid is injected under high pressure into a well in order to create tiny fissures in the rock deep beneath the earth which then allow gas and oil to flow into the well," the dictionary says.

The practice, forcefully opposed by environmental activists, has led to a drilling boom in the US. But Pence's point is misleading. Biden isn't running on a proposal to completely ban fracking but he has in the past suggested he was proposing to get rid of all fracking. You can read our fact check here.

Existential

According to the dictionary, searches for the word spiked 8,000% after Harris warned of the existential threat that climate change poses.

The term means "of, relating to, or affirming existence," according to the website. It can also be used to mean "grounded in existence or the experience of existence," the dictionary said.

Smarmy

Why was this trending? It could have something to do with a Twitter mention.

Former Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol wrote a Tweet referring to "Pence's cloying smarminess." And the term just took off, with lookups spiking 5,000% Wednesday, according to the dictionary.

The dictionary offers two definitions: "revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, or false earnestness," and "of low sleazy taste or quality."

10:25 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Kennedy and Nixon debated with 3,000 miles between them in 1960

In a studio at ABC television in New York, Sen. John F. Kennedy listens to Vice President Richard M. Nixon who was in a studio in Los Angles on October 13, 1960.
In a studio at ABC television in New York, Sen. John F. Kennedy listens to Vice President Richard M. Nixon who was in a studio in Los Angles on October 13, 1960. Paul Schutzer/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates this morning announced that next week's debate will be virtual. President Trump has said he won't participate, saying that a virtual event is "not what debating is all about."

But this wouldn't be the first time presidential candidates debated from different locations.

The third debate between then Sen. John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960 was held via remote link, according to CSPAN.

Nixon was in Los Angeles and Kennedy was in New York for the event.

"The two candidates will not be sharing the same platform," moderator Bill Shadel said at the top of the debate. "In New York, the Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kennedy. Separated by 3,000 miles, in a Los Angeles studio, the Republican presidential nominee Vice President Richard M. Nixon."