Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday made his first trip to Florida as the Democratic presidential nominee, facing a tight race in the state and a challenge consolidating support among its Latino voters, whom he moved to address as he campaigned along the increasingly Democratic I-4 corridor.
Against a backdrop of polls that showed Mr. Biden both cutting into traditional Republican constituencies and sometimes underperforming Hillary Clinton’s 2016 showing with Latino voters in Florida, he sought to engage a broad range of voters with stops in Tampa and then in Kissimmee, for a Hispanic Heritage Month event.
Mr. Biden’s campaign on Tuesday also unveiled a plan aimed at supporting Puerto Rico, which comes as he has faced urgent calls from some allies to shore up his standing with Puerto Rican voters, a critical constituency in Florida.
The plan goes beyond the issue of Puerto Rican statehood, though Mr. Biden addressed the subject in his remarks on Tuesday.
“I happen to believe statehood would be the most effective means of ensuring that residents of Puerto Rico are treated equally, with equal representation at a federal level,” he said. “But the people of Puerto Rico must decide, and the United States federal government must respect and act on that decision.”
The plan also called for accelerated disaster reconstruction funding, investments in Puerto Rican infrastructure following devastating hurricanes and efforts to “reduce its unsustainable debt burden,” among other proposals.
Other event participants included the actress Eva Longoria and the singers Ricky Martin and Luis Fonsi, who, speaking from behind socially distanced lecterns, urged viewers to vote and noted President Trump’s record of what critics have seen as callous comments and actions toward Puerto Rico.
“Donald Trump doesn’t seem to grasp, doesn’t seem to grasp, that the people of Puerto Rico are American citizens already,” Mr. Biden said. Jabbing at the president, he continued, “I’m not going to throw paper towels at people whose lives have just been devastated by a hurricane.”
He started the trip earlier Tuesday with a veterans-focused event at a community college in Tampa.
There, Mr. Biden laced into Mr. Trump over a report by The Atlantic that Mr. Trump had referred to American soldiers killed in combat during World War I as “losers” and “suckers” and had repeatedly been dismissive of military service at other points in his presidency. Mr. Trump has denied The Atlantic report.
“Nowhere are his faults more glaring and more offensive, to me at least, than when it comes to his denigration of our servicemembers, veterans, wounded warriors,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden spoke in often-personal terms about the challenges facing military families and veterans, including mental health and child care concerns. Mr. Biden, whose late son, Beau Biden, deployed to Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard, also suggested that Mr. Trump pays lip service at best to veterans.
“Our military is the greatest fighting force in the history of the world and that’s not hyperbole,” he said. It “deserves a commander-in-chief who respects their sacrifice, understands their service, and will never betray the values they defend.”
He went on to host a round-table discussion with veterans that touched on a wide range of issues, including Social Security, health care, systemic racism and racial disparities in the impact of Covid-19, and the environment.
“I can guarantee you, if I’m president, there will be no offshore drilling,” he said, calling for “basically a permanent moratorium” on the practice in Florida.
As Joseph R. Biden Jr. traveled to Florida, a new poll was released offering him signs of hope there, in one of the most competitive states in this year’s presidential election.
Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, held a wide lead over President Trump among Latino voters, according to the poll, which was conducted by Monmouth University, and he had the upper hand in the most politically competitive areas of the state.
Mr. Biden had the support of 50 percent of registered voters, while Mr. Trump attracted the support of 45 percent. That difference was within the poll’s margin of error.
Monmouth ran two likely voter projections, one accounting for high levels of voter participation and another for a lower-turnout scenario. When turnout was high, Mr. Biden’s edge remained at five percentage points, but with voter participation lower it ticked down to three points.
The Monmouth poll also showed Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump 58 percent to 32 percent among Latino voters, who are widely seen as crucial to a Democratic victory in Florida.
The results were more auspicious for Mr. Biden than those of two other quality polls released this month, which had showed him and Mr. Trump roughly splitting the Hispanic vote in Florida. Those polls were a cause for concern among Democrats, as Hillary Clinton won among Florida’s Latino voters by 27 points in 2016, according to exit polls.
Mr. Trump won Florida that year, but only by 1.2 percentage points.
The Monmouth survey showed Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump neck-and-neck among voters 65 and older, reflecting the president’s weakened support among one of the state’s most crucial voting demographics. In 2016, exit polls showed him winning that demographic by 17 points. The Monmouth poll found that 49 percent of older voters supported Mr. Trump, while 47 percent backed Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden was ahead by a nearly 2-to-1 margin in the seven counties, spread across the state, that were decided by under 10 points in the 2016 election, suggesting that Mr. Trump’s path to victory in Florida primarily involves turning out his base, rather than winning over persuadable voters.
The Monmouth poll, which was conducted from Sept. 10-13, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, traveled to California on Tuesday to survey the destruction caused by the wildfires raging through the American West, blaming the damage on climate change as she visited a heavily damaged area northeast of Fresno.
In her first appearance in her home state since her nomination, Ms. Harris met with Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and local officials and firefighters at the Pine Ridge School in Auberry, a community ravaged by what is known as the Creek fire.
Ms. Harris, dressed in jeans, a white T-shirt and a green jacket, listened as emergency officials gave an overview of the fire’s extensive damage, then walked with Mr. Newsom to look at the rubble of a destroyed home. As ash fell from the sky, Ms. Harris praised the firefighters and urged a serious campaign to reverse climate change.
“We have to do better as a country,” she said. “We have to understand that California, like so many other parts of our country, has experienced extreme weather conditions. It is incumbent on us, in terms of the leadership of this nation, to take seriously these new changes in our climate and to do what we can to mitigate against the damage.”
Ms. Harris’s visit came one day after President Trump met with Mr. Newsom in Sacramento. Despite a consensus among scientists that climate change is playing a role in both the size and intensity of the fires, the president blamed poor forest management.
The Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., attacked Mr. Trump, labeling him a “climate arsonist.”
The Creek fire, regarded as the 12th largest in modern California history, has burned an estimated 332 square miles of the Sierra National Forest and destroyed nearly 600 structures in Fresno and Madera counties. More than 64,000 people are under evacuation orders.
Ms. Harris landed Tuesday morning at Fresno Yosemite International Airport. As her convoy drove down Highway 168 outside the town of Prather, north of Fresno, several dozen pro-Trump protesters lined the highway.
President Trump on Tuesday spread a scandalous and baseless allegation about his general election opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., retweeting a post with the hashtag “PedoBiden.”
The tweet, originating from an account called “Conservative Girl,” shows a GIF of Mr. Biden standing behind Stephanie Carter during the 2015 swearing-in ceremony of her husband, the former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
By retweeting the post, Mr. Trump appeared to be taking the campaign to a new low as well as embracing a fringe theory promoted by QAnon, the far-right conspiracy movement. The group has been spreading the far-fetched idea that Mr. Trump is fighting a shadowy cabal of Democratic pedophiles in Washington.
In the GIF, Mr. Biden appeared to squeeze Ms. Carter’s shoulder and whisper something in her ear.
At the time of the incident, the photo went viral, with some critics suggesting that it illustrated Mr. Biden’s inappropriate behavior toward women.
But Ms. Carter later wrote that not only were the Bidens close friends, but also that the image was misleading and that Mr. Biden had leaned forward to tell her “thank you” on a day when she was uncharacteristically nervous, so much so that she had fallen on ice at the Pentagon.
Mr. Biden has faced criticism in the past for his behavior toward women, with several coming forward in 2019 to allege that he had touched their shoulders or hair in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. None of the women, however, was a minor.
It was the second time a member of the Trump family had smeared Mr. Biden with the incendiary allegation. In May, Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s oldest son, posted a picture of Mr. Biden on Instagram saying, “See you later, alligator,” along with an image of an alligator saying, “In a while, pedophile.” The inflammatory claim was shared with 2.8 million of the younger Mr. Trump’s Instagram followers.
The younger Mr. Trump, one of his father’s most frequent surrogates on the campaign trail, later said he was “joking around,” echoing one of his father’s tactics.
Voting By Mail
County elections officials in Pennsylvania may no longer discard mail ballots simply because they question the authenticity of a voter’s signature.
The Pennsylvania Department of State issued that guidance last week and, on Tuesday, two organizations that had sued the state over the practice dropped a federal lawsuit challenging it.
“As a result of this case, Pennsylvania voters can cast their vote without fear that their ballot could be rejected solely because an election official — who isn’t trained in handwriting analysis — thinks their signatures don’t match,” said Mark Gaber, the director of trial litigation at the Campaign Legal Center, which represented the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania in the lawsuit.
With the dramatic expansion of mail voting in Pennsylvania this year, the two organizations had filed suit in August arguing that local Boards of Elections in Pennsylvania had made subjective decisions on which ballots to discard.
Research has shown that a variety of factors — including age and disability — cause signatures to change over time.
VOTING RIGHTS UPDATE
A judge in Ohio ruled Tuesday that counties could deploy multiple drop boxes for absentee ballots in November, a victory for Democrats in a traditional battleground state that President Trump won easily in 2016.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose of Ohio, a Republican who supports President Trump, had attempted to limit to one the number of ballot boxes at each county office, leading to a lawsuit from the Ohio Democratic Party, which argued that the practice would disenfranchise voters in the state’s 88 counties.
On Monday, Mr. LaRose moved to block the installation of six drop boxes at libraries in Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland and a substantial percentage of the state’s Black voters; Tuesday’s decision likely clears the way for their placement.
Drop boxes have become a flash point in battles between Republicans and Democrats in several states because they provide voters with an option for casting absentee ballots without having to rely on mail delivery.
Judge Richard Frye of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court ruled that state law did not preclude the installation of multiple drop boxes per county, and that Mr. LaRose’s order was “arbitrary and unreasonable” in the midst of a pandemic.
Local boards of election are allowed to “tailor ballot drop box locations or conceivably other secure options to the needs of their individual county,” the judge wrote.
It was not immediately clear if Mr. LaRose would appeal.
A similar lawsuit was filed Monday in Iowa, where the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa and Majority Forward is challenging state limits on ballot drop box locations.
Guidelines issued this month by Secretary of State Paul D. Pate of Iowa, a Republican, limit drop boxes to locations in county buildings or directly outside of them. The guidance came after one county set up drop boxes at grocery stores, citing their convenience for voters.
In preparation for a record number of absentee ballots, Michigan lawmakers moved closer on Tuesday to allowing some local clerks to start processing those ballots before Election Day.
The State Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that would permit clerks in communities with 25,000 or more residents to begin processing absentee ballots for 10 hours on Nov. 2.
The legislation, which still has to be approved by the Michigan House of Representatives, is meant to address the concerns of local clerks who have been pleading with state lawmakers for changes that would help them count what is expected to be a record number of people voting by absentee ballot.
So far this year, 2.1 million voters in Michigan have asked for absentee ballots for November’s election.
Under the Senate bill, which was approved by 34 votes to 2, clerks will only be allowed to open an envelope that holds a voter’s ballot in a secrecy sleeve. They will not be able to remove a ballot from the sleeve or begin counting it.
Local clerks said the move was a good first step, but they were hoping for a week of pre-processing time.
In a letter to Republican legislative leaders, 17 local and county clerks said the extra days “would give overwhelmed jurisdictions the ability to conduct the election in the most safe and secure manner possible.”
Though Michigan allows any voter to apply for an absentee ballot, the change approved on Tuesday would only be applicable for this year’s election — a provision that helped the bill pass the Republican-led Senate.
“We’re in extraordinary circumstances and therefore, we’re going to make exceptions to regular practices,” said Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senator Mike Shirkey, the majority leader. “We’ll see if those measures are necessary for times like these.”
The state’s House of Representatives, also led by Republicans, has previously passed other bills to make it easier for clerks to deal with absentee voting. It is expected to pass this latest measure after a hearing on the bill next week.
Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of health for public affairs, apologized Tuesday morning for a Facebook outburst in which he accused federal scientists working on the pandemic of “sedition” and warned of coming violence from left-wing “hit squads.”
He is considering a leave of absence to address physical health problems, according to one source familiar with the situation.
Since he was installed at the Department of Health and Human Services last April by the White House, Mr. Caputo, 58, a media-savvy former Trump campaign aide, has worked aggressively to control the media strategy on pandemic issues. But over the weekend, he was engulfed in two major controversies of his own making.
First Politico, then The New York Times and other media outlets, published accounts of how Mr. Caputo and a top aide, Paul Alexander, had routinely worked to revise, delay or even scuttle the core health bulletins of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an effort to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light.
Then on Monday, The Times reported that a Facebook video posted by Mr. Caputo the previous night was filled with bizarre and incendiary comments. He had attacked C.D.C. scientists as anti-Trumpers who had formed a “resistance unit,” engaged in “rotten science” and “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants” except for coffee shop meetings where they plotted against the president. He urged his gun-owning followers to buy ammunition because “it’s going to be hard to get” and warned without evidence that left-wing hit squads across the nation were training for violent attacks.
In a statement Monday Mr. Caputo said since the spring, he and his family had been continually harassed and threatened, including by some individuals who were later prosecuted.
In other fallout, McMaster University in Canada issued a statement on Monday distancing itself from Dr. Alexander, whom Mr. Caputo hailed to his Facebook followers as a “genius.” He did receive a doctorate from the university, but he is not on the faculty, the university said.
A new national survey of Asian-American voters released on Tuesday found that a majority of Asian-Americans were more enthusiastic about voting this fall than in past elections and that, as a group, they overwhelmingly supported Joseph R. Biden Jr. over President Trump.
The survey, known as the 2020 Asian American Voter Survey, found that 54 percent of respondents planned to vote for Mr. Biden, compared with only 30 percent who planned to vote for Mr. Trump and roughly 14 percent who were undecided.
Roughly 44 percent of those surveyed identified as Democrats, 23 percent as Republicans and about 31 percent as independents or another party.
Though they make up only about 5 percent of the nation’s voters, Asian-Americans are the fasting growing racial group in the country, and experts say their influence is growing in presidential swing states like Nevada, North Carolina, Georgia and others. In addition, large concentrations of Asian-American voters in states like California and Texas could factor significantly into tight Congressional races there.
After Asian-American voters broke turnout records in the 2018 midterm elections, experts have, for months, been predicting that the 2020 general election could see even more of them going to the polls.
“Through this survey, we see that Asian-Americans are ready to exercise their power,” said John C. Yang, the head of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, an advocacy group that co-sponsored the survey.
The data released Tuesday was drawn from a survey of 1,569 Asian-American registered voters that was conducted from July 4 to Sept. 10.
Roughly 54 percent of the respondents said that they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting in the fall. Mr. Biden was favored among all Asian-American national origin groups surveyed except for Vietnamese-Americans, who preferred Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden, 48 percent to 36 percent.
Indian-Americans were the group most supportive of Mr. Biden, with two in three saying they planned to vote for the former vice president.
Majorities of the Asian-Americans surveyed also said they would support Democratic candidates over Republican ones in House and Senate races.
Scientific American has been in circulation since Abraham Lincoln was a humble lawyer in Springfield, Ill. But the magazine had not formally endorsed a presidential candidate until Tuesday, when it urged its readers to vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a scathing editorial that condemned President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and other science-related issues.
“The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic,” the editorial said, pointing to the president’s misleading statements downplaying the virus’s severity, his early disparagement of mask-wearing, his chastising of governors who declined to reopen businesses in their states and his administration’s well-documented testing failures.
“At every stage, Trump has rejected the unmistakable lesson that controlling the disease, not downplaying it, is the path to economic reopening and recovery,” added the editorial, which was bylined by the magazine’s editors and primarily written by Josh Fischman, a senior editor.
The editorial also criticized other actions taken by the Trump administration, such as repeatedly trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act without submitting an alternative, eliminating regulations designed to protect the environment and proposing drastic cuts in scientific research. It appears in the October issue, which went online Tuesday and will hit subscribers’ mailboxes this week.
The editorial also made an affirmative case for Mr. Trump’s opponent. “Joe Biden, in contrast, comes prepared with plans to control Covid-19, improve health care, reduce carbon emissions and restore the role of legitimate science in policy making,” it said.
Scientific American, founded in 1845 and published by Springer Nature, has opined on political matters before. In the 1950s, the magazine was an outspoken opponent of the hydrogen bomb, prompting the Atomic Energy Commission to censor one issue (and burn 3,000 copies of it). In the 2000s, the editors waded into the stem-cell research debate. And in 2016, they warned of Mr. Trump’s “disregard, if not outright contempt,” for science in an editorial that nonetheless stopped short of explicitly endorsing his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
As the magazine’s editors discussed its election coverage earlier this summer, they determined that the endorsement was necessary, said Laura Helmuth, who became editor in chief in March.
“He’s been so much worse than we warned,” Ms. Helmuth said of Mr. Trump in an interview. “The evidence was there already that he rejected expertise, that he embraced conspiracy theories, that he wasn’t interested in getting the right answers — just interested in projecting his own ideas. And then his administration has been just a disaster for science at every level.
“We could have gone on for pages and pages and pages,” she added.
Ms. Helmuth said the editors strove to make the editorial about President Trump rather than partisanship.
“We never use the world ‘Republican’ or ‘Democrat,’” she said. “We think and hope there are many who voted Republican in the past who this time will reject Trump.”
America’s international standing under President Trump is at or near its lowest levels since the dawn of the millennium because of his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported Tuesday as it released a new poll.
Pew, which surveyed residents of 13 industrialized countries on four continents, found that only 15 percent believe that the United States has done a good job combating the virus.
In every country polled, respondents gave much higher marks to their home governments, the World Health Organization and China than to the U.S., despite Mr. Trump’s claims that this country is handling the crisis better than any other and his attempts to shift blame for the outbreak to the W.H.O. and Beijing.
“Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe,” the report’s authors concluded.
The country’s falling standing accelerates a downward trend that began when Mr. Trump took office in 2017 after campaigning on a platform of “America First” — foreign opinions and alliances be damned.
Before the Trump era, public opinion of the U.S. remained steadily north of 50 percent in most countries — with the exception of the early 2000s, when President George W. Bush waged an unpopular war in Iraq. In the new survey, the U.S.’s median approval rating among the 13 countries was 34 percent.
Opinion of the U.S. are tethered tightly to those about its president. Mr. Trump netted a median approval rating of 16 percent, with a low of 9 percent in Belgium and a high of only 25 percent in Japan.
Those who did admire Mr. Trump had some demographic similarities with those who approve of him at home. “Men, people with less education and those on the right of the ideological spectrum tend to have more confidence in Trump’s handling of world affairs than their counterparts,” the report’s authors wrote.
Pew surveyed 13,273 adults from June 10 to Aug. 3 in Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the U.K., Australia, Japan and South Korea.
It is an endless debate in modern politics: Which party will better protect Social Security? A Trump campaign ad airing in Arizona and other states this week uses selective editing to make the case that Joseph R. Biden Jr. “tried to cut Social Security and Medicare for decades.”
The ad shows a clip of Mr. Biden when he was a senator giving a speech in favor of freezing Social Security.
Then, in a message that hews closely to Mr. Trump’s nationalist campaign themes, the ad falsely suggests that, as president, Mr. Biden would take away Social Security from Americans and provide it to undocumented immigrants, as the screen shows grainy footage of men emerging from a hole in the ground beneath a wall.
Unlike many of Mr. Trump’s earlier ads that were purely attacks against Mr. Biden, this ad spends its final third proclaiming that Mr. Trump “is protecting Social Security and Medicare” while headlines from Trump-friendly publications like The New York Post flash across the screen.
During his 36-year Senate career, Mr. Biden supported some actions that would slow or reduce spending on Social Security but also supported others that would protect benefits.
In 1984, he co-sponsored an amendment with two Republican senators that froze for one year nearly all military and domestic spending, including cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security benefits. In 1996, he supported raising the retirement age.
But Mr. Biden’s current plan calls for putting more resources behind both programs while increasing benefits, paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy.
Mr. Biden has also not called for taking away Social Security or Medicare from American citizens to provide it for undocumented immigrants.
Regarding the claim that Mr. Trump is “protecting Social Security,” the financial outlook for both trusts has largely worsened under his watch, partly because of Mr. Trump’s tax law, which is collecting less money from Americans and, in turn, investing less money into each program.
Where It’s Running
Arizona — where it is part of the campaign’s $926,000 ad buy this week — as well as Michigan, Georgia and Florida.
The Trump campaign has struggled to maintain the president’s support among older voters nationwide, and this ad is a clear attempt to win them back.
The three sleek American fighter jets patriotically swooping over a battlefield in a pro-Trump ad that ran around the Sept. 11 commemoration were, in fact, from Russia.
The five soldiers marching under the planes were Russian too. The whole thing was downloaded from a Shutterstock database of off-the-shelf images accessible for the site’s $29.95 monthly fee.
The Trump Make America Great Again Committee — a joint party-campaign fund-raising group whose donation page is embedded in the Trump-Pence website — ran the photo in a digital ad, urging viewers to “support our troops” on Sept. 8 with a link to send a contribution.
Politico first reported on the origin of the ad, and even managed to track down the artist who created the image, Arthur Zakirov, who said his opus was not only Russia-sourced, but faked.
Mr. Zakirov said he created the composite image five years ago from a model of a MiG-29 — an iconic Soviet fighter from the 1970s — along with models of Russian soldiers set against a backdrop comprising cut-and-paste fragments of sky and land taken from photographs of Greece, France and, inevitably, Russia.
An email to a spokesman for the committee was not immediately returned.
Shortly after the 2018 midterm elections, progressive groups looking at the 2020 Senate map alighted on one state where they had a chance to contest a safely Democratic seat against a centrist incumbent: Delaware.
But a bid to oust Senator Chris Coons never became a cause célèbre on the left. Liberal groups instead focused on House races, where they won key primary victories over veteran congressmen in Chicago, St. Louis and the Bronx.
And today Mr. Coons, a 10-year incumbent, is the clear favorite in a primary against a progressive challenger, Jessica Scarane. A poll found him leading by 40 percentage points, a margin sufficient to dissuade groups from spending money to help Ms. Scarane.
Still, Mr. Coons has used an enormous fund-raising advantage to blanket Delawareans with television ads, spending nearly $800,000, compared with Ms. Scarane’s $65,000. The only third-party organization to devote significant resources to the race has been the American Chemistry Council, which aired more than $200,000 in ads backing Mr. Coons.
Ms. Scarane, who moved to Delaware from New York 10 years ago, does not have the profile of other left-wing upstarts who have toppled incumbent centrist Democrats. Progressive organizations had first sought to recruit a woman of color to support in the race.
In down-ballot Delaware contests, Sarah McBride, a Democratic candidate for an open seat in the State Senate, is on track to become the nation’s highest-ranking openly transgender elected official.
Ms. McBride was the first transgender person to work at the White House when she served as an intern during President Barack Obama’s administration. There are currently four openly transgender elected officials serving in lower chambers of state legislatures in Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia.