Kamis, 29 Oktober 2020

US election campaign live: Record GDP growth number boosts Donald Trump in closing days -

The election is just five days away now, and more than 79 million Americans have already voted.

President Donald Trump has received a late boost in the form of some record economic numbers.

According to the Commerce Department, America’s gross domestic product grew by 7.4 per cent in the third quarter, by the far the biggest number since reliable records started to be taken in the aftermath of World War II.

It’s not all good news. The economy remains 3.5 per cent smaller than it was at the end of last year, before the pandemic wrecked it. But after a 9 per cent fall in GDP in the second quarter, today’s figures represent a welcome sign that businesses are rebounding.

Mr Trump hailed it as the “biggest and best” result in US history, and promised Americans next year would be “fantastic”.

“So glad this great GDP number came out before November 3,” he said, adding that Joe Biden would “kill it all” with tax increases.

The two candidates were both heading to the crucial swing state Florida today.

“Right here in Florida, it’s up to you. You hold the key. If Florida goes blue, it’s over. It’s over,” Mr Biden told Floridians.

The President spent a chunk of his rally in Tampa going after Miles Taylor, the former administration official who yesterday outed himself as Anonymous.

“This is a disgrace to our country. It shouldn’t have happened. And he should be prosecuted. Are you listening to me back in Washington? He should be prosecuted, along with The New York Times, because it was a story made up, it was fake news,” Mr Trump said.

The Times’ offence here is to have published an opinion piece by Mr Taylor in 2018, granting him anonymity and describing him (dubiously) as a senior Trump administration official.

“Bad things are going to happen to him,” Mr Trump said of Mr Taylor.

“Think of what he does to our government. It’s like a horrible, treasonous, horrible thing that you can do this and you can get away with it.”

Read on for all the latest news from the campaign.

Live Updates

Donald and Melania Trump have replaced their North Carolina rally, which has been postponed due to the weather, with a quiet trip to Fort Bragg to meet with members of the US military.

President Trump scheduled to hold another rally this evening, in North Carolina, but it has now been postponed due to bad weather.

“Because of a wind advisory issued with gusts reaching 50 miles per hour and other weather conditions, the outdoor Fayetteville, North Carolina, rally has been postponed until Monday,” the Trump campaign says.

A relatively quiet night is looming for Mr Trump, then.

The crowd of Trump supporters in Tampa loved seeing the President and First Lady Melania Trump on stage together today.

It was the first time that had happened in this year's campaign.

Joe Biden's speech in Florida was very much aimed at convincing hesitant Democatic-leaning voters to go the polls.

Early voting figures in the state show registered Republicans and registered Democrats are close to even. The Biden campaign is a little worried about that, as the early vote generally favours Democrats.

"This election is the most important one you've ever voted in, whether it's your first or tenth," Mr Biden said, repeating a line I have heard literally every presidential candidate say in literally every election I have ever witnessed.

"The heart and soul of this country is at stake. Right here in Florida, it's up to you. You hold the key. If Florida goes blue, it's over. It's over."

He's probably, though not definitely, correct about that. Florida is close to a must-win state for the President, whereas Mr Biden still has a pretty viable path to victory without it.

Joe Biden has also done his first rally in Florida, and I'll bring you the highlights from that in a moment, but first just bask in this truly strange piece of criticism from the Trump campaign's senior legal adviser.

Yep, of all the things Mr Biden could be criticised for, we're going with the fact that he … thanked people for taking steps to protect each other's health in the middle of a pandemic that is still killing almost a thousand Americans a day.

Ms Ellis appears to be saying Mr Biden was trying to scare people?

Goodness me 2020 is wild.

Donald Trump started his rally in Tampa, Florida by talking about the coronavirus. He pointed out, correctly, that Europe is in big trouble at the moment.

"They're not doing well. They're spiking up big, they're shutting down, they're locking down. I disagree with that, because we're never going to lock down again," Mr Trump said.

"We locked down, we understood the disease, and now we're open for business. And that's what it is."

There were about 81,000 new cases in the US yesterday, and its seven-day average of infections has never been higher.

The speech included an extended attack on Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security who yesterday outed himself as Anonymous.

"You know what, there should be major criminal liability for some scum like this," Mr Trump said.

"It turns out to be this lowlife that no one really knows who he is. He had nothing to do with us. I don't think I ever met him. I might have met him."

The President did in fact interact Mr Taylor during his time in the administration, for what it's worth. There are photos from their meetings.

"This is a disgrace to our country. It shouldn't have happened. And he should be prosecuted. Are you listening to me back in Washington? He should be prosecuted, along with The New York Times, because it was a story made up, it was fake news."

The Times' offence here is to have published an opinion piece by Mr Taylor in 2018, granting him anonymity and describing him (dubiously) as a senior Trump administration official.

"And you know who he works for now? CNN. He works for CNN, right there. See the camera right there? With the light that just went off," Mr Trump said.

This is one of those frequent, pointless fibs the President tells at his rallies. He often claims the media stops filming him when he's saying something they don't like. This is nonsense – the cameras film everything, even if their network is not carrying the rally live.

But hey, it gets a few boos from the crowd.

"Bad things are going to happen to him," he said of Mr Taylor.

"Think of what he does to our government. It's like a horrible, treasonous, horrible thing that you can do this and you can get away with it."

Mr Trump likes to throw the word "treason" around when he's describing his critics, particularly from within the administration. That word does not mean what he thinks it means.

I should also note that neither Mr Taylor nor The Times have committed any crimes, and there is no suggestion either of them will actually be prosecuted.

Here's a photo of Mr Trump and Mr Taylor, in less acrimonious times.

We just got another batch of swing state polls, this time from Quinnipiac University.

They show Joe Biden leading Donald Trump 45 per cent to 42 in Florida, 51-44 in Pennsylvania and 48-43 in Ohio, while Mr Trump leads 47-46 in Iowa.

I'm struck by a couple of things here.

First, the two candidates are well below 50 per cent in three of the four states, meaning there is still room for a late swing towards someone to prove decisive, according to Quinnipiac.

Second, what the heck is that Ohio number? Ohio has consistently been the President's best swing state – some experts think Mr Biden is more likely to win Texas – and Mr Trump is ahead in the current polling average there.

Maybe this one is an outlier.

As he holds a couple of rallies in Florida today, President Trump is being joined by First Lady Melania Trump.

"In a time when hate, negativity and fear are the messages the media streams into our homes, the large tech companies are protecting political censorship, we need to remember what is really important – my husband's administration is focused on the future," Mrs Trump told a jam-packed crowd in Tampa just now.

"This President and his team are focused on not only destroying the virus and building back the economy, they are focused on creating ways for people to safely stop isolating and safely start gathering with friends again (from) safe distances."

You can see the size and enthusiasm of the crowd here, though the whole "safe distance" thing she mentioned isn't happening.

"Under Donald's leadership, we have blocked out the noise and focused on you, the American people," Mrs Trump continued.

She said the US was "a country of hope" rather than "fear and weakness".

According to the latest data from the US Elections Project, 79.7 million people have already voted early, either in person or by mail. That is well over half of the total turnout from 2016, when a tick under 130 million Americans cast ballots.

The man behind the Elections Project, University of Florida Professor Michael McDonald, has predicted this year’s final tally could reach 150 million. If that does happen, it will be the highest turnout for a presidential election since 1908, more than a century ago, with about 63 per cent of the voting-eligible population taking part.

Donald Trump has just had a wee vent about yesterday's Supreme Court decision regarding Pennsylvania.

I'll spare you the legal arguments. Just know the result of that decision is that this particular swing state will accept and count mail-in ballots if they arrive by 5pm on November 6 – three days after the election – as long as they are postmarked by election day.

The part Republicans really don't like is that a ballot won't be thrown out if its postmark is illegible.

Mr Trump has spent recent days suggesting there's something improper about election officials continuing to count votes in the days and weeks after election night. In truth, that is entirely routine and it happens in every presidential election.

Officials have until December 8 to complete the count in their state and certify the results.

The President's motive here is pretty obvious – the mail vote tends to favour the Democrats by a significant margin, while the in-person vote on election day favours the Republicans.

So, Mr Trump is portraying the type of vote which is going to favour his opponent as illegitimate.

I should note that the Supreme Court split 5-3 on this, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump-appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh siding with the court's progressive wing.

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2020-10-29 16:52:50Z

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