Kamala Harris Visits Wisconsin

Harris and Pence come to Wisconsin bearing two very different messages, while Biden and Trump accuse each other of politicizing the virus. It’s Tuesday, and this is your politics tip sheet.

  • Kamala Harris met privately with the family of Jacob Blake yesterday during a campaign stop in Kenosha, Wis., her first visit to a battleground state since becoming Joe Biden’s running mate. The Democratic candidates have begun to ramp up in-person campaigning as the race enters its final two months.

  • “They’re carrying the weight of a lot of voices on their shoulders,” Harris told reporters after meeting with the family of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was left partly paralyzed after being shot in the back by the police last month. Harris said she wanted “to express concern for their well-being and, of course, for their brother and their son’s well-being, and to let them know that they have support.”

  • While in the Milwaukee area, Harris also observed Labor Day by touring an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training center and meeting with union members.

  • In his own visit to Wisconsin yesterday, Mike Pence did not mention Blake by name, focusing instead on the threat of street violence in cities. “Rioting and looting is not peaceful protest, burning businesses is not free speech,” Pence said at the electric utility company Dairyland Power Cooperative.

  • The vice president criticized Biden for not condemning Democratic mayors, whom Pence accused of failing to quell the protests that had sometimes turned destructive.

  • Pence said that as president, Biden would perpetuate “policies that have literally led to violence in our major American cities.”

  • “Disloyal,” the memoir by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, is out today — and it doesn’t pull any punches in describing the president’s personal views and business practices. Cohen classifies Trump’s behavior as morally bankrupt and moblike, saying he is willing to engage in underhanded tactics to take down anyone who opposes him.

  • In particular, Cohen recounts a pattern of blatantly racist statements and behavior. “As a rule, Trump expressed low opinions of all Black folks, from music to culture and politics,” Cohen writes. “Tell me one country run by a Black person that isn’t a shithole,” he recalls Trump saying.

  • The book also describes the negotiations during the 2016 campaign that led the Trump team to pay off an adult-film actress who said she had had an affair with Trump.

  • In response to the book’s revelations, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, dismissed Cohen as “a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer who lied to Congress” and who “has lost all credibility.”

  • A poll released Sunday by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler showed the presidential race in a statistical tie in the Lone Star State, with 48 percent of likely voters saying they planned to vote for Trump and 46 percent for Biden.

  • The president has made gains since July, when a Morning News/University of Texas survey gave Biden a five-point lead among a sample of all registered voters. But the abiding closeness of the race underscores the distinct possibility that Texas could vote for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since the 1970s.

  • Biden continued to hold an edge among independents deemed likely to vote, according to the new poll — 46 percent preferred Biden, versus 37 percent for Trump — and there was room to grow: One-third of independent likely voters said they hadn’t firmly made up their minds yet.

  • Trump won Texas by just nine points in 2016, the narrowest margin in a presidential election since Republicans began their string of uninterrupted victories there in 1980. More than half of voters in the poll said they planned to vote early in person; just 20 percent said they expected to cast a ballot on Election Day.

Credit…Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

Harris toured an electrical training facility on Monday during her first visit to a battleground state as Biden’s running mate.

If a coronavirus vaccine suddenly emerges on the eve of the election — less than a year after the virus was first detected in humans and far earlier than most health experts had predicted — will Americans feel safe taking it?

Speaking to reporters at the White House yesterday, Trump doubled down on recent comments suggesting that a vaccine could be available as soon as next month. “We’ve done an incredible job, and in speed like nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump said. “This could’ve taken two or three years and instead it’s going to be done in a very short period of time. You could even have it during the month of October.”

But Democrats are sounding the alarm — saying that rushing a vaccine could be too risky. On Sunday, Harris told CNN that she “would not trust Donald Trump” to provide truthful information about a vaccine. “I will not take his word for it,” she said.

Biden echoed that argument yesterday during an appearance in Pennsylvania, saying that he would want to consult with health experts before taking any vaccine approved by Trump’s administration.

“One of the problems with playing with politics is he’s said so many things that aren’t true,” Biden said. “I’m worried if we do have a really good vaccine, people are going to be reluctant to take it.”

“But pray God, we have it,” he added. “If I could get a vaccine tomorrow, I’d do it. If it cost me the election, I’d do it. We need a vaccine, and we need it now.”

Americans continue to broadly disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, and polls show that most voters say they would trust Biden over Trump to confront the pandemic. In a conference call with reporters on Friday, top Biden campaign officials affirmed their intention to keep the virus front and center during the race’s final months.

But Trump, it appears, is hoping that an expedited vaccine could provide him with an ace in the hole — neutralizing Biden’s most potent critique and turning voters’ attention more squarely to the economy and matters of race and policing.

Typically it takes years for a virus vaccine to be safely developed, but Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, has said he is willing to skip the normal approval process to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine. He has insisted, however, that he would not let political considerations factor into his decision-making.

Earlier this month, Robert Redfield, the country’s top public health official, instructed governors to accelerate the process of opening immunization centers, in preparation for the unveiling of a national vaccination program.

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