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Suzanne Lynch’s US Election Diary: Biden focuses on soaring Covid rates

Farage joins Trump at Arizona rally as Wall Street has its worst day since June

With just five days to go until election day, former vice president Joe Biden is seeking to keep the focus on president Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as America's infection rates continue to increase.

America is now averaging about 70,000 Covid cases daily, with infections on the rise in 40 states.

Speaking in Delaware after a briefing with public health officials yesterday, Mr Biden said “the longer (Trump) is in charge, the most reckless he gets,” pledging to allow “science decide our decisions” if he is elected president.

Trump, in contrast, continued to downplay the threat of Covid at two rallies in Arizona and Nevada yesterday. He took aim at a suggestion by California governor Gavin Newson (incidentally the ex-husband of his son's girlfriend Kimberley Guilfoyle) that diners should wear masks between bites when eating out. "You have to eat through the mask … right?!" said Trump to the crowd.


The president also received a boost from his old friend Nigel Farage who appeared alongside him at the Arizona rally. "Four years ago I was honoured to come to America to bring the Brexit message, the message that you can beat the establishment," the Brexiteer declared. "That is what Donald Trump did, he beat the pollsters, beat the media and beat all the predictions, and the worst thing is they have never forgiven him for it."

While Trump has continued to brush off the pandemic, he may be more concerned about its economic impact. Stock markets continued their slide yesterday, spooked by rising coronavirus cases in the US and Europe. Wall Street had its worst day since June – not a headline the president wants to see so close to an election.

GDP figures for the third quarter will be published this morning. While they are expected to show a rebound since the second quarter of the year, the growth figures may be misleading given the dramatic contraction of the economy earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, one of the best kept secrets in Washington was exposed yesterday as the identity of “Anonymous” – a senior Trump administration official who penned an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times in 2018 – was revealed.

Miles Taylor, who served chief-of-staff to former Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielson, outed himself as the source.  Many in the White House breathed a sigh of relief that it was not someone more senior – Taylor is hardly a household name – and some questioned why the New York Times had agreed to allow him to write an anonymous article and bill him as "a senior administration official."

The original article claimed that senior officials within the Trump administration were “working diligently from within to frustrate part of [Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations.”

Away from the beltway, tension continued in Philadelphia for a third night as a curfew went into effect at 9pm. Protests have been taking place since the fatal shooting of an African-American man by police on Monday.

The new focus on the issue of police violence, and law and order, in Pennsylvania’s largest city potentially injects a new dynamic into the election in a key battleground state. I will be reporting from Philly later in the week.

Quote of the day

“This country can’t afford four more years of a president who thinks he is only responsible for the wellbeing of the people who vote for him,” – Joe Biden following a briefing with public health officials in Delaware yesterday.

On the campaign trail

In a rare diary clash, both Trump and Biden will be campaigning in Tampa, Florida today though the president is expected to have wrapped up by the time Biden arrives in the Gulf coast city this evening.

The Democratic candidate will also visit Broward County north of Miami, while Trump will finish the day with a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The appearance of the two candidates in Florida is a reminder of what’s at stake in the sunshine state where Trump is just 0.6 per cent ahead according to the Real Clear Politics poll of polls. The Trump campaign unveiled new Spanish-language ads, which will run in south and central Florida as well as Arizona and Nevada, as he tries to appeal to the Hispanic vote.

Vice president Mike Pence will leave Iowa in the morning for Nevada, straight after the president's visit to the region yesterday.

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris's husband, Doug Emhoff, will be campaigning in Ohio.

Recommended reads

Stephen Starr reports from rural Indiana, where support for president Trump has been complicated by the pandemic.

"Why I'm no longer "Anonymous"" – former administration Miles Taylor on why he spoke out against Trump.

Shawn McCreesh has an interesting article in the New York Times about whether the polls in Pennsylvania can be trusted. "I grew up around here and am dubious," he writes.

The two presidential candidates head to Florida today – the latest from the campaign trail here.

Politico has an article by the writers of "Fiasco," a podcast about the 2000 Florida presidential election recount: Five Lessons From the Florida Recount.