The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 8:33 p.m. ET, October 21, 2020
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9:56 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

"High probability" Trump will release 60 Minutes interview before it airs Sunday, White House says 

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal, Kaitlan Collins and Khalil Abdallah

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said there is a “high probability” that President Trump will release an interview he did with 60 Minutes before it airs Sunday, and accused journalist Lesley Stahl of acting “more like an opinion journalist.

“He didn't walk out,” Meadows told Fox Business on Wednesday. “I mean, the characterization of that – he spent over 45 minutes with Lesley Stahl. I've looked at every single minute of the interview and then some. We have tape of every single minute.”

“Listen,” he continued, “when you have a 60 Minutes reporter, they should be a reporter not an opinion journalist. And she came across more like an opinion journalist.”

Asked if the President would release the video before it’s scheduled to air Sunday, as he threatened to do on Twitter, Meadows said “there's a high probability.”

Later during a press gaggle, CNN’s Joe Johns also asked Meadows what happened during the interview, to which Meadows responded, “you’ll get to see it.”

Some background: According to multiple sources familiar with what happened, Trump abruptly ended a solo interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes" Tuesday and did not return for an appearance he was supposed to tape with Vice President Mike Pence.

After camera crews set up at the White House on Monday, Trump sat down with host Lesley Stahl for about 45 minutes on Tuesday before he abruptly ended the interview and told the network he believed they had enough material to use, according to two sources.

Trump walked out of the interview because he was frustrated with Stahl's line of questioning, one source said. Another person said the bulk of the interview was focused on coronavirus.


8:58 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

Election 101 podcast: Who should get your vote? 

This election isn’t just about the race for the White House. For a lot of us, the issues we care most about, are handled at the local level and that’s why it’s important to understand who’s running and what they stand for.

This week, CNN's Kristen Holmes talks with ProPublica's Jessica Huseman about who else is on your ballot and why they matter.

Listen to the latest Election 101 podcast episode here.

8:47 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

Biden calls new mic rule for debates a "good idea"

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Tuesday that he thinks the new rule instituted for Thursday's debate — the plan to mute an opposing candidate’s microphone while the other candidate speaks — is a good idea, saying that it should go even further. 

"I think it’s a good idea," Biden told CNN Milwaukee affiliate WISN. "I think there should be more limitations on us not interrupting one another." 

Biden said he will come to the debate ready to discuss issues that affect the American people and he hopes President Trump will do the same.

But he noted that the President seems to be signaling that "all gonna be about personal attacks."

"But I’m going to try very hard to focus on the issues that affect the American people and talk to them and I hope they keep the rule – that uninterrupted two minutes," Biden said. 

8:46 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

How six first-time voters view this election

From CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet

Carlos Garcia feared this moment would never come.

And Justine Okello is feeling emotional about his chance to do something so many people around the world can't: vote.

More immigrants who've become US citizens like them are eligible to vote in 2020 than ever before. And Georgia — a battleground state in this election — is where this group is growing the fastest, according to the Pew Research Center.

CNN spoke this month with naturalized US citizens in Georgia as they prepared to cast ballots in a US presidential election for the first time.

They told us why voting matters to them, and what issues they're weighing as they head to the polls. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Some of these immigrant voters have candidates they support. Others are still considering the options. All of them are ready for you to hear what they have to say.

Read their stories here:

8:54 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

Road to 270: Here's Biden's shortest path to the White House

Analysis from CNN's Ronald Brownstein

Less than weeks before Election Day, Joe Biden appears well-positioned to finish the job that Democrats above all hired him to do: Rebuild the party's blue wall in the Rust Belt.

Biden's principal asset in the 2020 Democratic primaries was the widespread sense among party voters that he was best qualified among the contenders to win back the defecting White voters, especially those without college degrees, who allowed Donald Trump to capture Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2016 — and with them the presidency.

Now, a wide array of public polls consistently shows Biden leading in all three states, defending Minnesota (which Trump has targeted) and running almost step for step with the President in Ohio and Iowa, two Rust Belt states Trump won more easily last time.

With remarkable consistency across these states, polls show Biden benefiting from similar dynamics, as he attracts a solid majority of around 55% or more of college-educated White voters; a preponderant majority of around four-fifths of African Americans; and about two-fifths of Whites without college degrees, a number, that while modest, represents a clear improvement over Hillary Clinton's anemic showing with them in 2016.

If Biden holds all of the 20 states Clinton won in 2016 and regains Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, he will win — whether or not he captures any of his targets across the Sun Belt, or for that matter, Ohio or Iowa.

"He's settled in at a level that makes him formidable in terms of creating an Electoral College bloc that includes for sure Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, but also Minnesota, while competing readily for Ohio and Iowa," says veteran Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg. Unless Trump can reverse Biden's advantages in the key Rust Belt battlegrounds, Greenberg argues, the former vice president "has locked up the presidency. ... You have an impossible Electoral College advantage with the states he's ahead of in the Rust Belt."

Trump stunned Democrats in 2016 when he captured Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, despite trailing in the polls then too, behind an unexpected surge of turnout from his core group of non-college-educated Whites, especially those in small-town and rural communities.

Apart from Michigan, where Trump's relentless attacks on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during the coronavirus pandemic have weakened his position, few in either party rule out the possibility of Trump surprising again in the Rust Belt, even if polls are more favorable for Biden now than Clinton then.

Read the full analysis here.

Build your own road to 270 electoral votes with CNN's interactive map

8:37 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

Obama will campaign for Biden today in Philadelphia

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica

Former President Barack Obama is poised to return to the campaign trail on Wednesday, making his first in-person appearance in his effort to help Joe Biden in the waning days of his bid for the White House. He will deliver remarks in Philadelphia this afternoon.

If the election of Trump was a reaction to the Obama presidency, the November race offers another opportunity to take the country's measure of the men.

On the eve of his return to the campaign trail, Obama tweeted a video aimed at at young Americans.

The campaign stop by Obama is the first in a handful of visits to battleground states where voting is already underway, where Obama will try and rally support for Biden, particularly trying to boost enthusiasm among Black men, Latinos and younger voters.

"He doesn't view it as a personal grudge match with Trump," said David Axelrod, a longtime adviser to Obama and a CNN contributor. "He views it as an existential matter for the country and for democracy."

It's been 20 years since Obama lost an election — at least one with his name on the ballot.

Yet his record is far less successful when he is not a candidate himself, a point illustrated most recently in 2016, when he campaigned aggressively for Hillary Clinton and in 2010 and 2014, when he suffered the same fate most sitting presidents do when their party endures a midterm-election drubbing.

Obama's appearance in Philadelphia, following a series of virtual campaign events for Biden throughout the summer, will once again test the power of his appeal and reveal whether his popularity is transferable — even to his friend and former partner in the White House.

"I trust him to be a great president," Obama said in a video message Tuesday night on Twitter. "He's different. He's on the right side of the issues. He'll get the job done."

Read more here

2:57 p.m. ET, October 21, 2020

Debate commission co-chair: Muting necessary after "disappointment" of first Trump-Biden debate

From CNN's From Keith Allen and Dan Merica

Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf appeared on the Situation Room Tuesday night and told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that muting non-speaking candidate’s microphones during portions of tomorrow's presidential debate is a necessary move after what took place during the first debate in Cleveland.

“There’s no question that the first debate was a disappointment for everybody, I think particularly for the American people,” Fahrenkopf said. “We as a commission knew we couldn’t change rules without the consent of both [campaigns] but saying to the candidates that what’s going to happen is when the moderator asks candidate number one to begin their two minutes to talk uninterrupted, the candidate’s mic will not be live. When those two minutes are up, it is then candidate B’s chance to talk.”

“We're not making a new rule, we’re just enforcing the rule that both candidates agreed to in the first place,” the debate co-chair added. 

Fahrenkopf also told Wolf that both candidates will be tested for Covid-19 prior to the debate in Nashville, and that their guests must wear masks throughout the event.

“The testing will be done, HCA, which has been designated to be the health group in Nashville, I think it’s Health Corporation of America, designated by the Cleveland Clinic, will be meeting with and working with the doctors for the White House and for former Vice President Biden,” Fahrenkopf told Blitzer. “In Cleveland, we had some of the first family remove their masks and not wear the masks, both candidates have now agreed, their campaigns, that everyone will leave their masks on for the whole — if the first family is there, I’m not sure at this point in time — and will not take their masks off.”

More on the debate: Biden and Trump will have their microphones muted during portions of the second and final presidential debate on Thursday night.

The decision came after the commission met Monday afternoon to discuss potential rule changes to the debate format. They decided that the changes were needed because of how the first debate between Biden and Trump devolved into chaos, with the President frequently interrupting the former vice president.

The muting will work like this: At the start of each of the six segments of the debate, each candidate will be given two minutes to answer an initial question. During that portion, the opposing candidate's microphone will be muted.

"Under the agreed upon debate rules, each candidate is to have two minutes of uninterrupted time to make remarks at the beginning of each 15 minute segment of the debate. These remarks are to be followed by a period of open discussion," the commission said in a statement. "Both campaigns this week again reaffirmed their agreement to the two-minute, uninterrupted rule."