PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has tweeted just five times from Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda — but one of them was pushing Congress to strike a Covid relief bill. “OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE. Thank you!”
THIS IS AS FAR AS HE’S LEANED IN to this process, and it would appear that now Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN is heavily incentivized to get a Covid relief deal. TRUMP wants to show that he’s working. And MNUCHIN — already eager for a deal — is now on the hook to deliver.
IT’S NOT THAT EASY. MNUCHIN and Speaker NANCY PELOSI are still haggling over state and local funding and enhanced unemployment insurance — the same issues they’ve been haggling over for months. PELOSI wants a $2 trillion package, and the White House has indicated it’s much more comfortable in the $1 trillion range.
BUT ISN’T IT TIME FOR MNUCHIN to throw Republicans under a speedily moving bus, and dare GOP lawmakers to oppose TRUMP while he’s in the hospital? If TRUMP wants a massive, multitrillion-dollar bill, isn’t this the time to give him one?
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL won’t put a bill on the floor unless it has the majority of his Republican conference, sources say, and TRUMP would have to push them to give him a victory while he’s laid up in Walter Reed.
TIME WILL BE INCREDIBLY TIGHT. Even if a deal comes together this week — exceedingly far from a certainty — the Senate won’t be back in session until Oct. 19. That’s two weeks from now.
AND THERE ARE 30 DAYS until Election Day. JOE BIDEN’S campaign called a lid at 9:16 a.m.
NEW … WSJ/NBC POLL, via WSJ’s AARON ZITNER: “Biden, the Democratic nominee, leads the president, 53% to 39%, among registered voters in the new poll, which was conducted in the two days following the debate but before news emerged that Mr. Trump had tested positive for Covid-19. Mr. Biden’s 14-point lead compares with an 8-point advantage last month and 11 points in July, which was his largest of the campaign at that time.”
— ABC NEWS/IPSOS POLL, via ABC’s ADAM KELSEY: “[N]early 3 out of every 4 Americans doubt that he took seriously the threat posed to his well-being nor the steps necessary to avoid contracting the virus, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday. In two separate questions, an identical 72% said that Trump did not take the ‘risk of contracting the virus seriously enough,’ nor ‘the appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health.’ The poll was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel on Friday and Saturday, following Trump’s positive test early Friday morning.”
— “Trump and Biden even in Ohio, as Biden leads in Pennsylvania — Battleground Tracker poll,” by CBS’ Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna and Elena Cox
FLASHBACK … OCT. 10, 2016: “Poll: Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 14 points nationally”
WHAT AMERICA IS READING … THE NATION’S FRONT PAGES: Arizona Republic: “Trump’s prognosis murky” … Los Angeles Times: “Questions on the president’s illness persist” … San Diego Union-Tribune: “MIXED MESSAGES ABOUT TRUMP’S HEALTH” … Hartford Courant: “‘Critical’ two days loom for Trump”” … Tampa Bay Times: “Reports conflict on Trump health”
NATIONAL FRONTS: NYT (banner headline): “CONFUSION AND CONCERN AS PRESIDENT AILS” … WaPo: “White House muddles message on Trump’s health”
THE LATEST VERSION OF TRUMP’S HEALTH … “Trump’s Symptoms Described as ‘Very Concerning’ Even as Doctors Offer Rosier Picture,” by NYT’s Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: “The White House offered a barrage of conflicting messages and contradictory accounts about President Trump’s health on Saturday as he remained hospitalized with the coronavirus for a second night and the outbreak spread to a wider swath of his aides and allies.
“Just minutes after the president’s doctors painted a rosy picture of his condition on television, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, gave reporters outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center a far more sober assessment off camera, calling Mr. Trump’s vital signs worrisome and warning that the next two days would be pivotal to the outcome of the illness. ‘The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,’ Mr. Meadows told the reporters, asking not to be identified by name. ‘We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.’
“In keeping with the ground rules he had set, Mr. Meadows’s remarks were attributed, in a pool report sent to White House journalists, to a person familiar with the president’s health. But a video posted online captured Mr. Meadows approaching the pool reporters outside Walter Reed after the doctors’ televised briefing and asking to speak off the record, making it clear who the unnamed source was.
“The comments infuriated the president, according to people close to the situation, and he intervened directly to counter the perception that he was sicker than the White House had admitted. Within hours, he posted a message on Twitter saying, ‘I am feeling well!’ and called his friend and personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to have him convey a message to the outside world. ‘I’m going to beat this,’ Mr. Trump told him.”
LATER … MEADOWS on FOX NEWS on Saturday night: “He is doing extremely well. In fact, I’m very, very optimistic, based on the current results. And as the doctor said, he’s not out of the woods. The next 48 hours or so, with the history of this virus, we know, can be tough. And — but he’s made unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning, when I know a number of us, the doctor and I, were very concerned.”
— TRUMP on Twitter at 6:51 p.m.: “I came here. Wasn’t feeling so well. I feel much better now. We’re working hard to get me all the way back. … I think I’ll be back soon. I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started and the way we’ve been doing. The kind of numbers we’ve been doing, we’ve been so proud of it. … We’re going to beat this coronavirus, or whatever you want to call it.” Full video
AS TRUMP ENTERS HIS THIRD DAY IN THE HOSPITAL: STEVE CORTES, Trump campaign adviser, on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” told CHRIS WALLACE that the president is “in exceptionally good spirits.” He also said Trump was “upbeat and assertive as he’s ever been” in a call with senior campaign staff. Cortes and Wallace also got into a back and forth over the debate
BIG PICTURE — AP: “The changing, and at times contradictory, accounts created a credibility crisis for the White House at a crucial moment, with the president’s health and the nation’s leadership on the line. With Trump expected to remain hospitalized several more days and the presidential election looming, his condition is being anxiously watched by Americans.
“Moreover, the president’s health represents a national security issue of paramount importance not only to the functions of the U.S. government but also to countries around the world, friendly and otherwise.”
Good Sunday morning.
PELOSI said on CBS’ “FACE THE NATION” she is respectful of those who want universal testing on Capitol Hill, but she’s sticking with the attending physician, who has not recommended that yet.
HMM — “Little evidence that White House has offered contact tracing, guidance to hundreds potentially exposed,” by WaPo’s Josh Dawsey, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Joel Achenbach: “Hours before President Trump tested positive for the novel coronavirus and just one day before he was admitted to the hospital, he mingled with more than 200 people at his New Jersey golf club for a campaign fundraiser.
“Less than a week before that, he welcomed 150 political allies and religious leaders — including several who are now infected — to the White House to meet the jurist he has nominated to the Supreme Court. In between, the president met with dozens of aides without wearing a mask — even in close quarters and after top aide Hope Hicks had tested positive. He appeared before thousands at a rally in Minnesota. And he held a nationally televised debate with former vice president Joe Biden after holing up with debate preppers.
“But there was little evidence on Saturday that the White House or the campaign had reached out to these potentially exposed people, or even circulated guidance to the rattled staffers within the White House complex.”
— NYT INTERACTIVE: “Inside the White House Event Now Under Covid Scrutiny”
— NEW POSITIVE TESTS in Trump world: CHRIS CHRISTIE … NICK LUNA, the president’s body man.
— OHIO GOV. MIKE DEWINE told JAKE TAPPER on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION” that the White House has not been in touch with him about contact tracing. “They have not reached out to me. Now, I know that I talked to the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic the other day, who gave me an update, gave me a report. So, I don’t know whether they have reached out to the Cleveland Clinic or not. They have not talked to me about it, no.”
ON THE TRAIL … MARC CAPUTO: “Biden looks to seal election after Trump’s week from hell”: “Joe Biden is on the campaign trail. Donald Trump is in the hospital. In a role reversal, the president who mocked his rival for being weak and hiding ‘in his basement’ is stuck in isolation under doctors’ supervision while Biden jets off to states like Michigan on Friday and Florida on Monday, with the battleground map all to himself.
“It’s a contrast the Biden campaign intends to sharpen as long as Trump is sidelined from coronavirus. Only a month remains until Election Day, and a record 3.2 million Americans already cast early ballots in 21 states, with Democrats out-voting Republicans so far. ‘There is no reason not to show the country that, yes, you can go about your business — if you do it safely, if you wear masks, if you socially distance,’ Biden adviser Anita Dunn told POLITICO. ‘The vice president has talked about this since March.’
“The Biden campaign, under strict orders from the candidate to not speak ill of Trump personally while he’s in the hospital, announced it was pulling its negative ads out of respect to the president, though some still aired on stations that didn’t take them down quickly enough. The positive-ad announcement had an ulterior motive, another Biden adviser acknowledged: To pivot to the closing argument stage of the campaign, in which the Democrat tries to rally voters with an uplifting case for change. Besides, that adviser said, Biden doesn’t need to say much about Trump’s struggles to contain coronavirus because, now that the president is hospitalized for it, it’s obvious.” POLITICO
— “With Trump Sidelined, His Campaign Promises MAGA as Usual,” by NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni: “The Trump campaign is not changing its advertising or messaging, even with the candidate in the hospital. The political operation is not bereft of leaders; the campaign manager is still helping run things from afar after testing positive for the virus. Advisers are not showing any evidence of worry, despite public polls showing President Trump still behind in key states he won in 2016.
“On the first weekend of the new Trump political reality, the overarching signals were about continuity and resolve, even though the landscape was one of change: rallies canceled in Wisconsin, fund-raising reworked without the incumbent candidate and campaign operations adjusting on the fly.
“At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence held a call with the Trump-Pence re-election staff nationwide, trying to rally the troops and lay out the plans for the coming weeks. Despite the almost unthinkable circumstances for a campaign whose fund-raising, events and political pitches have all been driven by the president himself, Mr. Pence tried to signal that the campaign was trying to proceed as if little has changed.”
FULL STEAM AHEAD … JASON MILLER told CHUCK TODD on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS” that the campaign is pressing forward and doesn’t want to hold remote debates. “No, we’re in a campaign. We have a month to go. We see Joe Biden and Kamala Harris out there campaigning. Certainly, they’re not asking for remote debate. Vice President Pence is following the debate for the vice presidential candidates on Wednesday.
“He’ll be hitting the trail in Arizona, will probably be in Nevada, he’ll be back here in D.C., and he’s going to have a very full, aggressive schedule as well as the first family, Don, Eric, Ivanka. And we have a number of our supporters, our coalitions: Black Voices for Trump, Latinos for Trump, Women for Trump. The whole operation MAGA will be deploying everywhere.”
— ON BIDEN’S MASK USE: MILLER, on with GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on ABC’S “THIS WEEK,” said: “I think too often he’s used the mask as a prop. A mask is very important, but even if he’s — he could be 20, 30 feet away from the nearest person and still have the mask on. That’s not going to change anything that’s out there. But, also, we’ve seen with Joe Biden, I mean, we can’t all just stay in our basement for the rest of our lives. We have to get out there and live our lives and take this on, develop the vaccine, develop more therapeutics and defeat it.”
BIDEN deputy campaign manager KATE BEDINGFIELD spoke to STEPHANOPOULOS and responded to Miller’s mask claim: “I think that tells you a lot of what you need to know about how the Trump campaign has treated this from the outset. Joe Biden believes that the words of a president matter, that the actions of a president matter. From the outset, he has taken this seriously. He has encouraged Americans to wear masks to protect each other. You heard him say that in that clip you played right before we started here.”
HOW THE COURT WILL PLAY — “Vulnerable Republicans seek lifeline from SCOTUS hearings,” by Marianne LeVine: “Amy Coney Barrett will be grilled during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings. But four Republican senators may have the most on the line. The upcoming hearings could give Sens. Thom Tillis, Joni Ernst, John Cornyn and Lindsey Graham a chance to garner national attention in the midst of their competitive races — providing them a significant platform while they are pulled off the campaign trail for official Senate business.
“But developments since President Donald Trump and a handful of key GOP senators tested positive for coronavirus also raise questions about how these endangered lawmakers will handle the hearing. Since Friday, Tillis and Sen. Mike Lee — another Judiciary panel member — have tested positive for COVID-19 and will quarantine for 10 days. The Judiciary Committee does not intend to delay the proceedings, which are slated to begin Oct. 12, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested Saturday that the hearings could be at least partly remote.
“With the Senate GOP majority in peril, Republicans view the Supreme Court confirmation fight as an opportunity to energize conservative voters, particularly as Trump lags behind Joe Biden in most national polls and faces criticism for his response to the coronavirus crisis. Unlike previous confirmation hearings, this one is taking place just weeks before Election Day on an uncharacteristically fast timeline. Public polling suggests that the majority of Americans want the Supreme Court seat filled after the election.” POLITICO
— SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-Minn.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told WALLACE on “Fox News Sunday” that the confirmation hearings should be in person. “That doesn’t mean the virtual option wouldn’t be available … Why would you run this through, when we don’t even have a Covid package done to make sure that people have health care, that we have the testing I just talked about, that we have the funding for that the Senate Republicans have been resisting this while Nancy Pelosi has been valiantly working on it, and the White House now claims they want a package.
“Why would [you] be doing this, instead of actually be helping the American people? So that’s why I think it is so important that that’s what we do instead of ramming through a Supreme Court justice — wait until after the election for safety, better for the country.”
TRUMP’S SUNDAY — The president has nothing on his public schedule.
SNL COLD OPEN — JIM CARREY made his debut as BIDEN on Saturday night. Watch
BATTLE FOR THE SENATE — “Graham, Harrison spar over SCOTUS and Covid-19 in fiery Senate debate,” by James Arkin: “Jaime Harrison and Lindsey Graham have been battling it out over the airwaves for months. On Saturday night, as the surprisingly competitive South Carolina Senate race has reached a fever pitch, they finally met face-to-face on the debate stage. Harrison accused Graham of flip flopping on his word and breaking the trust of his voters. Graham, the three-term GOP incumbent, warned South Carolinians they wouldn’t recognize their country if Democrats took control in Washington.
“Those two arguments took center stage in a fiery debate held one month before Election Day. The two disagreed on Covid-19 response, the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation fight Graham will head, and police reform, among a host of other issues — including the flood of TV ads unleashed on the state, thanks to Harrison’s prodigious fundraising and the late involvement of super PACs from both parties in a race that is unexpectedly competitive.
“That South Carolina is being actively contested this close to the election is an alarm bell for Republicans about the state of their majority, as they are forced to defend a deep-red state that was not expected to be up for grabs while Democrats fight to flip the chamber.” POLITICO
— IN IOWA: “Ernst, Greenfield debate health care, pandemic response as early voting nears,” by Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel
— IN VIRGINIA: “Warner, GOP challenger Gade trade attacks on racial justice issues in second debate,” by WaPo’s Meagan Flynn
WAPO’S BOB COSTA and JOSH DAWSEY: “As virus spreads across GOP ranks, some Republicans say party will pay price for ‘stupid’ approach”: “After months in which Trump and others in his party questioned the danger of the virus and refused to take precautions such as wearing masks, the Republican Party is now coming face to face with the scientific realities of the pandemic.
“The drip-drip-drip of positive tests, coupled with the specter of a president who as of Saturday was ‘not on a clear path to a full recovery,’ as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows put it, has prompted some Republicans to question whether the party is responsible for its own potential undoing. And it has left them wondering how to wage a strong closing campaign when the judgment, actions and competence of its leaders were so squarely at issue just as voting is getting underway across the country.
“‘There was a panic before this started, but now we’re sort of the stupid party,’ said Edward J. Rollins, co-chairman of the pro-Trump super PAC Great America. ‘Candidates are being forced to defend themselves every day on whether they agree with this or that, in terms of what the president did on the virus.’”
THE POPE SPEAKS — “Pope: Market capitalism has failed in pandemic, needs reform,” by AP’s Nicole Winfield in Rome: “Pope Francis says the coronavirus pandemic has proven that the “magic theories” of market capitalism have failed and that the world needs a new type of politics that promotes dialogue and solidarity and rejects war at all costs. Francis on Sunday laid out his vision for a post-COVID world by uniting the core elements of his social teachings into a new encyclical, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ (Brothers All), which was released on the feast day of his namesake, the peace-loving St. Francis of Assisi.
“The document draws its inspiration from the teachings of St. Francis and the pope’s previous preaching on the injustices of the global economy and its destruction of the planet and pairs them with his call for greater human solidarity to address today’s problems. In the encyclical, Francis rejected even the Catholic Church’s own doctrine justifying war as a means of legitimate defense, saying it had been too broadly applied over the centuries and was no longer viable.” AP
VALLEY TALK — “The Stock Market’s Leaders Appear Most Vulnerable to Biden’s Tax Plan,” by WSJ’s Karen Langley: “Major U.S. technology stocks look vulnerable to a corporate-tax increase that might result from a Democratic sweep in November, potentially undermining one of the strongest drivers of the market’s recovery this year.
“Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, imposing a new minimum tax on U.S. companies and increasing taxes on foreign income of many U.S.-based multinationals, among other plans. Together, the tax proposals would reduce expected earnings among companies in the S&P 500 by 9.2%, according to estimates from BofA Global Research. And the pain would be more acute in some sectors than others.
“Mr. Biden’s tax plan would lead to estimated double-digit percentage declines in profits for the information-technology, communication-services and consumer-discretionary sectors, BofA’s analysis found. Those groups, which are leading the charge in the S&P 500 this year, are home to Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Google parent Alphabet Inc., Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.” WSJ
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IN MEMORIAM — AP/PROVIDENCE, R.I.: “Ex-AP, Baltimore Sun reporter Erika Niedowski dies at 46”: “At AP, Niedowski was an acting correspondent and reporter in Providence from 2011-2014, anchoring coverage of the Rhode Island Statehouse. … Prior to joining AP, Niedowski was web editor for The Hill and a foreign correspondent in Moscow for The Baltimore Sun, where she was a 2004 finalist for a Pulitzer in explanatory reporting on medical mistakes. She also worked at Congressional Quarterly, Washington City Paper and The National in the United Arab Emirates, among other publications.”
ENGAGED — Andrew Schreyer, national director of operations for the Biden campaign, proposed to Zeppa Kreager, get out the vote adviser and former chief of staff for the Biden campaign. They got engaged at home and celebrated with outdoor steak frites at the Good King Tavern in Philly. They met at a party the night she moved to New York City in 2017.
WEEKEND WEDDING — Alex Angelson, a principal at Michael Best Strategies and a Trump White House alum, and Rebecca Card, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), recently got married surrounded by their immediate families in Chatham, Mass. They plan to celebrate their union in the Greek Orthodox Church with extended family and friends next year. Pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Kevin Sheridan, founding partner of Protean Public Affairs, and Erika Sheridan, director of marketing at Compass, welcomed Alexandra Paola Sheridan on Thursday. She’s their second daughter.
— Meghan O’Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick professor of international affairs at Harvard Kennedy School and North American chair of the Trilateral Commission, and Arnaud Jacques Lacoste, head of cell and gene therapies at Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, welcomed Margaux O’Sullivan Lacoste on Sept. 27.
BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) is 4-0 … Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is 38 … Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) is 34 … Katie Miller and Katie Purucker of VP Mike Pence’s office … Norm Pearlstine, executive editor of the L.A. Times, is 78 … former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is 74 … retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen is 74 … Brynne Craig, campaign manager of Beyond Carbon … Mirian Saez (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Sonya McNair … Pervaiz Shallwani, senior investigative-enterprise editor at CNN … Todd Malan … AP’s Holly Ramer … Patrick Wilson … Kelsi Daniell, comms director for Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) … Annie Osborne … ABC’s Santina Leuci … Dana Mayber … Bill Gray … Rob Shapiro … Sean Hackbarth, senior director of digital content at the U.S. Chamber … Wes McClelland … Scott J. Frein … Liz Wolgemuth of the Senate HELP Committee … Drew Willison … Edelman’s Trisha Pascale … National Journal’s Brian Dabbs …
… Steve Capus … Pete Davis … Bridget Reed Morawski, reporter at S&P Global Market Intelligence … Tim Sparapani is 46 … Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior counselor at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society … Ryan Donmoyer … Francis Kruszewski, senior director of human health and safety at the American Cleaning Institute (h/t Brian Sansoni) … Ted Miller … Charlotte Clay, media relations manager at the Museum of the Bible … Chris Simmons, associate VP and chief lobbyist for Duke University, is 5-0 (h/ts Mike Schoenfeld and Jeff Harris) … Miles Halpine, comms officer for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate … Maria Carrillo … Melvin Steinberg is 87 … Annu Subramanian … J Strategies’ Francisca Cruz … Chris Walton … Eliza Adelson … Rachel Berman … Nick Binzoni … Ronald Tschetter … BBC’s Kasia Madera … Elizabeth Bonner … Julianna Rennie … Dane Waters … Paul Seymour