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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Trump campaign insists weather caused rally to be postponed

President Trump's campaign rally in New Hampshire that was planned for Saturday has been postponed due to incoming Tropical Storm Fay, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday. The campaign said in a statement that the rally, which was supposed to be held in an outside venue, will be rescheduled and a "new date will be announced soon." In a statement, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said, "The rally scheduled for Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire has been postponed for safety reasons because of Tropical Storm Fay." Mr. Trump tweeted Friday about the cancellation, writing that they were "forced to schedule" due to "Tropical Storm Fay heading towards the Great State of New Hampshire this weekend." Mr. Trump wrote, "Stay safe, we will be there soon!" New Hampshire GOP chair Stephen Stepanek and longtime Trump ally told CBS News, "It was an outdoor rally with potential thunder and lightning storms."  He continued, "It was a safety issue." Following the cancellation, campaign aides insisted that tomorrow night's event would have brought a "packed house" of supporters into the airport hangar.  "We had him here in February," Corey Lewandowski told CBS News, insisting turnout was not a concern in New Hampshire. "We had 12,000 people fill the SNHU arena. We broke the record." But in the age of coronavirus,  CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga and CBS News digital politics reporter Grace Segers say it's unclear if they would have again broken that record, and all the more unlikely that 12,000 people who showed up to Mr. Trump's rally at SNHU arena in February would have reprised their efforts in defiance of CDC guidelines.

The National Weather Service says showers and thunderstorms are likely between 1 and 3 p.m on Saturday, and there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3 p.m. There is a 30% chance of showers before 8 p.m., the scheduled start time of the rally. According to Facebook's ad library, the Trump campaign spent tens of thousands of dollars investing in hundreds of digital advertisements encouraging Trump supporters to RSVP for the rally. It was unclear what the attendance would be at the rally, given concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. Republican Governor Chris Sununu said he would not appear at the rally, and it was unclear how many Republican officials would attend. However, Sununu would have greeted the president upon his arrival, and told reporters Tuesday that he planned to wear a mask while doing so. "We hear from the Trump campaign that they'll be there wearing masks," he added. Sununu said Friday that he heard about the cancellation from Twitter and they "have no additional information at this time." 

Mr. Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month had fewer attendees than expected. The top health official in Tulsa said this week that the rally, along with attending protests, had likely contributed to the city's spike in recent coronavirus cases. In an effort to ease concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, Portsmouth's event was set in an open-air airport hangar. The outdoor space in conjunction with New Hampshire's handling of the pandemic served as primary rationales behind the location, according to GOP officials and advisors to the campaign. The New Hampshire event was set to follow the Tulsa rally that had 6,200 attendees in an arena that seats nearly 20,000.  TikTok users claimed to register for potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets ahead of Mr. Trump's Tulsa campaign rally as a prank. Many reprised their efforts ahead of Portsmouth's event. One organizer, Mary Joe Laupp, who helped lead the TikTok protest ahead of Tulsa's rally, noted attendees that reserved seats this time around were sent an additional "confirm 48 hours before the event" message from the Trump campaign. "Many found that amusing," Laupp told CBS News. But the added step might have created an added firewall for campaign officials, giving the president's re-election bid a better indication of fake RSVPs ahead of Saturday's event.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Before Joe Biden swung by his childhood home in Scranton on Thursday, he shed more light on his general election position on fracking — an important gas industry in Pennsylvania that many progressives view as bad for the environment, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. Asked this week about job opportunities if fracking was on the chopping block, Biden defended fracking. "Well, fracking is not going to be on the chopping block," Biden told WNEP. This is his most definitive stance yet toward fracking and is much less hostile than his position during the presidential primary when Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and many of his Democratic rivals said they would effort a ban on fracking altogether. Last summer, Biden was asked about coal and fracking and he, in part, said, "We would work it out, we would make sure it's eliminated" and shut the door to more subsidies. When he faced Sanders at the CNN debate in March, Biden put timetable restrictions on the process: "No new fracking," he said. Ahead of the November general election, jobs are the reason for this tightrope walking on fracking now from Biden. In 2019, hundreds of fracking-related jobs disappeared in Pittsburgh alone, the Pittsburgh City Paper reported, with potential for even more jobs to disappear this year.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

As Florida nears 250,000 COVID-19 cases, Mr. Trump visited the southern part of the state on Friday, making a stop at U.S. Southern Command to discuss his administration's efforts to combat drug trafficking while also giving remarks about re-opening the country amid the pandemic. The president also met with Florida-based Venezuelan and Cuban leaders during a roundtable discussion at a worship center in Doral, where he told the group that Biden and "the radical left" are imposing socialism in America. "Biden is a puppet of Bernie Sanders, AOC, the militant left, the people that want to rip down statues and monuments to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Jesus, okay? Jesus, they want to rip down statues to Jesus," Mr. Trump said during the discussion. "Nobody will be safe in a Biden America." The president continued, saying that Biden "wants to defund the police," which he insisted would leave "every citizen at the mercy of a socialist mob or a mob far worse than socialism was ever meant to be."

CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell notes that this meeting comes just weeks after Mr. Trump received backlash for indicating that he would be open to meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, a remark he later said in a tweet he would only meet with Maduro to discuss "a peaceful exit from power." At the time, CBS Miami reported that South Florida leaders strongly criticized the notion of meeting with Maduro, with Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez of Miami-Dade saying in a statement that "diplomatic meetings with [Maduro] will do nothing to help the Venezuelan people to establish a democracy." Trump Victory said in part in a statement Friday that "Floridians know that under President Trump, America will never become a socialist country." But during a roundtable with Venezuelan and Cuban leaders organized by the Florida Democratic Party on Friday, Dr. Frank Mora, who is Cuban American and the former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere, said the president has shown "repeated examples of failure because of an incoherent strategy — not just toward Venezuela, not just toward Cuba, but toward the region and the world."

Mr. Trump is scheduled to wrap this Florida visit with a fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale, which is expected to bring in millions. Richard DeNapoli, state committeeman for the Broward Republican Party, told Mitchell that Broward County is an important component of the president's fundraising in the state because some of his largest fundraisers have been in the Tri-county area. In Broward, a Democratic-majority county, there are more than 250,000 registered Republicans. "Even though Republicans may be outnumbered, it is still a vital component to keeping Florida red," said DeNapoli. Friday evening's fundraiser comes on the heels of a New York Times report that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis directed his top fundraiser to dissuade donors from contributing to the upcoming Republican National Convention in Jacksonville due to a personal dispute between DeSantis and his former campaign manager, who is now serving as an informal adviser to the convention planners. During a press conference on Friday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry told reporters he doesn't believe there's any truth to the report.

VEEPSTAKES

ELIZABETH WARREN

Senator Elizabeth Warren helped Biden form his Build Back Better manufacturing plan, the former Vice President said in an email to the Warren-aligned Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). "I am grateful to so many – including my friend Elizabeth Warren, labor unions, and other progressive partners for their help in putting together this bold new set of policies," Biden wrote in a letter the PCCC released Friday, according to CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. Portions of Biden's proposal, which he announced the day before, echo plans Warren released during her own presidential campaign, including an increase in government spending on U.S.-made products. Thursday evening on CNN, Chris Cuomo asked Warren whether she had helped Biden form his plan. "I'm glad to talk to anyone about it, and Biden's team is a smart economic team. We've had a lot of back and forth. But understand, these are the plans that the vice president has has embraced because it's his vision."

ISSUES THAT MATTER

VOTING RIGHTS

Potential vice presidential pick and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams will be the first guest on a new podcast coming out next Thursday, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar reports. The podcast, "Vote!" is a new project from Andrea Hailey and Kat Calvin, two prominent voices in voting rights and elections. Hailey, executive director of Vote.org, and Calvin, executive director of Spread the Vote, will aim to answer questions about voting in a public health pandemic while featuring politicians, activists, and politically engaged celebrities. CBS News political unit intern Isabella Laufer reports that for the next few months, Spread the Vote will focus on all aspects of the voting process that comes after registration. "In most states, registering to vote is not a challenge," Calvin said in an interview with CBS News. "But every other step from that is really hard," she added. One challenge that Calvin is concerned about, she said, is that voters in many states don't know they'll need some form of an identification to vote by mail in the fall. At least 20 states require some form of ID to either request or submit an mail-in ballot. North Carolina and Minnesota require mail-in ballots to be notarized or signed by witnesses. In Alabama, a lower court had ruled in favor of waiving requirements for voters like providing a photocopy of their ID, and signing their ballot by two witnesses or one notary, but last week the Supreme Court blocked that ruling. "A lot of people are going to be really surprised when they try to vote-by-mail this fall and it may be too late," Calvin said. In Wisconsin, a battleground state that Mr. Trump won by 22,748 votes, roughly 300,000 don't have proper identification. The state requires voters to send in a photocopy of the ID if they have not voted by mail before. Across the country, 21 million eligible voters don't have a valid ID, Calvin said. Spread the Vote will work specifically with low-income, under-served communities and individuals who are incarcerated or disabled in the months leading up to the November election. The organization is working with chaplains and counselors at over 100 jails across the country to help educate incarcerated individuals on mail-in voting. Calvin said there are "hundreds of thousands of people" who are in jail and unable to pay a bond but are still eligible to vote. "There are very few jails or prisons that actually make that easy and accessible," Calvin said, adding that Spread the Vote will help incarcerated individuals request and submit absentee ballots.

KEY CONSTITUENCIES

LATINO VOTERS

Mi Familia Vota announced this week that the organizing group would commit $10 million to a campaign "to turn out Latino voters" in Arizona and other battleground states against Mr. Trump. The Phoenix-based organization is the latest to pour resources into a key state Democrats hope to flip this fall, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin.  Another Phoenix-based group – Mijente – also launched this week a program to "funnel Latino organizing networks" into battleground states like Arizona.  "All eyes are going to be on Arizona and in this election, couldn't be more important," Senator Amy Klobuchar told Arizonans at a "virtual roundtable" on Friday.  Though still avoiding in-person campaigning amid the pandemic, the Biden campaign has ramped up their virtual events in the state, planning a "kickoff rally" with key female Arizona Democrats on Monday.

STRATEGY SESSION

VOTER OUTREACH

The Democratic National Committee announced the launch of the new voter file model that aims to raise productivity and efficiency of text message outreach for volunteers, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. The model will produce a score of the quality of cell phone numbers for text outreach that would help prevent volunteers from texting wrong or disconnected numbers. The new model is the latest effort by the DNC to ramp up its technology infrastructure and efforts ahead of the November general election.

STATE-BY-STATE

ARIZONA

As early voting kicked off this week in Arizona's primary, Republican challenger Daniel McCarthy says incumbent Senator Martha McSally has turned down repeated pleas for a debate, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. "Martha McSally will not beat Mark Kelly, she already lost one race to Kyrsten Sinema," McCarthy said in a radio ad up this week in Arizona. McSally, who was appointed to late Senator John McCain's seat in 2018 after losing another Senate race in Arizona the month before, has repeatedly polled behind her Democratic rival Mark Kelly for the hotly contested seat. This week, McSally also faced new criticism over an article she wrote while in graduate school about pregnancies in the military and proposed a proposed tax credit bill that Kelly denounced as "prioritizing taxpayer-funded vacations for wealthy Americans."

NEW MEXICO

Biden's campaign emailed supporters in New Mexico late Thursday touting "our first television ads in New Mexico and other battleground states." The campaign's paid media director Patrick Bonsignore cited "an incredible surge of grassroots donations" for the new buys. However, Kantar/CMAG data shows only Mr. Trump's campaign has yet to spend any money on New Mexico's airwaves for the November election, according to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. While the time a Republican presidential candidate last won New Mexico was more than a decade ago in 2004, Democrats in the state are facing criticism over a platform critics say would cripple the economy in the nation's third-largest oil-producing state

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

A handful of Q2 fundraising numbers from House campaigns dropped this week, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. Incumbent Democrats are continuing to see cash come in, with Representative Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico bringing in $1.1 million, Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan with $1.4 million and Representative Katie Porter of California with $2.5 million, the highest so far from anyone in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Frontline" program. South Carolina's Joe Cunningham, whose district is a top target for Republicans, brought in $862,633. His opponent, Nancy Mace, has not yet released any numbers.  Congresswoman Elaine Luria of Virginia has brought in $930,000 in her race against Scott Taylor, who this week found out he'd be able to file and keep his name on the November ballot. For Republican incumbents in targeted districts, Congressman Michael McCaul in Texas' 10th district brought in $645,000. His fellow Texas colleague Congressman Chip Roy, in the state's 21st district, raised $544,000. His Democratic opponent Wendy Davis is boasting $1.4 million raised in Q2. Nearby in Texas' 22nd open seat, Democrat Sri Kulkarni brought in $950,000, and has raised more than $2.4 million throughout the cycle. His campaign says this is higher than anything the seat's predecessor Tom DeLay, a former House Majority Leader, raised. Wesley Hunt, the Republican challenger to Democratic Representative Lizzie Fletcher in Texas' 7th, brought in more than $900,000 in the quarter and has $1 million cash on hand. In Pennsylvania's 1st district, Republican incumbent Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick brought in $455,000. In Harrisburg, Democrat Eugene DePasquale raised $630,000 in his challenge against Republican Representative Scott Perry in Pennsylvania's 10th district. Lastly, the two candidates in California's 25th district, which wrapped up a special election earlier this summer, are reporting their numbers. Republican Representative Mike Garcia, who won the special election for Katie Hill's old seat in May, reported $2.5 million raised in Q2, with $550,000 of that coming after the special election. Meanwhile, Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith raised $1.4 million in the quarter, with $314,000 after the special. 

IN THE SENATE

MICHIGAN

Senate candidate John James in Michigan is the latest challenger to announce strong fundraising numbers, but unlike the other top challengers, he's a Republican. As CBS News political unit associate producers Eleanor Watson and Sarah Ewall-Wice reported Wednesday, Democratic challengers in battleground races have brought in significant cash in the past three months despite the coronavirus. On Friday morning, James' campaign announced he raised $6.4 million in the most recent quarter in his bid to take on Democratic Senator Gary Peters. Peters' campaign announced he raised $5.2 million which is his best quarter yet but behind James for the fourth quarter in a row. The Peters' campaign also announced it has over $12 million cash on hand. James' campaign didn't include the cash on hand figure in its Friday announcement. The Cook Political Report rates this seat as leaning Democratic.

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