USA-2020 The Rundown[email protected]

Biden vows to unify and save the country; Trump on busy rallies tour of Midwest, then both campaigns look west

It's the final stretch for the U.S. election campaign, with just under a week to go before polls close, though how soon a result will be known and even accepted is still to come.

Joe Biden traveled to the hot springs town in Georgia where Franklin Delano Roosevelt once coped with polio to declare the U.S. is not too politically diseased to overcome its health and economic crises. Biden pledged to be a unifying force who can “restore our soul and save this country,” Will Weissert, Alexandra Jaffe and Aamer Madhani report.  

Donald Trump focused on the Democrats’ “blue wall” states he flipped in 2016 — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. “This election is a matter of economic survival for Michigan,” the president said, arguing that the state's economy was strong before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Today, the presidential trail is shifting west as Trump campaigns in Arizona and stages a rally just across the Colorado River from neighboring Nevada. Trump narrowly lost Nevada in 2016 and is looking to deny  Biden, whose campaign has for months eyed the once reliably red Arizona as a prime candidate to flip.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will campaign in Arizona a day after making multiple Nevada stops. Both campaigns are trying to project that they are on offense and have the momentum with Election Day looming next week.

Voter Anxiety: Americans are justifiably worried about this election, an anxiety many haven't carried during years of largely peaceful displays of democracy. But Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and called for an army of “poll watchers” to monitor the vote. Rising gun sales have contributed to the worry. Elections officials and voting advocates are on high alert, including more trained to de-escalate confrontations. More people have already voted than the 58 million who cast early ballots in 2016, Laurie Kellman reports. 

AP FACT CHECK: Trump sees voting chaos that does not exist. He is falsely asserting that voting by mail is rife with problems across the country. But for the most part, the surge of early votes has been managed smoothly, Calvin Woodward reports.

Biden's Pandemic Plan: Should he win the White House, the former vice president is vowing to begin combating the virus before he even takes office. He says he'll use his two months as president-elect to work with governors on instituting a nationwide mask-wearing mandate and with Congress on a sweeping spending bill to address the impact of the pandemic. But Biden would still face significant political challenges in combating the worst public health crisis in a century. 

America Disrupted-Trump Voters: Trump’s campaign has a bold, hopeful theory for how he will win reelection: Tapping into millions of supporters who did not vote for him in 2016 but will do so this time. Supposedly, these voters are overlooked by polls that show Trump consistently trailing Biden. They are mostly the white working class from factory towns and farms that Trump has elevated to near-mythic status as the “forgotten Americans.”

This strategy will be tested in Pennsylvania, a critical state that Trump carried by only 44,292 votes out of 6.1 million cast in 2016. A Democratic surge of votes in cities and suburbs could quickly erase that narrow lead. To hold onto Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, Trump needs to prove that a hidden groundswell of supporters exists — and will vote. But the math behind the theory is tight. Trump’s plan requires blowout victories and historic turnout in conservative strongholds across the state. Josh Boak reports from Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, in the latest installment of the America Disrupted series.

Social Media CEOs: Twitter, Facebook and Google's CEOs are set to facing a grilling by Republican senators making unfounded allegations that the tech giants show anti-conservative bias. The Senate Commerce Committee has summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai to testify for a hearing today. They agreed to appear remotely after being threatened with subpoenas, Marcy Gordon reports. 

On US-Mexico border, virus pushes twin cities El Paso and Ciudad Juarez to the brink[email protected]

“We are like Siamese cities, You can’t cut El Paso without cutting Juarez, and you can’t cut Juarez without cutting El Paso,” says one resident of Mexico's Ciudad Juarez.

A record surge in coronavirus cases has pushed hospitals to the brink in the border cities, confronting health officials in Texas and Mexico with twin disasters in the metropolitan area of 3 million people, report Lisa Marie Pane and Acacia Coronado.

Health officials are blaming the spike on family gatherings, multiple generations living in the same households and people under 40 going out to shop or conduct business.

The crisis — part of a deadly comeback by the virus across the U.S. — has underscored how closely connected the two cities are economically, geographically and culturally, with lots of people routinely going back and forth across the border to shop or visit with family.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES Utility company in California was slow to pull the plug before latest wildfire erupted[email protected]

Facing extreme wildfire conditions this week that included hurricane-force winds, the main utility in Northern California cut power to nearly 1 million people while its counterpart in Southern California pulled the plug on just 30 customers to prevent power lines and other electrical equipment from sparking a blaze.


Pacific Gas & Electric Co. avoided major wildfires during its outage, while Southern California Edison is trying to determine if one of its power lines started a massive fire that drove nearly 100,000 people from their homes in Orange County during fierce winds and extremely dry conditions, report Brian Melley and Stefanie Dazio.


Those fires are still burning.

Venezuelans brave COVID-19 in broken hospitals to tend to stricken loved ones; Protests as Europeans tire of restrictions[email protected]

“You do everything you can in the name of love. If that person is your blood relative, you don’t even hesitate.”  

That's how a cafeteria worker in Venezuela’s capital describes what she and some of her compatriots are doing. She says it's the only way her elderly father will get the care he needs.  

Family members of patients sick with the coronavirus are risking their lives stepping inside a Venezuelan hospital to feed and bathe their loved ones, reports Scott Smith from Caracas. 

Venezuela suffers a shortage of nurses and doctors after years of collapse that's now exacerbated during the pandemic.


Europe Protests: Protesters clashed with police in downtown Rome during a day of demonstrations against virus-fighting measures that have closed restaurants and bars early and shut down gyms and swimming pools. Italy is not alone. Discontent with renewed restrictions aimed at stopping the surge of the virus is growing all over Europe as the continent grapples with how to act before its hospitals become overwhelmed again.


Nightly curfews have also been implemented in French cities. Schools have been closed in Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic. Yet governments are finding a less compliant public this time, even as the continent has seen over 250,000 confirmed deaths, Colleen Barry and Frances D'Emilio report.


Maskless PontiffPope Francis’ decision to forgo wearing a mask has been noticed, with concern, by Vatican experts he appointed to help chart the Catholic Church’s path through the pandemic. At age 83 and with part of his lung removed in his youth, Francis would be at high risk for complications if he were infected. One member of the pope’s COVID-19 commission said:  “He has started to use the mask now, And I hope he will use it in the general audiences, when he is close to the people. If you’re in an open space, we know that it’s different. But well, we are working on that." Nicole Winfield reports from Rome. 


Australia Lifting Lockdown: One coffee business owner in the country's second largest city pulled his van over and wept when he heard that Melbourne’s pandemic lockdown would be largely lifted after 111 days. His is among the 6,200 retail stores, 5,800 cafes and restaurants, 1,000 beauty salons and 800 pubs allowed to reopen today. Many businesses did not survive the lockdown, but those that did are seeing strong demand from pandemic-weary residents, Asanka Brendon Ratnayake and Rod McGuirk report. 


India: Voting has begun in the nation's third-largest state of Bihar, the first major election since the pandemic began and a test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity as he faces criticism on many fronts. India has registered nearly 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases, behind only the United States, even as daily infections have fallen by about half and deaths by about a third in recent weeks, Indrajit Singh reports.