It's third-quarter filing day with the Federal Election Commission and fundraising numbers have been trickling in throughout the day, but this year has seen some records shattered. ActBlue, the online platform that Democrats use to raise funds, announced it brought in $1.5 billion in the third quarter of the year alone, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. That comes down to more than $10.8 million dollars a day over the course of 92 days. It's also nearly what ActBlue brought in across the entire 2018 midterm cycle. The record cash haul came from 6.8 million donors making 31.4 million donations. The average contribution was $47. In September alone, donors gave $758 million, which comes down to more than $25 million a day. ActBlue's largest fundraising date in history was in the wake of Justice Ginsburg's death when donors gave $70.6 million. Its greatest number of contributions in one day came on September 30th when 1.2 donations were made.
WinRed, used by Republicans to raise funds online, also had a record quarter. It previously announced bringing in $623.5 million in the third quarter, an impressive sum for a platform that launched just last year. Its cash haul came from more than 11.65 million donations. The average donation through WinRed was $53. Its largest fundraising day to date was September 30, when it brought in more than $24.8 million in 24 hours.
Joe Biden also shattered fundraising records in September after breaking records in August, giving the former vice president a substantial financial leg up in the final weeks of the 2020 campaign. The Biden campaign revealed it brought in $383 million last month, up from the $364.5 million raised in August by the campaign, Democratic National Committee and their joint fundraising committee. The Democratic presidential nominee has $432 million cash on hand, Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a tweet. That's a massive war chest with less than three weeks until Election Day. The Trump campaign has not yet released its fundraising numbers. Read more about the cash haul here.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
In his fourth rally post-COVID 19 treatment, President Trump dropped into the Tar Heel state on Thursday, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga writes. And while North Carolina began sending out absentee ballots on September 4, Thursday marked the first day of in-person early voting. "The red wave is coming. The red wave is coming," Mr. Trump remarked. "And remember, early voting starts. Guess when? Today. So get out there." Taking aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mr. Trump claimed the Director of the NIAID is politically partisan. "He's a nice guy so I keep him around, right? We keep him around. He's a Democrat. Everybody knows that." For his part, Fauci has repeatedly disputed claims of political partisanship having served under six White House administrations. GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also appeared at today's rally, 15 days after testing positive for COVID-19. "She just fully recovered from COVID," Mr. Trump announced to supporters. Thursday marked Mr. Trump's ninth visit to North Carolina this year alone. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports Mr. Trump hit three of the state's largest media markets in September alone: Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem. A poll published by the New York Times/Siena College Wednesday shows Biden leading Mr. Trump 46% to 42%. Both presidential contenders will battle for TV viewers on Thursday night, appearing simultaneously on network news town halls instead of competing in their previously scheduled second debate. Mr. Trump will appear on NBC from Miami, while Biden takes the stage on ABC from Philadelphia.
Vice President Mike Pence was also on the campaign trail again on Thursday, campaigning in Florida for the second time in seven days, reports CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. Pence said Mr. Trump will be in the state on Thursday night, adding "we are doubling up on South Florida." Pence talked about the Trump administration's support for Nicaragua, Colombia and Venezuela while attacking Biden for appeasing Raul Castro. On Nicaragua, Pence said the U.S. stood strong against President Daniel Ortega's "brutalization of its citizens" and promised the president will continue to call for fair and free elections in 2021 in Nicaragua. On Venezuela, Pence said he was proud America became the first nation to recognize Guaido as the country's legitimate leader. And on Colombia, he signaled that President Trump helped get former President Uribe Velez out of house arrest. He also reminded the audience that early voting in Florida starts on Monday and urged them to bring their friends, family, and neighbors along when they go to vote.
Three individuals associated with the Biden campaign have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, according to CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry. Early Thursday the campaign announced that the Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris would be suspending her campaign travel until Sunday, October 18, because two people involved in the campaign, Harris' communications director Liz Allen and a non-staff flight crew member, have tested positive for COVID-19. Later in the day the campaign announced that an administrative member of the aviation company that charters Biden's aircraft has tested positive for COVID-19. Biden for President campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a statement that "Vice President Biden was not in close contact, as defined by the CDC, with this individual at any time. In fact, the Vice President did not even have passing contact: this individual was over 50 feet from VP Biden at all times, entered and exited the aircraft from a rear entrance, and both the individual and the Vice President wore masks for the entire flight." The statement continued, "Given these facts, we have been advised by the Vice President's doctor and the campaign's medical advisors that there is no need for the Vice President to quarantine." The person, who has not been named by the campaign, last traveled with Biden on a flight to Florida on Tuesday. According to the campaign this person was stationed in the last row of the plane, over 50 feet from Biden. The campaign announced that Biden last underwent testing for COVID-19 Wednesday night and tested negative.
The two people who came into contact with Harris, including her staff member Liz Allen, both received their positive tests late Wednesday night. Harris, who was scheduled to campaign in North Carolina, wrote in a tweet, "I will be transparent with you about any test results that I do receive." According to an aide with the campaign she underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 on Thursday, along with her husband Doug Emhoff. Both tested negative. Harris has had no in-person contact with Allen since October 8, when Harris traveled to Arizona to campaign with Biden the day after her debate with Pence. Allen, who has traveled with Harris on every campaign stop since Harris joined the ticket, was also in Arizona. It's unclear how close she was to Biden during the event. The campaign also tells CBS News that, on the flight back to Washington, D.C., Harris and the two individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 all wore N-95 masks, and Harris was "not within six feet for more than 15 minutes with either of them." Harris and her staff took separate cars from Biden while they were in Arizona. For more on this click here.
For the past two days, CBS News has been reporting on the allegations of Hunter Biden's laptop and deciphering the possible political motivations of the story that first ran in the New York Post on Wednesday. In our new CBS News story, 2020 campaign reporter Bo Erickson and CBS News digital assistant managing editor for politics Stefan Becket write Mr. Trump and his allies have launched a late effort to again tarnish Biden by tying him to his son Hunter Biden's overseas business interests, publicizing emails and photos supposedly from a laptop alleged to have been abandoned by the younger Biden and timing their release in a manner reminiscent of Russia's efforts to dump damaging material about Hillary Clinton in 2016.Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, said his own attorney, Robert Costello, obtained the material from the owner of a computer repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware, after Hunter Biden allegedly left it there for months. Giuliani provided the material to the New York Post on Sunday, and the Post began running stories about the supposed documents this week. But the owner of the computer store, John Paul MacIsaac, was unable and unwilling to answer key questions about how the laptop supposedly arrived in his store, and eventually, how the data was shared with Giuliani. CBS News interviewed MacIsaac for almost two hours on Wednesday and throughout the interview he contradicted himself about his motivations, raising questions about the truthfulness of one of the central figures in the story. Questions about the existence of the laptop, details on the alleged documents in question, and context about the ongoing effort by foreign actors to spread misinformation can be found here.
LIFE AFTER 2020
Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg announced 47 endorsements through his Win the Era PAC. Many of the endorsed candidates are running for state legislative races and nearly half of the candidates are under the age of 40 years old. In addition, some of the endorsed candidates are running in the battleground states of Florida, Michigan and North Carolina to flip state legislatures or to break Republican supermajorities in the states, according to CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. "We need to send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, but we also need to elect good leaders at the state and local level," Buttigieg said. "That's what this endorsement slate is about: making sure that we have forward-thinking, dynamic leaders at every level of our government who will deliver solutions to the biggest challenges we face."
BATTLEGROUNDS IN THE BATTLEGROUNDS
PENNSYLVANIA - *ERIE COUNTY*
Erie County, at the northwestern tip of Pennsylvania, is one of three counties in the state that voted for Barack Obama twice before Donald Trump. It's a onetime manufacturing powerhouse that the president energized in 2016 by promising to bring back factory jobs. That helped him narrowly win a county Mr. Obama had carried by almost 20,000 votes in 2012. But since Mr. Trump took office, about 20,000 manufacturing jobs have left Erie. In a speech at a union training facility in Erie last week, Biden honed in on those struggles. "Anyone who actually does an honest day's work sees him and his promises for what they are," he said. Verel Salmon, the chair of the county Republican Party, pushed back by telling CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak that Biden simply doesn't have the business credentials to help job growth in the region. "The bottom line is the economy," he said. "The ability of Mr. Biden and his family to benefit from the economy is clear, but in terms of running business of large scale, he doesn't have the credentials." Biden also incited alarm during a local television interview on his trip to the county by implying a massive locomotive plant in the area was considering shutting down, a claim the company vehemently denied. WICU-TV reported that the former vice president corrected himself off-camera after the interview, and Wabtec Corporation, which earlier this year purchased GE Transportation, quickly issued a statement saying that they have no plans of shutting down their plant in Erie that employs about 1,200 union workers. Salmon said the slip-up showed that Biden is uninformed about what's happening in the region. "He shouldn't have come," he said. "He lost more credibility than he had before," he said. Registered Republicans still trail Democrats by about 25,000 in the county, but the party has narrowed the margin by 5,000 registrations. Mr. Trump has not been to Erie yet this year but is expected to make a trip before the election.
Facebook and Twitter took steps to curb the reach of a New York Post article alleging leaked emails show Joe Biden's son introduced the former vice president and democratic presidential nominee to a Ukrainian energy executive, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. The move sparked outrage among Republicans and raised questions about social network's fact-checking of political journalism. Senate Republicans announced Thursday they plan to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. CBS News has not independently confirmed the contents of the New York Post article, and the Biden campaign has denied the report. "We have reviewed Joe Biden's official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place," said Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman. Facebook and Twitter's injunctions were criticized by Mr. Trump and his reelection bid, who accused the social networks of interference in the 2020 election. "I'll tell you what, he really is, he's a corrupt politician," Mr. Trump said Thursday about his political opponent. "Just remember it. I'm gonna say it more and more. And Facebook and all can try and shut us down. But you know what? Everybody knows it, " Mr. Trump said. "For all of those tech oligarchs who think they can get away with this, I will simply say that winter is coming," Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas said Thursday on a Trump campaign call with reporters. Cotton urged Congress to seriously consider "simply eliminating" an important legal shield for tech companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Former consultants to Senator Bernie Sanders who helped organize a notable level of Latino voter turnout in Iowa are now going back into the Hawkeye State to whip up support for Biden and Iowa Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield, reports CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe. America's Progressive Promise PAC - led by Jeff Weaver and Chuck Rocha, who helped run Sanders's presidential campaign - and Nuestro PAC, an outfit established by Rocha, are teaming up to spend about $500,000 to target Iowa's Latino voters with political mail and digital ads already airing in other more Latino-dominated states. The ad stars young former supporters of Sanders imploring fellow Democrats to vote for Biden. Currently, the CBS News Battleground Tracker shows Biden tied with Mr. Trump and Greenfield narrowly leading Republican Senator Joni Ernst.
In February, Sanders won the popular vote in the Iowa caucus, but came up short to Buttigieg in the delegate count required to secure the presidential nomination. But one of Sanders's secret weapons was an intense and multimillion-dollar plan to seek out, register and turn out the roughly 68,000 Latino voters living in Iowa, predominantly in neighborhoods around Des Moines and Muscatine.
Rocha explained the strategy to CBS News in February, saying that normally Latino voters aren't targeted by a major campaign until the final weeks before Election Day. "Somebody Google translates some English ad into Spanish and that's their Latino outreach. You just can't do that, if you really want to get Latinos engaged, right?" Now - yes, in the final weeks of a campaign - the two PACs are teaming up to send bilingual mailers to Latino households touting Biden and Greenfield. "BOLD LEADERSHIP. NEW IDEAS," one flyer says in English. "Liderazgo audaz. Ideas nuevas," it says in Spanish. In English and Spanish it adds, "Our frontline heroes need someone who is ﬁghting for them. Our seniors need someone protecting their healthcare. Our students need someone ﬁghting to reform student loans." Will it work? In a tight race, it kind of did for Sanders.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced on Tuesday evening that early in person voting tripled in the first week compared to the same point in the 2016 general election, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. LaRose's office said in a press release that 193,021 Ohioans voted early in person in the first week and that Ohio's county boards of elections have received 2,470,268 absentee ballot applications. In Franklin County, which encompasses Columbus, 55,414 absentee ballots have been returned as the Franklin County Board of Elections mailed nearly 290,000 absentee ballots to people who requested one. In heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has processed over 320,000 absentee ballot applications and 36,635 ballots have been returned, as of October 14.
More than 50 Wisconsin communities still looking for poll workers may get the National Guard's help to staff voting sites, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said Thursday that 51 municipalities still have critical need for about 180 workers combined. Green Bay needs 30 workers, the highest number of any community in the state. During Wisconsin's April and August election, when there was a larger need for poll workers than there currently is, the state's National Guard members served as election workers. Governor Tony Evers said they would be available again. "The National Guard will be there to make sure we have enough people working the polls," Evers said during a news conference on Thursday. WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe said the state needs more than 30,000 poll workers to staff a general election and communities need more workers than ever to help process absentee ballots and staff in-person voting locations. Despite the shortage, Wolfe said the state is in a good position, but needs to prepare for potential surprises. "I think we're in a really good place, but we never know what's around the corner," Wolfe said. Separately, Wolfe announced that Wisconsin currently has more than 3.6 million active registered voters. That's about 130,000 more registered voters than this point in 2016. 1.38 million Wisconsinites have requested absentee ballots for the general election and about 785,000 people have already voted.
IN THE SENATE
The Washington Examiner in an exclusive report published Thursday detailed audio of a conference call Senator Ben Sasse had with his constituents in which Sasse says Mr. Trump "kisses dictators' butts" and mocks evangelicals. In a statement to CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson, a spokesperson for Sen. Sasse said, "I don't know how many more times we can shout this: Even though the Beltway is obsessing exclusively about the presidential race, control of the Senate is ten times more important. The fragile Senate seats that will determine whether Democrats nuke the Senate are the races Ben cares about, the races he's working on, and the only races he's talking about. Just today, Senator Whitehouse was threatening court-packing in the Judiciary Committee simply because the Republican majority is going to confirm a Supreme Court nominee who steadfastly refuses to be a super-legislator. This is a civic crisis that is getting far too little attention." Sasse is up for reelection this November in Nebraska but is the favorite to win. Mr. Trump has endorsed Sasse and praised the senator for his work with veterans, the military, and crime on the border. Senator Sasse's office did not immediately respond to a question on whether or not the senator accepts the endorsement of Mr. Trump.
Senator Kelly Loeffler received the endorsement of Marjorie Greene Taylor on Thursday, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Greene is running for Congress in Georgia's deep red 14th Congressional District and is a notable past supporter of QAnon. Loeffler is facing a jungle primary with 20 other candidates on the ballot for the special election to fill the remaining two years of Senator Johnny Isakson's term. Included on that list is Representative Doug Collins, who has been a fierce defender of Mr. Trump over the past year.
IN THE HOUSE
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $70.5 million between July and September, bringing their total raised to $278 million and their cash on hand to $64 million. All are record highs for the committee at this point in the election cycle. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that incumbent Democrats in districts Trump won are also continuing to post high numbers, though some Republican challengers are also catching up. Burgess Owens, the Republican candidate in Utah's 4th and featured speaker at the Republican National Convention, raised $2.7 million in the quarter. He's facing Congressman Ben McAdams in a district Trump won by almost 7 points. Genevieve Collins, running in Texas' 32nd against Colin Allred, reported $2.02 million raised. Democrats challenging Republican incumbents are also raking it in. Kara Eastman, a progressive Democrat running for a second time in Nebraska's 2nd, raised $1.8 million, just shy of doubling her Republican opponent Don Bacon, who reported $977,017 raised. Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican running against Democrat incumbent Congressman Max Rose in New York's 11th district that spans south Brooklyn and Staten Island, raised $1.02 million. Rose's campaign says they doubled Malliotakis and raised $2 million in the quarter. The two had a testy debate Tuesday night, and at one point during a discussion about police and her time as a state senator, Malliotakis' mic was cut off by the moderator. One of her donors listed? James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks NBA team, who found offense with Rose saying he should sell the team. Navarro reports Dolan and at least four of his family members donated $2,800 a piece to Malliotakis' campaign.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker's communications director told WCVB in Boston the governor "cannot support Donald Trump for president and is focused on seeing Massachusetts through the pandemic." A statement from the governor's communications director said, "He'll leave the election analysis to the pundits." Baker joins GOP Governor Phil Scott of Vermont, who said in August he wouldn't vote for Mr. Trump. Neither have outright endorsed Biden. Baker has also often been referred to by Mr. Trump as a "RINO" (Republican In Name Only) by Mr. Trump, most recently on September 25 in a tweet about mail ballots. "RINO Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts is unsuccessfully trying to defend Mail In Ballots, when there is fraud being found all over the place. Just look at some of the recent races, or the Trump Ballots in Pennsylvania that were thrown into the garbage. Wrong Charlie!" Mr. Trump wrote. Baker is up for reelection in 2022. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who has publicly disagreed with Trump regarding the coronavirus, did not vote for Trump in 2016 (he endorsed Chris Christie) and was once considering challenging him in the GOP primary. He said in August he hadn't made a decision on his vote this year. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that Hogan, seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2024, wrote in his book "Still Standing" that regardless of who wins in November, "a large majority of Americans are thoroughly convinced that our political system is fundamentally broken." On 2024, he added that while the attention will turn there after the election, "unless we begin to change the self-destructive course that both parties are on, this mess will likely just repeat itself."
In the first and only debate in North Carolina's gubernatorial race, incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest clashed significantly on how to handle the pandemic going forward. After a decreasing positivity rate for most of the summer, the state is now seeing close to 1,900 cases a day, according to the latest data from the CDC. This is close to the same rate the state saw in early July. Forest, who during the debate touted his background running an architectural firm, emphasized a need to loosen restrictions on businesses, curb the state's unemployment rate and reopen schools. He namechecked Tennessee and Georgia for their reopening process, saying, "they're learning how to live with the virus and protect the vulnerable and get people back to work. They're learning how to do that. We have to learn how to do that in North Carolina, too." Cooper, who repeatedly said he'd prioritize public health first, pointed to Georgia's higher COVID infection and death rate. "That's the kind of state you'd get with Dan Forest as governor: More cases, more deaths, more deaths in nursing homes. I don't think the people of North Carolina want that," Cooper said. Cooper also criticized Forest for continually holding in-person campaign events and not requiring masks, an attack reflected through his past ads. Forest said choosing to wear masks should be left up to the individual, and that, "we don't need a governor that treats us like 5-year-olds. We need a governor that does protect us, but not treat us like we're little kids." He also pointed to debunked claims that masks don't work and cause "more harm than good." "Really, Dan? Really? Masks don't work? Scientists say they don't?" Cooper responded with. "That is just absolutely not true. You're finding that on the dark corners of the internet." While North Carolina has multiple competitive races on the ballot, CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro says Cooper has consistently outpaced other Democrats in his polling leads. In the latest New York Times/Siena College poll, Cooper holds a 14-point lead. Biden and Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham hold a 4 point lead.