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Senin, 26 Oktober 2020

US election LIVE updates: Amy Coney Barrett expected to be confirmed for Supreme Court as Donald Trump holds campaign rally in Pennsylvania - The Sydney Morning Herald

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Watch live: US Senate to vote on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

A bitterly divided US Senate is poised to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as the 115th justice to the Supreme Court today (Monday night US time).

If confirmed, Barrett will be the fifth woman to the court in its 231-year history and one who further cements its conservative shift – a legacy that will last even if Republicans lose power in next week's elections.

You can watch the vote in Senate live, below:

Once sworn in, Barrett will solidify a 6-3 conservative majority on the court and will be in a position to immediately hear contentious cases on elections and health care.

The White House has planned an outdoor ceremony after the vote, which has been criticised as "inappropriate" by Joe Biden, and Justice Clarence Thomas is expected to administer the judicial oath.

with The Washington Post

Latest updates

Trump, Biden's pitches to voters in pivotal Pennsylvania

Let's pause to take a look at the candidates' pitches to voters in Pennsylvania.

With eight days to go until the election, President Donald Trump addressed three boisterous rallies in Pennsylvania, while Democrat Joe Biden made a low-key appearance in the state considered crucial to the chances of victory for both men.

We win Pennsylvania, we win the whole ballgame.

President Donald Trump
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at the Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania.

Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at the Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania.Credit:AP

"We win Pennsylvania, we win the whole ballgame," Trump told a rally in Martinsburg, his third and final event of the day, as he predicted a win in the state despite trailing Biden in most opinion polls.

Biden made a small-scale appearance in the city of Chester, near Philadelphia, meeting with about a dozen campaign volunteers and speaking with reporters. Biden said he was "not overconfident about anything" and "with the grace of God" he would win Pennsylvania, the state where he was born.

"I think we're going to win Michigan, I think we're going to win Wisconsin. I think we're going to win Minnesota. I think we have a fighting chance in Ohio. I think we have a fighting chance in North Carolina. We have a fighting chance in Georgia," Biden added, referring to other election battleground states.

Joe Biden speaks to the media outside a voter service centre in Chester, Pennsylvania,

Joe Biden speaks to the media outside a voter service centre in Chester, Pennsylvania, Credit:AP

Biden also stepped up his criticism of Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 people in the US, saying: "The bottom line is, Donald Trump is the worst possible president, the worst possible person to lead us through this pandemic."

The bottom line is, Donald Trump is the worst possible president, the worst possible person to lead us through this pandemic.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden

Addressing supporters, Trump touched on what he called "an existential" issue for Pennsylvania, Biden's comment during last week's presidential debate that if elected he would "transition" the United States away from oil and natural gas.

"He wants to go with windmills that are made in Germany and China," Trump said, adding: "Biden's plan is an economic death sentence for Pennsylvania's energy sector."

In Chester, Biden defended his stance, saying: "I'm not shutting down oilfields. I'm not eliminating fracking. I'm investing in clean energy."

Biden previously said the country should eventually replace oil with solar, wind and other forms of non-polluting power, adding that his plan for a more climate-friendly economy would create high-paying jobs and boost US businesses.

Trump again asserted that his administration was "doing a great job" against the pandemic and that the United States was "absolutely rounding the corner." He accused Biden of wanting to return to widespread lockdowns that he said would harm the economy.

The president also won cheers from supporters when he touted his nomination of conservative appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court "to defend our God-given freedoms".

The Republican-led Senate to set to confirm Barrett to the lifetime job later shortly.

Reuters

'It’s going to be a great winter': Trump dismisses COVID surge

Despite a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in the White House, which has infected five staffers working for Vice-President Mike Pence including his chief of staff, Donald Trump downplayed his opponent’s concerns about the surge in coronavirus cases as he campaigned in Pennsylvania today.

The president spoke to thousands of supporters who gathered on Tuesday (Monday US time) across three rallies. Most were not wearing masks.

Trump said Democrat Joe Biden’s comments that the nation is facing a "dark winter" is a mistake. He said, "No, it’s not going to be a dark winter. It’s going to be a great winter. It’s going to be a great spring."

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Biden condemns White House celebrations for Barrett

Senate Republicans are currently in Washington declaring their support for the Trump's Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett.

The White House has planned a celebration of Barrett's expected confirmation after the vote on Monday night (Tuesday Australian time).

In Pennsylvania a short time ago, Joe Biden said he doesn’t blame Donald Trump for "celebrating" another Supreme Court confirmation, but added that the planned White House party is "inappropriate".

Joe Biden in Pennsylvania.

Joe Biden in Pennsylvania.Credit:AP

You might remember that a previous ceremony held at the White House for Barrett likely sparked the outbreak of coronavirus that resulted in the president and dozens of his aides and associates contracting the virus.

Speaking to reporters as he campaigned in Pennsylvania today (Monday US time), Biden urged the president "to have a little bit of shame because people are dying" amid new spikes in coronavirus cases across the country.

Biden has made Trump’s handling of the virus an anchor of his general election campaign.

The Democratic nominee also has been critical of Republicans’ speedy confirmation of Barrett. But today he said he gives "my word" that he hasn’t decided whether he’d back some Democrats' calls to expand the court if he takes office to counter Republican power plays.

He said he’d give a "bipartisan" commission of "constitutional scholars" 180 days from Inauguration Day to recommend changes to the federal court system. Biden said he’s "not a fan" of court expansion but promised to listen to experts.

AP

In photos: Trump's Pennsylvania rallies

The president made the three stops today (Monday US time) as he campaigns through the critical swing state .

The crowd at Trump's third rally at Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania.

The crowd at Trump's third rally at Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania.Credit:AP

A mini-Trump at the Martinsburg rally.

A mini-Trump at the Martinsburg rally.Credit:AP

A group of Pennsylvania coal miners cheers as Trump acknowledges them during the Martinsburg rally.

A group of Pennsylvania coal miners cheers as Trump acknowledges them during the Martinsburg rally.Credit:AP

A supporter at the rally at Lancaster Airport, Pennsylvania.

A supporter at the rally at Lancaster Airport, Pennsylvania.Credit:AP

Trump in Lititz - the second of three rallies on Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

Trump in Lititz - the second of three rallies on Pennsylvania on Tuesday.Credit:AP

Rally ends with a familiar promise, and a dance

Trump's third and final rally in Pennsylvania today has come to an end, with the president telling the crowd:

"We are one movement, one people, one family and one glorious nation under God. And together with the incredible people of Pennsylvania we have made America powerful again ... we have made America wealthy again, we have made America strong again, we have America proud again, we have made America safe again and we will make America great again."

Trump during his campaign rally at Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg.

Trump during his campaign rally at Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg.Credit:AP

In a direct message to Pennsylvania voters, he said: "This is the place where Pennsylvania workers mined the coal, worked the railroads and forged the steel that made America into the greatest and most powerful nation in the history of the world. And we are making it stronger and stronger every single day.

"Proud citizens like you helped build this country and together we are taking back our country. We are returning power to you, the American people. With your help, your devotion and your drive, we are going to keep on working, we are going to keep on fighting and we are going to keep on winning, winning, winning."

Usually, Trump's rallies end with the Village People's YMCA, and today was no different. Trump did a little jig, featuring his trademark fist-pumping dance moves, as he bid his thousands of supporters farewell.

Biden hits back: 'I'm not eliminating fracking'

By Farrah Tomazin

Presidential hopeful Joe Biden is also in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania to stave off a potential backlash over energy jobs.

Pennsylvania – once home to generations of coal miners and rail workers – is Biden's childhood home state.

Joe Biden speaks to the media outside a voter service centre in Chester, Pennsylvania on Tuesday (Monday US time).

Joe Biden speaks to the media outside a voter service centre in Chester, Pennsylvania on Tuesday (Monday US time). Credit:AP

Donald Trump has seized on comments Biden made during last Friday’s debate, in which the Democratic nominee suggested he would "transition" away from the oil industry if he was elected.

At this rally, and two others today, Trump has accused Biden of "betraying" the state’s working-class voters.

He also tweeted: "Last week, Joe Biden made perhaps the most shocking admission ever uttered in the history of presidential debates. On live television, Joe Biden confirmed his plan to ABOLISH the entire US Oil Industry - that means NO fracking, NO jobs, and NO energy for Pennsylvania Families!"

Biden, appearing at a voting centre in Chester, rejected this.

"Let me make it clear. I'm not shutting down oil fields. I'm not eliminating fracking. I'm investing in clean energy," he said.

Biden’s policy involves transitioning away from fossil fuels and would end new federal permits and leases for drilling oil and gas on public lands, which would include any new fracking permits. The vast majority of fracking is done on private land.

He also wants to eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

Pennsylvania is Democratic stronghold with a proud union tradition, but in 2016 residents were drawn to Trump’s narrative as a political "outsider" who would bring back jobs to the region and put "America First".

However, this election is likely to be much closer, with Biden – who hails from the former coal-mining region of Scranton – framing himself as a hometown candidate.

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US coronavirus deaths surpass 225,000, world's highest

Trump has repeatedly spruiked his government's achievements in saving American lives during the coronavirus pandemic.

But his claims come as the US death toll surpassed 225,000 today, the highest death toll in the world. Brazil has the second-highest number of deaths at 157,134, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Average deaths per day across the country are up 10 per cent over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday. Confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.

Deaths are still well below the US peak of over 2200 per day in late April. But experts are warning of a grim autumn and winter, with a widely cited model from the University of Washington projecting about 386,000 dead by February 1. A vaccine is unlikely to become widely available until mid-2021.

The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases hit a record high on Sunday of 68,767, according to Johns Hopkins, eclipsing the previous mark of 67,293, set in mid-July.

The US recorded more than 80,000 new cases on both Friday and Saturday - the highest marks ever - though testing has expanded dramatically over the course of the outbreak, making direct comparisons problematic.

Trump, who spent several days in the hospital after contracting the virus, has said repeatedly over the weekend and today that the country is "rounding the turn".

As we reported earlier, Trump's remarks come amid another outbreak in the White House inner circle - several close aides to Vice-President Mike Pence tested positive, including his chief of staff.

You can follow the latest coronavirus news in our live blog by my colleague Tammy Mills, here.

Read more here.

'You will lose your jobs': Trump tells crowd

Trump has played a video to the crowd featuring soundbites of Biden talking about China and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and of course, fracking.

The president said Biden voted for China to join NAFTA, robbing Pennsylvania of manufacturing jobs. "We want to see China rise," Biden says in the video clip.

Trump played the same video at his earlier rally at Lancaster Airport in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Trump played the same video at his earlier rally at Lancaster Airport in Lititz, Pennsylvania.Credit:AP

At the conclusion of the video, Trump said: "A vote for Biden ... is a vote to deliver economic ruin to Pennsylvania and your families."

Fact check: Biden on fracking

Let's pause for a moment to look at Biden's position on fracking.

Trump has assailed Biden over his position on fracking, seeking to paint him as a hostage to progressive Democrats' environmental reform wishes. Biden has repeatedly pledged not to abolish fracking.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at Dallas on Saturday.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at Dallas on Saturday.Credit:AP

At one of the Democratic primary debates, Biden misspoke when he addressed the subject, saying that if he became president, there would be "no more - no new - fracking". Biden’s campaign quickly corrected his mistake.

Biden’s actual position, which he frequently states, is that he would ban new gas and oil permits - including fracking - on federal lands only. The vast majority of oil and gas does not come from federal lands.

He’s hewed closely to that middle-of-the-road position, going so far as to tell an anti-fracking activist that he "ought to vote for somebody else" if he was in a hurry to see fracking abolished.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, opened up a years-long oil and gas boom in parts of the Southwest, High Plains and Northeast - including battleground Pennsylvania. The technique went into widespread use during the Obama-Biden administration

Some liberal Democrats wish Biden were taking a tougher line against fracking now. But he isn’t.

AP

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2020-10-26 23:13:00Z
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