Biden V.P. – are living Updates as decide Nears

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Aug. 11, 2020, 3:02 p.m. ET

Aug. 11, 2020, 3:02 p.m. ET

Joe Biden might pick his running mate as soon as today. In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar faces a stiff primary challenge, while a QAnon supporter has a shot at a Georgia House seat.

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Biden V.P.: Live Updates as Pick Nears

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In a new national poll, Biden maintains a 10-point lead over Trump.

Biden V.P.: Live Updates as Pick Nears

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Joe Biden is expected to reveal his running mate as soon as today.

  • The V.P. selection process draws to a close.

  • Hush-hush preparations are underway at a hotel ballroom in Delaware.

  • Ilhan Omar’s campaign knocks on doors as she faces a primary challenge in Minnesota.

  • A QAnon supporter has a solid shot at winning her House runoff in Georgia.

  • Polls are open in Wisconsin and Georgia. Can they avoid repeating this spring’s voting disasters?

  • A House candidate in Connecticut dropped out of today’s primary after being arrested.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has interviewed all of the finalists to be his running mate.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has interviewed all of the finalists to be his running mate.Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to reveal his running mate as soon as today, though senior Democrats believe the announcement is likelier to be on Wednesday or Thursday. His selection will kick off a newly intense phase of the presidential race, giving a jolt of energy to the Democrat’s candidacy as he and his party prepare for their convention next week.

Or that is the Democrats’ goal, anyway. Under normal circumstances, it would be easy enough to command the news cycle with a vice-presidential announcement. But on most days, the 2020 election is at best a secondary story, after the coronavirus pandemic. While Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential search has captivated political junkies, it has rarely made front-page news as it would in a typical election year.

So what kind of pressure does that put on Mr. Biden and his partner-in-waiting? It certainly leaves little room for error in the announcement. Mr. Biden’s aides have mapped rollouts for several of the top candidates, but executing them smoothly amid a torrent of other news — and what could be instantaneous attacks from President Trump — is a tall order.

Yet the women seen as finalists are all riveting political characters, very possibly capable of commanding the spotlight in ways that Mr. Biden has struggled to do in his own right. Unlike Mr. Biden, his running mate will be positioned to make history for something other than being the oldest person ever elected.

Perhaps most important, Mr. Biden does not need to shake up the race with his announcement. He is closing in on his vice-presidential choice in a strong political position: He is not looking to reset the campaign, as John McCain was in 2008, or scrambling to unite his party, like Mr. Trump four years ago. Like so much else about his candidacy, Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential announcement may be a success if it is simply low-drama and wins mild but broad public approval — if it is, in other words, just good enough.

WILMINGTON, Del. — Mr. Biden has told allies that he has interviewed every finalist in his vice-presidential search, and his advisers are planning an announcement for the middle of the week, people briefed on the selection process said on Monday.

In a sign that the choice is now in Mr. Biden’s hands alone, the four-member committee that screened his potential running mates is said to have effectively disbanded — its work is complete, Biden allies said, and there is little left to do except for Mr. Biden to make up his mind.

The former vice president, however, has not been known for his punctuality so far in the presidential race, and the timeline could well slip again.

Mr. Biden has spoken with the vice-presidential candidates through a combination of in-person sessions and remote meetings over the last few weeks, but the exact timing and circumstances of all of the meetings are not clear. Close advisers to Mr. Biden said he had been directly in touch with all of the leading candidates.

Some of the strongest contenders have been Senator Kamala Harris of California; Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser; Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who met with Mr. Biden on Aug. 2. Mr. Biden and his team have also closely considered Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Representatives Karen Bass of California and Val Demings of Florida.

A ballroom at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Del., is being set up for a big media moment.
A ballroom at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Del., is being set up for a big media moment.Credit…Katie Glueck/The New York Times

WILMINGTON, Del. — Just before midnight on Monday, workers darted in and out a side door of the grand old Hotel du Pont, pausing for brief cigarette breaks or a chat, then getting back to setting up for an unspecified event. The effort had been underway for hours, at least.

“Can’t tell you,” one man said when asked why everyone was working so late.

The setup in an ornate ballroom — soft purple and blue lighting, screens, possibly a sound system — could be for anything, or anyone.

But as Mr. Biden’s advisers prepare for an imminent vice-presidential announcement and Mr. Biden plans to accept the presidential nomination from Delaware next week, it is worth noting that the Hotel du Pont was where he announced his 1972 Senate candidacy. It is also where he has made major political appearances in the decades since — including, in March, the last in-person event he held before the coronavirus shuttered the campaign trail for months.

Workers who were seen setting up for the event at the hotel appeared to be from BNY Production, a company that has been a frequent vendor for the Biden campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records. A truck from Wizard Studios, another event-production company that has worked for the campaign, was also parked outside the hotel on Monday.

By Tuesday morning, the doors to the street were closed, but an open door leading from the hotel lobby revealed large screens set up under the room’s chandeliers.

A Biden spokesman did not comment Tuesday morning when asked about the signs of a potential Biden event.

President Trump’s job approval ratings continued to slide in Wisconsin, particularly on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
President Trump’s job approval ratings continued to slide in Wisconsin, particularly on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A new national poll released Tuesday shows Mr. Biden maintaining a 10-point lead over Mr. Trump, with just 4 percent of voters remaining undecided.

The poll, conducted by Monmouth University, showed Mr. Biden garnering the support of 51 percent of registered voters and Mr. Trump earning 41 percent. A small share of support went to third-party candidates and the rest were undecided.

Mr. Biden’s lead was about the same as he had in a late-June survey by the same pollster, in which Mr. Biden was ahead of Mr. Trump by 12 percentage points.

The Monmouth Poll was conducted by telephone from Aug. 6 to Aug. 10 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

In Wisconsin, a swing state won by Mr. Trump in 2016, Mr. Biden led the president by six percentage points in a Marquette Law School poll of registered voters that was released on Tuesday.

Six percent of those polled said that they would not vote for either Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden, 3 percent were undecided and 1 percent would not disclose their choice for president.

Mr. Trump’s job approval ratings continued to slide in Wisconsin, particularly on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic — 58 percent of those polled said they disapproved of his response to the health crisis. The poll had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

Representative Ilham Omar’s campaign quietly returned to door-knocking, with new protocols in place.
Representative Ilham Omar’s campaign quietly returned to door-knocking, with new protocols in place.Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

In the weeks before Minnesota’s congressional primary on Tuesday, volunteers for Representative Ilhan Omar’s re-election campaign did something highly unusual: They went door knocking.

In any other year, going door to door to speak with voters in person would be a given. But during the coronavirus pandemic, the traditional methods of identifying, organizing, persuading and turning out voters have been upended.

Some Republican campaigns, including Mr. Trump’s, have resumed in-person campaign activities. But most Democratic candidates, including Mr. Biden, have largely switched to a sort of virtual ground game to connect with voters through phone calls and text messages.

Ms. Omar’s campaign quietly returned to door-knocking in the beginning of July, with new protocols. Volunteers would wear masks. They would ring a doorbell and then step back at least six feet. They would carry safety kits that included hand sanitizer.

“There’s an element that just can’t be re-created not being in person,” said Claire Bergren, Ms. Omar’s campaign manager.

Even Ms. Omar herself briefly hit the pavement.

Her primary is in the spotlight on Tuesday, as she hopes to continue a string of victories by progressive candidates nationwide. She faces a well-financed challenge from Antone Melton-Meaux, a lawyer who has raised more than $4 million.

Ms. Omar, an unabashed progressive who has at times run afoul of some party leaders, won the support of House Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her re-election efforts. Mr. Melton-Meaux has tried to cast her as a national lightning rod too controversial for the district.

Mr. Melton-Meaux nearly matched Ms. Omar’s fund-raising over all and outraised her in the most recent cycle, sounding alarms that the race could be closer than expected. Polls opened at 8 a.m. Eastern time and close at 9 p.m.

The race has also been transformed by the killing of George Floyd, in Ms. Omar’s district. She has been a leading voice in advocating systemic changes such as restructuring police departments, while her opponents have focused on more incremental reforms.

Marjorie Taylor Greene has made no effort to soft-pedal her support for the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Marjorie Taylor Greene has made no effort to soft-pedal her support for the QAnon conspiracy theory.Credit…John Bailey/The Rome News-Tribune, via Associated Press

The Republican Party is going to find out just how big a QAnon problem it has on Tuesday when a primary runoff is decided in a northwest Georgia district, where polls opened at 7 a.m. Eastern time.

The favorite in the race in the 14th Congressional District is Marjorie Taylor Greene, a gun-rights activist who is an unabashed supporter of QAnon, a fringe group that has been pushing a convoluted pro-Trump conspiracy theory. Lined up against her is John Cowan, a physician who is no less conservative or pro-Trump, but who does not believe QAnon’s theory that there is a “deep state” of child-molesting Satanist traitors plotting against the president. The winner is a near lock to be elected to Congress in the overwhelmingly Republican district.

The F.B.I. has labeled QAnon a potential domestic terrorism threat, and the conspiracy theory has already inspired real-world violence. Yet its supporters are slowly becoming a political force with more than a dozen candidates who have expressed some degree of support for the theory, running for Congress as Republicans.

Most are expected to lose. Yet all present a fresh headache for Republican leaders.

The party, while already struggling to distance itself from conspiracy theories steeped in racist and anti-Semitic messaging, also cannot afford to turn off voters who share those conspiratorial views if it hopes to retain the Senate and retake the House.

A victory for Ms. Greene would make that balancing act far harder. She has been caught in Facebook videos making a series of offensive remarks about Black people, Jews and Muslims. And unlike some other QAnon-linked candidates, she has made no effort to soft-pedal her support for the conspiracy theory. She recently called it “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out.”

Yet she nonetheless won 40 percent of the vote in the district’s Republican primary in June. Mr. Cowan won 21 percent, and the remainder of the votes were split between seven other candidates.

Election workers counted absentee ballots in Atlanta on Tuesday.
Election workers counted absentee ballots in Atlanta on Tuesday.Credit…John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

As voting takes place in Georgia and Wisconsin on Tuesday — polls opened at 7 a.m. Eastern in Georgia and 8 a.m. Eastern in Minnesota — attention will be on the election systems just as much as the candidates.

These two battleground states struggled to hold earlier primary elections amid the pandemic; while Tuesday’s elections will probably have lower turnout, they will still be a test of the voting apparatus.

In Wisconsin, which was the first state to hold a large, statewide election as the pandemic was surging in early April, the coronavirus is still near peak levels, but the elections system appears to be on more solid footing. One of the key causes of the long, mask-clad lines in Milwaukee in April was a shortage of poll workers, which led the city to consolidate 180 polling locations down to five.

On Tuesday, about 170 voting sites will be open in Milwaukee, or roughly 95 percent of the regular sites. The state also activated the National Guard, which will be dressed in plain clothes, to be on standby should there be any emergency shortages on Tuesday.

In Georgia, where about 60 percent of the state’s counties are holding elections, the turnout isn’t expected to reach levels at which long lines would be a problem as they were during the primary. The state’s most populous county — Fulton County — also opened an early voting location at State Farm Arena in Atlanta to help alleviate Election Day surges.

The absentee ballot deadlines, which required a ballot to arrive by close of business on Friday, remain unchanged from the primary election in June.

A Republican running for Congress in Connecticut was arrested Monday night and dropped out of the primary campaign just hours before voters went to the polls on Tuesday, the authorities and state party officials said.

The candidate, Thomas Gilmer, was charged with strangulation and unlawful restraint in connection with a “possible domestic assault,” the police in Wethersfield, a Hartford suburb, said in a statement.

In a post on Twitter, the Connecticut Republican Party said Mr. Gilmer had ended his campaign.

Mr. Gilmer, a businessman, had won the Republican Party’s endorsement in May but faced a primary challenge today from Justin Anderson, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard. In November, the primary winner will take on the longtime Democratic incumbent, Representative Joe Courtney, who was re-elected by a 62-to-35-percent margin in 2018.

Thomas Gilmer turned himself in to the police on Monday night.Credit…Wethersfield Police Department

Mr. Gilmer, 29, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday morning.

The police said they were contacted in July about the episode that led to Mr. Gilmer’s arrest. The authorities did not provide any additional details.

Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for Connecticut’s Secretary of State, said the office had not received formal notice of Mr. Gilmer’s withdrawal from the race as of Tuesday morning.

Thousands of absentee ballots have already been mailed out, Mr. Rosenberg said, and if Mr. Gilmer wins Tuesday’s primary, he would remain on the November ballot unless he formally withdraws.

Republicans might be able to nominate someone to replace Mr. Gilmer if he wins and withdraws, depending on the timing, Mr. Rosenberg said.

Democratic officials believe that Michelle Obama, the former first lady, could attract the widest viewership of the week apart from Mr. Biden. 
Democratic officials believe that Michelle Obama, the former first lady, could attract the widest viewership of the week apart from Mr. Biden. Credit…Charles Sykes/Invision, via Associated Press

The Democratic National Convention will play out like a star-studded Zoom call next week, anchored by nightly prime-time keynote speeches, with Michelle Obama appearing on Monday, Jill Biden on Tuesday, Barack Obama on Wednesday, and Mr. Biden’s acceptance speech on Thursday, according to a schedule of events.

The convention, originally planned for Milwaukee, then forced into a cramped virtual format by the coronavirus, has been a logistical nightmare for planners who have had to grapple with wary television networks, daunting technical challenges and the omnipresent, low-grade threat of a disruption by Mr. Trump.

The schedule, provided by Democratic officials involved in the planning, above all else reflects Mr. Biden’s chief political goal: uniting the jostling progressive and establishment wings of the Democratic Party behind an elder statesman who has spent the last several months courting skeptical progressives.

The first-night schedule reflects that big-tent objective. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mr. Biden’s main rival for the nomination — and still the standard-bearer of the populist left — has been given a keynote slot, just before Mrs. Obama speaks, and after Andrew M. Cuomo, the moderate governor of New York, delivers what is expected to be a scathing attack on Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

After the formality of a virtual delegate vote on Tuesday, Mr. Biden’s running mate will address the convention on Wednesday. As a precaution, planners have scheduled speaking times for some top vice-presidential contenders in case they are not picked, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.

About three-quarters of all American voters will be eligible to receive a ballot in the mail for the 2020 election — the most in U.S. history, according to a New York Times analysis. If recent election trends hold and turnout increases as experts predict, roughly 80 million mail ballots will flood election offices this fall, more than double the 2016 figure.

The rapid and seismic shift can be traced to the coronavirus pandemic. Concerns about virus transmission at polling places have forced many states to make adjustments on the fly that — despite President Trump’s protests — will make mail voting in America more accessible this fall than ever before.

“I have a hard time looking back at history and finding an election where there was this significant of a change to how elections are administered in this short a time period,” said Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state and chairman of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State.

Most of the changes are temporary and have been made administratively by state and local officials, using emergency powers. Over all, 24 states and the District of Columbia have in some way expanded voter access to mail ballots for the 2020 general election.

President Trump has floated the idea that he would deliver his renomination speech at Gettysburg, the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle.
President Trump has floated the idea that he would deliver his renomination speech at Gettysburg, the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

After repeatedly throwing a wrench into plans for the Republican National Convention this summer, Mr. Trump on Monday tried to offer something tantalizing about the upcoming gathering, saying that his renomination speech would take place either at the White House or the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa.

“We will announce the decision soon!” Mr. Trump teased in a Twitter post.

It was perhaps a predictable move by the first president to be credited as an executive producer of a network reality show while sitting in office.

But whether Mr. Trump will actually deliver a nationally televised address in Gettysburg — the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, a place memorialized in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln as hallowed ground — remains an open question.

The battlefield, where Mr. Trump gave an indoor campaign speech in 2016, is federal property run by the National Park Service. This presents the same ethical conundrums his re-election team will face if the president delivers the speech from the South Lawn of the White House.

In private, Mr. Trump has expressed to aides more interest in delivering his address at the White House, in part because of the ease of arranging the speech, set for Aug. 27, in a short time frame.

The president is not subject to the Hatch Act, a Depression-era law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while on the job. But everyone who works for him is. By delivering a speech with the Gettysburg battlefield as a backdrop, experts said, Mr. Trump would risk putting park rangers and other park employees at risk of a violation.

A report released Tuesday said that lower-income Americans voted at a far lower rate in 2016 than those with higher incomes.
A report released Tuesday said that lower-income Americans voted at a far lower rate in 2016 than those with higher incomes.Credit…Bryan Woolston/Reuters

People with low incomes who are eligible to vote are much less likely to do so in national elections than those with higher incomes, and are more often constrained from casting ballots by transportation issues, illness or other problems out of their control, according to a study released Tuesday by the Poor People’s Campaign.

The study, by a Columbia University researcher, found that only 46 percent of potential voters with family incomes less than twice the federal poverty line voted in the 2016 presidential election, compared with 68 percent of those with family incomes above twice the poverty line.

Notwithstanding the practical hurdles lower-income voters face, the reasons voters across the economic spectrum most often cited for staying home were the same: disillusionment with the candidates, campaign issues and the political process writ large.

“They’re saying that they’re not voting because people are not speaking to their issues and that they’re just not interested in those candidates,” said the researcher, Robert Paul Hartley, an assistant professor of social work. “But it’s not that they couldn’t be.”

Though poor and low-income people turned out in large numbers in recent some state and local elections like the 2019 Kentucky governor’s race, the Rev. William J. Barber II, co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign, a nonpartisan coalition advocating to increase the power of the poor, said that the over 40 percent of Americans with lower incomes remained a largely untapped political force.

“The only way you can expand the electorate in this country is to expand among poor and low-wealth people,” he said.

As political onlookers continue to wait for Mr. Biden to announce whom he has selected as his running mate, the battle to frame how voters will view the pick has already begun in earnest.

On Tuesday, the Biden campaign sent a warning shot ahead of a selection that many Democrats fear will lead to sexist attacks aimed at whichever woman Mr. Biden ultimately chooses.

Seeking to rebut criticisms the Trump campaign has already made, and is expected to make once there is a decision, Mr. Biden’s campaign seized on a statement from a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign in which she said that the former vice president had sold “his soul to the radical left” and asserted that his running mate, whomever it ends up being, would do the same.

Members of Mr. Trump’s team have made other similar comments in recent days, seeking to cast Mr. Biden’s running mate as “radical” without knowing whom it will be.

“The Trump campaign has already discredited their attacks before we’re even out of the gate by announcing that regardless of who Joe Biden nominates, they’ll strain to depict the V.P. candidate as ‘radical’ — just like they’ve tried and failed to do with Biden himself for months,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr. Biden’s campaign.

Mr. Biden was expected to reveal his running mate as soon as today, though senior Democrats believe the announcement is likelier to be on Wednesday or Thursday.