- Early voting expands across the US, almost 20 million have already voted.
- Donald Trump is to speak to seniors in Florida before heading to Georgia today.
- Joe Biden focuses on healthcare at campaign events in Michigan.
- Biden’s campaign outraised Trump’s by $135m in September.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Steve Chaggaris and Jihan Abdalla.
Friday, October 16:
13:00 ET – Biden ahead of Trump in early ratings for dueling town halls
Early data showed former Biden led a TV ratings battle withTrump at their competing town hall events, according to Hollywood publication Variety.
Biden pulled in more than 12 million viewers on Walt Disney Co’s ABC on Thursday night, while Trump attracted roughly 10.4 million on Comcast Corp’s NBC, Variety said.
Updated figures, including the addition of viewership on Comcast-owned cable networks that simulcast the Trump event, were expected later on Friday.
12:25 ET – Pennsylvania reject 372,000 ballot applications
Pennsylvania, one of the most hotly contested battleground states has rejected 372,000 requests for mail-in ballots.
Local media reported that more than 90 percent of those applications, or about 336,000, were denied as duplicates, primarily because people who had requested mail-in ballots for the state’s June 2 primary did not realise that they had checked a box to be sent ballots for the general election, too.
Voters have also been baffled by unclear or inaccurate information on the state’s ballot-tracking website, and by a wave of mail ballot applications from political parties and get-out-the-vote groups.
County offices across the state have been forced to hire temporary staff and work seven days a week to cope with the confusion.
12:20 ET – ‘Hamilton’ cast to host virtual fundraiser for Biden campaign
Biden’s presidential campaign announced that it will be holding a virtual grassroots fundraiser with the cast of the hit musical Hamilton on Friday night.
12:00 ET – Biden draws more town hall viewers
Biden drew 12.7 million total viewers during Thursday night’s dueling town halls on Thursday, while Trump drew 10.4 million, according to initial figures.
11:40 ET – Trump retweets satirical post about Joe Biden
Trump retweeted a satire story about Twitter shutting down over reporting on Biden.
“Wow, this has never been done in history. This includes his really bad interview last night. Why is Twitter doing this. Bringing more attention to Sleepy Joe & Big T.”
Twitter, did not shut down, as the article was written by the satire news site Babylonbee.
The Tweet also caused Big T and Babylon Bee to trend on the site. Some users thought “Big T” was a reference to “Trump.” But Trump later clarified that Big T was a reference to Big Tech.
11:15 ET – Rapper launches Black party
Rapper Diddy, born Sean Combs via a series of Tweets announced that he was launching a Black political party, named Our Black Party, calling it the “boldest thing” he has ever done.
The party’s website lists nine core values that lay out the rights of Black people in America.
And with early voting already underway across the country the party says it is aimed at “getting Trump out of office.”
“This man literally threatened the lives of us and our families,” he said in a video.
In another Tweet, Combs said “we need to get Biden in and hold him accountable.”
10:35 ET – Republican governor says he voted for Ronald Reagan
Larry Hogan, a Republican Governor of Maryland said he “voted for Ronald Reagan” in this year’s election – writing in the name of the late president and conservative icon.
Hogan said Reagan is his “hero in politics” and he made the decision after concluding that he could support neither Trump nor Biden.
“I know it’s simply symbolic. It’s not going to change the outcome in my state. But I thought it was important to just cast a vote that showed the kind of person I’d like to see in office,” Hogan said in an interview with the Washington Post.
10:30 ET – Christie says he was wrong not to wear mask in White House
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that he was wrong not to wear a mask at the White House, after he and Trump both contracted the coronavirus.
In a statement, Christie said he has recovered from COVID-19 after a weeklong stay in a hospital’s intensive care unit. He called on all political leaders to advocate for face coverings, with the practice becoming increasingly politicized even as the pandemic has killed more than 217,000 Americans.
“I believed that when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that and I and many others underwent every day,” Christie said. “I was wrong.”
10:20 ET – Nebraska Senator rips Trump over COVID-19, foreign policy
Ben Sasse a Republican US Senator told Nebraska constituents in a telephone town hall meeting that Trump has “flirted with white supremacists,” mocks Christian evangelicals in private, and “kisses dictators’ butts.”
Sasse, who is running for a second term representing a reliably Republican state, made the comments in response to a question about why he has been willing to publicly criticize a president of his own party.
He also criticised Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and said Trump’s family has treated the presidency “like a business opportunity.”
10:00 ET – It has been one year since Trump and Pelosi have spoken
An emblem of political polarisation in Washington: Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have not spoken directly since October 16, 2019, exactly one year ago.
On that date, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders walked out of a meeting at the White House about Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. As tensions rose, Trump called Pelosi a “third-rate politician” and shortly thereafter, the Democratic leaders left the meeting.
Pelosi this week said any negotiations she has with the White House are through Trump’s intermediaries, not with Trump himself.
09:45 ET – White House was warned Russia targeted Giuliani as misinformation messenger: Report
The Washington Post is reporting the White House was warned last year that Trump’s lawyer and adviser, Rudy Giuliani, was the target of a Russian intelligence disinformation operation.
The warnings led National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien to alert Trump that any information Giuliani brought back from his trips to Ukraine – including information about Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings – should be considered as having Russia’s fingerprints on it. Trump reportedly “shrugged his shoulders” and dismissed the concerns.
Giuliani is reportedly one of the sources of a disputed New York Post report that was published this week about Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine.
09:30 ET – Biden significantly outraises Trump in September
Joe Biden and the Democrats have announced their record-breaking September fundraising haul: $383m, and it was suspected this would put him far ahead of Trump’s campaign. Now we know how much further ahead Biden is.
Trump’s campaign and Republicans raised $247.5m in September and ended the month with $251.4m cash on hand. Biden’s campaign announced having $432m in the bank as of September 30.
The campaigns will have one final pre-election fundraising disclosure next week which will give a snapshot of how much they have on hand as of October 14.
09:15 ET – Trump’s smile and Mister Rogers
Two moments from last night’s duelling Trump-Biden town halls touched on one unlikely subject: Smiles.
Before asking a question about immigration, a voter said to Trump: “I have to say, you have a great smile … You’re so handsome when you smile,” prompting a wide grin from the president.
Interestingly, after the town hall, the Miami New Times caught up with that voter, Paulette Dale, who told the newspaper that she is voting for Biden. “I wish he would smile more and talk less,” she said about Trump.
As for Biden, the Trump campaign senior adviser, Mercedes Schlapp, was growing frustrated with the tone of the Biden town hall and compared it with “watching an episode of” Mister Rogers Neighborhood. She was referring to Fred Rogers, the late children’s television show host who continues to bring smiles to the faces of children and adults and is lauded for his kindness and patience.
Her remarks caused Mister Rogers to trend on Twitter with many responses finding humour in Schlapp’s attempt at an insult turning into an inadvertent compliment of Biden.
09:00 ET – Twenty-one million Americans have already voted
Turnout totals for early voting – expanded across the US due to the pandemic – has shot past 21 million, far outpacing this point in previous elections.
The US Elections Project, which tracks early voting across the country, has reported that 21,231,821 people have already voted ahead of Election Day, November 3. In 2016, the total number of Americans who voted early by mail or in-person early voting was 47 million.
Early voters wait to cast their ballots at the South Regional Library polling location in Durham, North Carolina, October 15, 2020 [Gerry Broome/AP]More Democrats than Republicans have cast their ballots so far, however, election experts caution that it is unknown exactly who those voters voted for until those votes are counted. In addition, Republicans historically have participated less in early voting and traditionally turn out in larger numbers in person on Election Day.
Read yesterday’s updates here.
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