The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 10:05 PM ET, Wed September 30, 2020
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9:15 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Here's how Kamala Harris reacted to Trump and Biden's chaotic debate

From CNN's Maureen Chowdry and Melissa Mahtani


Less than an hour after the first debate had wrapped up, Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris joined CNN's Jake Tapper with her reaction to the night's event.

She blasted President Trump for not condemning white supremacists when given the opportunity to do so, accusing him of "dog whistling through a bull horn," but Harris also said "the American people benefited from a very clear contrast" between the two men.

Harris went on to say that the President has created policies that would end training against racial bias and contrasted the stark difference between Biden and Trump.

"On the one hand, Donald Trump continuously, throughout his campaign for president, throughout his presidency, spending full-time trying to sow hate and division, trying to get the American people to turn on each other. On the other hand, a Joe Biden who speaks with a calm voice, respecting the dignity of all people, recognizing the kind of division that has taken place in our country because of Donald Trump and there with a genuine, genuine goal of unifying our country once, God-willing, he wins this election," the California senator said.

Asked whether Biden should participate in a second or third debate following the chaos of the evening, Harris replied:

"Joe Biden is never going to refuse to talk to the American people and have any opportunity to stand and speak directly to American families and speak about the issues, speak the truth, and address the facts of where we are now, but also address the hopes and dreams of the American family in terms of where we can be, and Joe's got a plan for dealing with those hopes and aspirations as well."

Watch the full interview below:

9:22 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

What Trump and Biden said about SCOTUS during the debate

From CNN's Eric Bradner and Kevin Liptak

Getty Images
Getty Images

The dominant issue on Capitol Hill right now is Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

But while the debate opened with questions about the high court, the details were largely lost amid the chaos, as Trump interrupted Biden's answers and Wallace struggled to rein in a debate that was devolving into disarray from its opening moments.

Biden attempted to turn the discussion into one over health care, pointing to the potential for a Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority to overturn the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for those with preexisting conditions, and undo Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that legalized abortion nationally.

Trump tried to pin Biden down on progressive proposals to end the Senate's filibuster and expand the Supreme Court. "Why wouldn't you answer that question?" Trump said.

None of those substantive differences really broke through, though, as Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden and the moderator and the two candidates talked over each other.

Barrett is expected to continue meeting with senators this week.

9:25 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Trump official says President wants White supremacists "to get out of the way" after Trump refused to condemn

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt


Trump campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley this morning was pressed on why President Trump refused to condemn White supremacists during the first presidential debate.

“He wants them to get out of the way. He wants them to not do the things they say they want to do. This is a reprehensible group,” Gidley said.

“New Day” anchor John Berman asked Gidley why Trump did not specifically condemn the Proud Boys, a far-right collective that the Southern Poverty Law Center says is a hate group.

“You went 10,000 times further than the President did last night on that debate stage. He said ‘stand back and stand by.’ He did not call them reprehensible. He had every opportunity to call the Proud Boys reprehensible last night,” Berman said in a tense exchange with Gidley. 

“When he was asked would he disavow them, would he condemn them, he said ‘sure’ three times,” Gidley responded, adding that the President has also spoken out against White supremacists multiple times in the past. “… He has also told militia groups to stand aside many times.” 


9:08 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Former GOP senator says Trump "made a huge mistake" when he refused to condemn White supremacists

From CNN's Aditi Sangal


President Trump last night refused to condemn White supremacists for inciting violence at anti-police brutality demonstrations across the United States, claiming instead during the presidential debate that violence was coming from "the left wing."

Former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum today said it was a “huge gaffe.” 

“That's sort of typical of the President, when he gets backed into a corner, he doesn't like to be forced to say something,” he said.

“He made a huge mistake,” Santorum said on CNN’s New Day, adding that he is “disappointed.”

The stunning moment came when moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was ready to condemn White supremacists and say they need to stand down during ongoing demonstrations across the country.

"Who would you like me to condemn?" Trump asked Wallace. 

Biden could be heard twice saying, "Proud Boys."

Trump continued: "Proud Boys — stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what. I'll tell you what. Somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem."

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris slammed President Trump for not condemning white supremacists during the debate.

"Dog whistling through a bull horn is what he's doing," Harris told CNN's Jake Tapper Tuesday.

Trump is “continuously, throughout his campaign for president, throughout his presidency, spending full-time trying to sow hate and division, trying to get the American people to turn on each other,” she added.

About the group: Members of the Proud Boys, a far-right collective that the Southern Poverty Law Center says is a hate group, have been seen in their black and yellow polo shirt uniform at multiple 2020 Trump campaign rallies. Founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, the group is known for its anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric and describes members as "Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world."

The group's site argues its allure stems from the fact that young American men and women are "finished" with "apology culture" but disavows links to the alt-right or to White supremacists. McInnes is suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for designating the organization a hate group.

The President's pointed refusal to denounce White supremacists and his mention of the group, specifically, drew immediate celebration from members of the Proud Boys. Images of an updated Proud Boys logo featuring the President's "stand by" remark in the group's signature yellow and black swiftly circulated online.

Watch more:

8:47 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Trump again casts doubt on whether he'll accept election result

From CNN's Eric Bradner and Kevin Liptak

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

While unleashing a barrage of misinformation and falsehoods about mail-in voting, Trump failed to affirm the one thing he was asked about it: whether he would encourage his supporters to be peaceful if election results are unclear.

"I'm encouraging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully," Trump said when asked what he would tell his followers in a post-Election Day world.

After issuing his usual falsehoods about widespread fraudulent voting — albeit in front of a newly massive audience and without an ounce of fact-checking from the moderator — Trump declared he wouldn't support a result under certain circumstances.

"If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that," Trump said.

It was an answer that will do little to calm fears of post-election chaos.

Remember: Just last week, Trump said he's not sure November's election will be "honest" because of the use of unsolicited ballots, extending his baseless assertion that widespread mail-in voting is rife with fraud and again casting doubt on if he will accept the results of the election.

For his part last night, Biden insisted that if Americans vote in large numbers — presumably for him — a contested election could be prevented.

CNN fact checks Trump's voter fraud claims:

8:30 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Trump unleashed an avalanche of lies at first presidential debate

From CNN's Daniel Dale and CNN staff

The first 2020 presidential debate Tuesday night in Cleveland featured an avalanche of lies from President Donald Trump — while Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was largely accurate in his statements, though he did make a few false or misleading claims.

There were times, particularly during the conclusion of the debate, when almost every comment from Trump was inaccurate. Most of his false claims were ones he's made before and which have been repeatedly fact-checked and found to be false, rather than one-time slips or gaffes.

Fox News's Chris Wallace moderated the debate, which covered both candidates' records as well as the Supreme Court vacancy, Covid-19, the economy, the recent racial justice protests across the country and questions about the integrity of the upcoming election.

Read below for more on what they said:

8:24 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Here's what CNN's post-debate poll found

From CNN's Jennifer Agiesta

Six in 10 debate watchers said former Vice President Joe Biden did the best job in Tuesday's debate, and just 28% say President Trump did, according a CNN Poll of debate watchers conducted by SSRS.

In interviews with the same voters conducted before the debate, 56% said they expected Biden to do the better job while 43% expected that Trump would.

The post-debate result is about the same as the outcome of a post-debate poll in 2016 after the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton. In that poll, 62% thought Clinton won the debate, 27% said Trump did.

About two-thirds said Biden's answers were more truthful than Trump's (65% Biden to 29% Trump), and his attacks on the President were more frequently seen as fair. Overall, 69% called Biden's attacks on Trump fair while just 32% said Trump's attacks were fair.

The survey is designed to be representative of those registered voters who watched Tuesday's debate, it does not represent the views of all Americans.

The voters who watched the debate were more partisan than Americans as a whole -- 36% identified as independents or non-partisans compared with around 40% in the general public, and the group of debate watchers was more Democratic than a typical survey of all adults, with 39% identifying as Democrats and 25% as Republicans.

Read the full poll results here

8:09 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Election 101 podcast: Does polling matter?

From CNN's Megan Marcus

In 2016, poll after poll predicted a Hillary Clinton victory, and voters constantly heard that she was "ahead in the polls."

But, what does that really mean? Why were the polls so far off? And if polls can be so wrong about who's going to win the election, why should we bother paying attention to them this time around?

In this episode of CNN Election 101 podcast, CNN's Kristen Holmes. talks with Courtney Kennedy from the Pew Research Center about lessons learned from 2016 and why there is real value in proper polling.

You can listen here.

8:24 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Trump and Biden faced off in their first debate last night. Catch up on the key moments.

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez, Eric Bradner and Kevin Liptak

Jim Watson & Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson & Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump turned his first debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden into a chaotic disaster.

Trump bullied, bulldozed and obfuscated his way through the 90-minute showdown, interrupting Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News at every turn. He ignored substantive questions and Biden's policy arguments, and instead swung at a straw-man version of Biden, taking aim at both Biden's son and a distorted description of his record that exists primarily in far-right media.

The debate was divided into six topics, but many Americans tuning in would have had a hard time finding any clarity about either man's positions, as the debate devolved into shouting, rancor and cross talk that at times made it impossible to follow what either man was talking about.

In case you missed tonight's debate, here are four key moments: 

Trump addresses the New York Times report on his taxes

The President offered a simple defense for the low amount of income taxes he’s paid over the years: “I don’t want to pay tax.” 

At the same time, however, Trump also insisted that he pays millions in taxes, contradicting the New York Times’ reporting, which indicated that he paid $750 in income taxes in 2016 and 2017. 

Different realities on the coronavirus

Biden, citing the staggering coronavirus death toll and case number in the US, said, “The President has no plan. He hasn’t laid out anything.”

Trump, however, insisted that Biden “could not have done the job we did.” 

The President also brought up his administration's plan to quickly distribute a coronavirus vaccine, but Biden questioned why Americans should trust someone who lies so frequently. 

“This is the same man who told you by Easter this would be gone away. By the warm weather, it’d be gone — like a miracle. And by the way, maybe you could inject some bleach into your arm," Biden said. 

Biden responds to Trump’s attacks on his son, Hunter

Reacting to Trump's repeated unfounded and false claims about Hunter Biden acting corruptly in Ukraine, the former vice president said, "This is not about my family or his family, this is about your family — the American people.” 

“He doesn't want to talk about what you need,” Biden added. 

At another point in the debate, Trump raised Hunter Biden's past issues with drug addiction. 

"My son had a drug problem, but he's overcome it and I'm proud of him,” Biden responded.

Trump refuses to condemn white supremacists

Trump refused to explicitly call out white supremacists for inciting violence at anti-police brutality demonstrations across the country, saying during the debate that the violence wasn’t an issue caused by the right and telling one far-right group to “stand back and stand by.”

“Sure, I’m willing to (tell them to stand down), but I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Trump said. 

Read more about last night's debate here.

Watch key moments: