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Suzanne Lynch’s US Election Diary: Trump returns to 2016 playbook in Pennsylvania

President tells crowd he is not a Washington politician as election day looms

"If I do not sound like a typical Washington politician, it's because I'm NOT a politician." Sound familiar? Yes, because this was Donald Trump last night at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, returning to the 2016 playbook that won him the election.

Whether this strategy delivers him victory a second time remains an open question as polls show Joe Biden with a double-digit lead nationally and ahead of Trump in several key swing states.

For the second consecutive night Trump was back campaigning, addressing a largely maskless crowd of red-hatted supporters, despite rising Covid-19 cases in Pennsylvania. This time he told the crowd he felt like “superman”, and he again suggested coming down from the stage to kiss people.

He also did an informal poll asking who in the crowd had had the virus. With 20 days to the election, the president has settled into a post-hospitalisation pattern – a day of tweet-filled activity from the White House followed by an evening rally in a key swing state.


Elsewhere, the confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett, the president's pick to replace the late supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, picked up pace on Tuesday as senators finally began to ask questions, with questioning stretching right into the evening.

Opening the session Lindsey Graham told Ms Barrett that she was a role model for young conservative women across the land, reminding them there is a "place for you at the table" – ACB versus RBG if you will.

During the second day of hearings, Barrett was questioned on her stance on gun rights, abortion and healthcare –  issues that are likely to come before her if confirmed to the bench.

Barrett followed many a would-be justice before her by skilfully avoiding any substantive answers and pledging to uphold the law as written. There were some emotionally charged moments when she confirmed under questioning that she owned a gun, and described how the George Floyd killing had been very personal to her own family, particularly her 17-year-old daughter who is black. "We wept together in my room," she said.

Asked by Senator Richard Blumenthal why she didn't disclose adding her signature to a pro-life ad denouncing the "barbaric legacy" of Roe V Wade, the supreme court ruling establishing the right to abortion, Ms Barrett said she had forgotten.

“It was consistent with the views of my church, and it simply said we support the right to life from conception to natural death,” she said, though there was no follow-up question on her position on the death penalty.

Senator Kamala Harris's moment came just after dinner time, though her back and forth with Barrett lacked the punch of some of her previous interactions with figures such as Brett Kavanaugh and attorney general Bill Barr.

Meanwhile, more states across the country began early-voting, a process that varies from state to state but is expected to be more widely used in this election. Virginia and Texas reported early morning problems with voting infrastructure, though experts said hours-long queues that formed at polling booths reflected an increase in the numbers voting.

On the campaign trail

In a sign that Trump could be in trouble in traditionally Republican states, the president heads to the rural state of Iowa this evening for a rally. Trump won the state by 10 percentage points in 2016, but a recent CBS/YouGov poll put the race at a tie.

Vice-president Mike Pence is due in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Trump campaign has also scheduled a Trump Pride event in Phoenix, following an event with Trump's former ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Donald Trump jnr will be in Las Vegas.

Following his visit to Florida on Wednesday, Joe Biden will be holding a campaign finance event. The campaign has not yet released his fundraising figures for last month, but the Democratic candidate has opened up a lead over Trump in terms of cash raised since the summer.

Quote of the day

Three more weeks until we end this madness

– Joe Biden campaigning in Florida yesterday.

Recommended reads

My report on Day Two of the Amy Coney Barrett hearing and the latest on Trump's return to the campaign trail.

Dave Hannigan in New York on the influence of right-wing talk shows.

The New Yorker has an interesting long read on governor Andrew Cuomo. During the height of the covid pandemic he became a reassuring presence to New Yorkers during his daily briefings, but his critics see him as calculating and ruthlessly ambitious.

Senator Lindsay Graham has released a new ad as he fights to retain his Senate seat in South Carolina. The topic? Hillary Clinton, as he tries to link his opponent Jaime Harrison to the former presidential candidate. "TOO LIBERAL for South Carolina," intones the ad.