The latest on the 2020 election

By Veronica Rocha, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 7:58 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020
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6:08 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Trump baselessly claims "we're going to quickly end this pandemic"

From CNN's Jason Hoffmamn

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at The Villages Polo Club on October 23 in The Villages, Florida.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at The Villages Polo Club on October 23 in The Villages, Florida. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump continues to project an optimistic tone about the coronavirus, a tone that is out of touch with reality as cases surge throughout the country.

“We're going to quickly end this pandemic, this horrible plague that came in from China,” Trump said at a rally at The Villages in Florida on Friday. “Normal life will fully resume. We had the greatest economy in our history and next year will be the greatest economic year in the history of our country.”

Earlier in the rally, Trump criticized Joe Biden for only wanting to talk about coronavirus and again claimed the US is “rounding the turn.”

“You look at what is going on and we're rounding the turn, we're rounding the corner. We're rounding the corner beautifully,” Trump said.

Some context: On Thursday, there were more than 71,000 new coronavirus cases in the US, the worst day since the summer.

Trump has attempted to project an optimistic tone on the pandemic since it first began.

Since February, he has said that the virus will simply disappear at least 38 times, though his “rounding the turn” rhetoric is slightly different from that.

5:16 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Trump confirms that he is voting in Florida this weekend

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

President Trump confirmed at a rally on Friday that he will be voting in Florida this weekend.

“I’m voting early tomorrow in Florida. Can you believe it? I’m coming to vote,” Trump said at a rally in The Villages, Florida. “I came down here to vote.”

Trump added: "I actually came here to see The Villages and tomorrow morning I’m voting here, as opposed to sending it in, you know, as a mail-in. I like being able to vote. I’m old fashioned, I guess. I like to get on-line and if I have to stand there for two hours, maybe they’ll move (me) up a little bit. But I like to vote."

4:53 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

New Trump campaign ad slams Biden's position on fossil fuels and fracking

From CNN's DJ Judd

The Trump campaign is out with yet another ad hitting Joe Biden’s position on fossil fuels and fracking.

The ad, airing in Pennsylvania, features Biden saying “No new fracking,” along with a testimonial from Jennifer, a fracking technician.

Biden attempted to clarify remarks following last night’s debate, saying he’d phase out fossil fuels.

“Eventually we're going to have to go to oil, but we're not getting rid of fossil fuels. We're getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels, but we're not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time. It will not be gone for ... probably 2050,” he told reporters before his departure from Nashville.

According to the Trump campaign, the ad will "air in Pennsylvania and as a part of the $55 million in combined spending between the Republican National Committee and the Trump Campaign in the closing weeks of the election.”

4:02 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Biden says coronavirus vaccine "has to be free to everyone, whether or not you're insured"

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Joe Biden speaks on Friday, October 23 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Joe Biden speaks on Friday, October 23 in Wilmington, Delaware. Andrew Harnik/AP

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that if a coronavirus vaccine is developed, it should be provided free to all Americans, whether or not they have health insurance. 

“Once we have a safe and effective vaccine, it has to be free to everyone, whether or not you’re insured,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. 

Biden criticized President Trump and Republicans’ efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and said that “overturning the ACA would mean people would have to pay to get Covid-19 vaccine. That’s wrong.” The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on the future of the ACA on Nov. 10.

Biden said if he is elected president, he would direct the federal government to “bulk-purchase as many doses as necessary of the Covid-19 vaccine so we can provide it free to those who are uninsured, underinsured or Medicaid-eligible.”

He noted that despite what Trump has promised, it will still be “many months before any vaccine is widely available.” He said that the United States needs a president “who will take responsibility for making sure it gets to every single person in this country in a way that's equitable and accountable.”

Watch the moment:

3:43 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Biden says Trump "quit on America" with his mishandling of coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday lambasted President Trump for his administration's mishandling of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, as the United States surpassed 223,000 deaths from the virus. 

“We're more than eight months into this crisis, and the President still doesn't have a plan. He's given up. He's quit on you. He's quit on your family. He's quit on America,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “He just wants us to grow numb and resign to the horrors of this death toll and the pain it's causing so many Americans.”

Biden said Trump “can't erase his own words or deeds.” He pointed to the reporting by journalist Bob Woodward that shows Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous and repeatedly played it down publicly. 

“Covid-19 dwarfs anything we've faced in recent history and isn't showing any signs of slowing down,” Biden said. “The virus is surging in almost every state.” 

Biden on Thursday during the presidential debate accused Trump of denying responsibility for the virus’ spread in the United States, and predicted that a “dark winter” is coming.


3:08 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

We asked viewers for their reaction to last night's debate. Here's what they said.

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, the stakes at Thursday night's debate could not have been higher. President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off in a more cordial debate, discussing a range of issues from the coronavirus pandemic to health care and the economy.

Here's what some of our viewers around the country thought about the debate:

Michael, Columbus, Ohio

"I know what Trump is going to do. As for Biden, he is all over the place on what he is going to do, he says one thing, then denies he said it. He pretty much put his foot in him mouth last night. Besides I can't vote for anyone that tells the American people that we don't deserve to know what he is doing with the courts. Trump isn't perfect but he does get things done and he will get my vote."

Abigail DiMatteo, Stamford, Connecticut

"I thought Trump was an EMBARRASSMENT when he said that only those with the 'lowest IQ's' show up back to court when seeking asylum. How absolutely disgusting and ignorant to say of people who fought for better lives for themselves and their families. Trump was disrespectful, outright lied multiple times, and just a nightmare to watch. I screamed at my phone. Cried once."

Deb Bergeson-Graham, Greendale, Wisconsin

"I thought the debate was dull and somewhat boring. I didn't hear anything particularly new ... just a lot of the same old lies from the incumbent. I did think the answer to the last question would have been enough. T didn't answer it. Biden did and very well."

Jaye King, Antioch, Tennessee

"The part about the kids was so cruel, how can DT sleep at night. It's a shame these men DT, Jeff Sessions & ... [Rosenstein] separated the kids from their parents, imagine how they would feel if someone 'took' their kids from them — total barbaric behavior and no compassion or shame!"

Liam, Indiana

"Trump won. He needed to stay calm and presidential. He accomplished both goals!"

Keep reading here.

2:33 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

More than 55 million people watched last night's debate, down about 11% from first debate

From CNN’s Brian Stelter

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More than 55 million people watched Thursday night's debate, according to preliminary Nielsen TV ratings.

The debate between President Trump and Joe Biden averaged 55.2 million viewers across the six biggest broadcast and cable channels on American television.

For comparison's sake, 62 million people watched the first Trump-Biden debate on those same six channels, which means the second and final debate of the season was down just about 11% from the first.

Frequently the first debate of an election cycle is the most-watched, so this year's results follow a familiar pattern. Thursday's high ratings reflect intense interest in the election.

These numbers are preliminary. The official total, to be released by Nielsen later in the day on Friday, will be even higher because it will count additional channels.

The finalized total for the first debate of the season was 73.1 million.

The Nielsen ratings only include Americans who watched on television sets. An unknown number of people live-streamed the debate on various devices, listened on the radio, or watched in other ways.

2:34 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

McConnell moves to shut down debate on Barrett nomination, setting up final vote just days before election

From CNN's Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Alex Rogers

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, brushing aside Democratic concerns over the expedited timeframe for confirming President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, moved on Friday to cut off debate and set up a final confirmation vote eight days before the election.

McConnell's move sets up a Sunday afternoon procedural vote to break a Democratic filibuster and then a final confirmation vote, likely on Monday evening.

All Democrats are expected to vote against the nomination and two Republicans — Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins — are expected to vote against the nomination as well due to their concerns that it's too close to the election to consider a nominee. 

But Republicans have enough votes to get Barrett confirmed. 

Some background: On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the nomination of Barrett to the Supreme Court. Though the vote was 12-0, the 10 Democratic senators on the panel boycotted the vote, and filled their seats with pictures of people who rely upon the Affordable Care Act, drawing attention to an upcoming case on the health care law's constitutionality.

Barrett, 48, will give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, influencing a range of issues that could come before it, including Americans' personal privacy rights, campaign finance regulation, affirmative action in higher education, public aid for religious schools, environmental and labor regulations, the ACA and any potential disputes regarding the 2020 election.

If Barrett is confirmed and serves as long as her predecessor, the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she will sit on the court for nearly four decades.

1:59 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules ballots can't be thrown out for mismatched signatures

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided unanimously that county elections officials can’t throw out absentee ballots with signatures that they deem don’t match versions on file.

The ruling is among a few remaining legal challenges over voter practices in the battleground state.

As with the ruling Friday, Republicans have lost several bids to make vote by mail practices in Pennsylvania stricter.

Here's what the court ruled:

“We conclude that the Election Code does not authorize or require county election boards to reject absentee or mail-in ballots during the canvassing process based on an analysis of a voter’s signature on the ‘declaration’ contained on the official ballot return envelope for the absentee or mail-in ballot. We, therefore, grant the Secretary’s petition for declarative relief, and direct the county boards of elections not to reject absentee or mail-in ballots for counting, computing, and tallying based on signature comparisons conducted by county election officials or employees, or as the result of third- party challenges based on such comparisons.”