President Trump expressed concerns about delayed election results Thursday afternoon. “I want to have the result of the election. I don’t want to be waiting around for weeks and months,” he told reporters gathered in the White House briefing room. Mr. Trump suggested on Twitter Thursday morning that the date of the election be moved “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.” But the president does not have the power to move the date of the election, as it is set by federal law.
President Trump skirted his earlier idea that the November general election might be postponed, instead lodging unfounded concerns vote-by-mail will lead to voter fraud. “I don’t want a delay. I want to have the election. But I also don’t want to have to wait three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything.”
The Constitution gives only Congress the authority to set the “times, places and manner” of congressional elections and a law passed in 1845 states “the electors of president and vice president shall be appointed in each state on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November of the year in which they are to be appointed.”
The president’s tweet Thursday morning received rare pushback from Republicans on Capitol Hill and statehouses across the country. GOP leaders say the election will proceed on November 3 as planned, CBS News digital reporter Melissa Quinn and campaign reporter Nicole Sganga report.
“We’ve had elections during wars. We’ve had elections during depressions. We’ve had elections during civil unrest,” GOP Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee told reporters on Capitol Hill. “We should have our election when it’s scheduled in November, and I’m sure we will.” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said the “election will be held on the date set by Congress,” while Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said the election should not be delayed. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina declared moving the date of the election “wouldn’t be a good idea.”
In the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the chamber’s top Republican, said while he understands Mr. Trump’s concerns about mail-in voting, “never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election, and we should go forward with our election.” CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson notes this sentiment was echoed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told WNKY in an interview that Americans would vote in November. “Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this November 3,” the Kentucky Republican said.
Confusion sown by President Trump’s mixed messages on voting by mail have led to public and private frustration in Republican circles. Some of those voices are louder than others – like Republican New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu, who wrote on Twitter, “Make no mistake: the election will happen in New Hampshire on November 3rd. End of story. Our voting system in NH is secure, safe, and reliable. We have done it right 100% of the time for 100 years – this year will be no different.”
At his press briefing on Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, also a Republican, said he wouldn’t support delaying the upcoming election. “There’s absolutely no reason to think the election couldn’t be held on that day,” DeWine said, later reiterating that the president does not have the authority to change Election Day.
The president ramped up his attacks on vote-by-mail as the coronavirus began rapidly spreading across the United States in March, upending the 2020 presidential campaign and causing more than a dozen states to postpone their primary elections. State election officials also began exploring ways to expand vote-by-mail to ensure Americans could cast their ballots without the risk of becoming infected. Every time the president has floated unverified claims of election fraud, Republican field operations double down on their absentee ballot efforts to dispel misinformation. Mr. Trump’s claims that mail-in voting would lead to voter fraud are not supported. Legal experts say there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S., and a database of election fraud cases compiled by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, shows few instances of absentee voter fraud in battleground states.
CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar adds Democratic Association of Secretaries of State Chair and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla also said President Trump “does not have the authority to change or delay the General Election.” Padilla has been a big proponent of voting by mail and since March, he has been pushing for its expansion. Padilla said, “Secretaries of State know the measures necessary to ensure an accessible, secure, and safe election, but we need the resources in order to implement them.” He added that if Mr. Trump is concerned about the security of the upcoming election, “he should urge Senate Republicans to approve $3.6B in election funding for states.” Padilla said that money would help states expand no-excuse voting by mail while also offering safe opportunities to vote in-person prior to and on Election Day.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
On the jaw-dropping second quarter GDP report, Joe Biden’s main focus was blaming President Donald Trump: “The depth of economic devastation our nation is experiencing is not an act of God, it’s a failure of presidential leadership. Had President Trump taken immediate and decisive action, tens of thousands of lives and millions of jobs would never have been lost,” Biden wrote in a statement.
Looking toward the election, Biden did not directly comment today on the president’s suggestion about postponing the presidential election, a power outside the Executive Branch’s grasp. But 98 days ago, during a virtual fundraiser, Biden predicted such questions would be raised by Mr. Trump, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports.
“Mark my words I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Biden said on April 23, and went on to accuse Mr. Trump of trying to withhold funding from the Postal Service to make “it very hard for people to vote.” Biden said making it “very hard” for people to vote by mail was “un-American.”
In an hour-long conversation primarily about safety during the pandemic with the American Federation of Teachers union, Biden did not comment on Mr. Trump’s tweet but knocked him, once again, for the pandemic response. Biden told those gathered online, “Trump has dropped the ball again” and demanded the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “stop playing political games” with the next round of COVID-19 relief bills.
For the second time this month, Vice President Pence campaigned in Pennsylvania. CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar reports that at a “Cops for Trump” event in Greensburg, Pence told the crowd gathered in a parking lot that the Trump Administration “will back the blue with more resources and more support.” Pence told the audience to remember that law and order are at stake when Democrats call for defunding the police and warned “you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” The vice president said, “Joe Biden would double down on the policies that are leading to violence on the streets of America’s cities,” adding that Mr. Trump would never take funds away from law enforcement.
President Trump won Pennsylvania by roughly 44,000 votes in 2016 and the Trump campaign believes it can repeat that success again in November. Last week on a call with reporters, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said Pennsylvania has “been trending Republican in presidential cycles for the past decade,” and pointed to GOP voter registration increase as reason for optimism.
Recent polling has shown President Trump sharply behind Biden in the state. A Franklin and Marshall poll released Thursday placed the current president nine points behind the former vice president. CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak reports that since the 2016 general election, Republicans have overall outpaced Democrats in registering new voters in the state. In November of that year, Pennsylvania Republicans outnumbered Democrats by over 915,000. As of Monday, that lead had fallen by more than 130,000 to about 783,000. In 2020, however, Democrats have been re-strengthening their edge on Republicans. Pennsylvania Democrats have added about 207,000 new members, while Republicans have lagged behind with about 134,000 this year.
Stepien predicted four more years for President Trump if he wins all the states he won in 2016 and at least one of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, or Michigan. Mr. Trump won the three states by narrow margins four years ago. Stepien also said last week that Biden is “largely undefined for most Americans,” adding that while most Americans know of the former vice president, far fewer know much about him. “Our job here every day is to change that and define him for who he is today,” Stepien said.
Thursday’s event juxtaposed the administration’s support for law enforcement and against claims that the presumptive Democratic nominee will defund the police. “The Joe Biden message works here,” Stepien told reporters last week. “This is a case we will be making to the people of Pennsylvania over and over and over again over the next one hundred days.” In Westmoreland County Thursday, where President Trump easily won in 2016 with over 63% of the vote, Pence told the crowd “the stakes have never been higher.” Biden and “the radical left,” Pence said, “offer a path starkly different than the path President Trump set our nation on three and half years ago.” Pence said voters are going to decide “between freedom and opportunity versus socialism and decline.”
Before the speech, Pence’s campaign bus and limousine motorcade were involved in minor accidents. Click here to read more.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Senator Tammy Duckworth said she has been interviewed to be Joe Biden’s running mate, an experience she said was good. “It’s positive,” Duckworth added. “You know, I have always loved interacting with Vice President Biden.”
In a separate interview with Time, CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says Duckworth commented on the significance of what it would mean to be selected as the first Asian-American running mate.
“It is very significant for me to be on a national stage for other Asian-Americans, because we often are the forgotten minority in this country,” Duckworth said. “We are seen as the other, as you saw with the attacks on me by Tucker Carlson. You know it’s easy to talk about Asians as the ‘other’ and that we’re not truly Americans, when we’re just as American as anyone else.” Duckworth added that she is not only “very proud to represent Asian-Americans,” but also said she is “very proud to represent people with a disability and working moms and veterans.”
REMEMBERING HERMAN CAIN
Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has died from coronavirus, according to a post on his website. The businessman and right-wing media personality was 74 years old, CBS News digital politics reporter Grace Segers reports. “Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us — has passed away,” Dan Calabrese, the editor for Cain’s website, wrote in a post on Thursday morning. Cain was hospitalized with COVID-19 on June 29.
Calabrese wrote that Cain knew “that this was going to be a rough fight” when he was first hospitalized, particularly since he had already survived a cancer diagnosis and was in a vulnerable demographic because of his age and health. Although perhaps most famous for his 2011 presidential campaign, Cain had a long career as a prominent businessman. In 2011, Cain launched his viral “9-9-9 plan,” a proposal to replace the tax code with a 9% business transactions tax, a 9% personal income tax, and a 9% federal sales tax.
Cain attended President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20. The 2012 Republican presidential candidate posted a photo of himself and other rally attendees, none of whom were wearing masks. Although masks were provided to attendees at the rally, wearing them was not mandatory. Trump campaign officials told CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga that Cain sat with members of the president’s “Black Voices for Trump” advisory board, as seen in the photo he posted to Twitter, but he did not come into direct contact with Mr. Trump. In a press conference, President Trump called Cain “a very special person,” telling reporters, “Unfortunately he passed away from a thing called the China virus. And we send our prayers to Herman’s great wife, Gloria.”
ISSUES THAT MATTER
The U.S. economy suffered its biggest quarterly decline on record, with gross domestic product falling at an annualized rate of 32.9% in the second quarter, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday. The previous record for quarterly loss was 10% back in the first quarter of 1958, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. The decline came as many states issued stay-at-home orders, which forced businesses to close or drastically cut back their services. Those orders were mostly in place in March and April, but some states began to lift them in May and June. The Dow closed down more than 200 points following the GDP news. Also on Thursday, the Labor Department released data showing about 2.2 million people filed for jobless benefits last week. That included more than 1.4 million people who filed traditional claims and more than 800,000 people who filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program for self-employed and gig workers. The number of continuing claims, which covers people who have already received claims and filed another claim, increased by 867,000 for the week ending July 18.
After an ex-volunteer for the Maricopa County Democratic Party was arrested Wednesday for the firebombing of their headquarters in Arizona last week, resulting in the “total loss” of the county party’s offices, Republicans in the swing state are calling on Democrats to issue an apology over posts by one of the state Democratic party’s staff linking the blaze to “the violent political environment” created by President Trump. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin reports police say Matthew Egler, who served as a precinct committeeman for Arizona Democrats in 2016, set the fire “in retaliation” for being banned by the county party from volunteering and threatened “additional violence.”
Following an Associated Press report detailing 911 calls on Nevada Republican congressional candidate Dan Rodimer dating to 2018, the DCCC – the Democratic party’s House campaign arm – is calling on its GOP counterpart to disavow Rodimer. The ex-wrestler, who Democrats have decried over previous run-ins with law enforcement and delays with financial disclosures, is challenging Representative Susie Lee for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District in one of the nation’s more competitive contests. “Susie Lee must be incredibly desperate if she’s begging reporters to write gossip columns about private moments between Dan and his wife where no charges were pressed and the Rodimers are still happily married with five young children and a sixth on the way,” NRCC Spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair tells CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin in a statement, asked about the DCCC’s statement.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order for a statewide mask mandate on Thursday, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. The order, which lasts from August 1 through September 28, requires people to wear face masks when they are inside or in an enclosed place with anyone from outside their household. It recommends that people wear masks outside when social distancing is not possible. Children under the age of 5 do not have to wear masks. In a press release, Evers cited the increased spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. 61 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties are experiencing high COVID-19 activity, compared to just 19 counties in June.
Last week Wisconsin saw an average of 938 new cases each day, compared to an average of 556 cases each day the first week of July. Evers has said recently that he wasn’t sure that he had the authority to enact a statewide mask mandate due to a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in May that struck down his safer at home order. Evers pushed back against the idea that the timing was done to coincide with liberal Judge Jill Karofsky taking a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court on August 1, which would narrow the conservative majority to 4-3. One of the conservative justices sided with Evers’ ability to issue the safer at home order. “We’ve been thinking about it, we’ve been following the data,” Evers said at a press conference, noting it takes time to put orders like this together. “We believe the way we approached this has good legal standing and also it just makes sense. The bottom line is we just need to keep people safe.”