Biden due to speak on pandemic at a post-debate rally

Biden set to lay out Covid-19 plans in Delaware speech

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is expected to set out how he plans to tackle the coronavirus pandemic when he delivers a speech in his home state of Delaware shortly.

During Thursday night’s debate, he repeated his criticism of President Trump’s response to the health crisis and promised to improve access to testing and listen to the advice of health officials and scientists.

With 11 days left until election day, here’s a reminder of some of the day’s most interesting stories:

About 51.5m votes have been cast so far, according to the US Election Project website, in places like Georgia and Florida – and from Earth’s orbit, where astronaut Kate Rubin just cast her vote at the International Space Station. Just like other absentee voters, as this Nasa release explains, an astronaut has to fill in an application to say they intend to vote from afar.

Very shortly after yesterday’s presidential debate ended, Ariana Grande dropped her new single and accompanying music video which showed her in the White House, surrounded by an all-female team. She is apparently a little bit conflicted because although she seems to have a big role in what looks to be the Oval Office, she also has work to do in the kitchen.

The debate about Joe Biden’s comments on oil in Thursday night’s debate is still raging. Biden said he would “transition from the oil industry”, whereupon Trump countered that the move would not be popular.

Trump gets a faraway endorsement

Donald Trump has just clocked an unusual endorsement – from Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Joe Biden would be “one of the weakest presidents in history,” Janša, a conservative accused of authoritarian tendencies, wrote on Twitter. “When a free world desperately needs a strong U.S. as never before. Go, win @Donald Trump.”

Foreign leaders watch US elections closely, but usually stay mum on endorsements – it would not bode well for relations if the other candidate wins. But this one does have a personal angle: Trump’s wife, First Lady Melania Trump, was born and raised in Slovenia, moving to the US in 1996.

But Trump doesn’t appear to be the favourite for all world leaders. In nearby Croatia, President Zoran Milanovic recently said he considered comparisons to Trump an “insult”.

They’re not the only leaders eyeing the US results.

White House introduces precautions for Halloween

First Lady Melania Trump has announced that the White House annual Halloween celebrations will take place this Sunday, but additional health measures have been put in place.

The event will be open to frontline workers, military families and schoolchildren, the White House said. Attendance will be limited and all guests over the age of two will be required to wear a face covering. Social distancing will also be enforced.

The rules are a stark contrast to an event at the White House less than a month ago, when President Trump announced his Supreme Court pick in front of a crowd of about 200 people. No social distancing measures were in place. Within days, Trump and his wife were among at least 11 people to test positive for coronavirus, in what top US virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci described as a “superspreader event”. The president spent several days in hospital but later recovered.

Debate aftermath: Independent voter’s verdict

Banner for BBC Voter Panelist Lesley Batson

BBCCopyright: BBC

Lesley was raised in Canada and became a US citizen in 2016. She is an independent, and will vote for Joe Biden.

What moment stood out to you in the debate?

In general, I felt like Trump wasn’t answering the questions. The one part that made my eyebrows raise was when he brought up Hillary Clinton. Why can’t he get past that and just lead the country?

If your candidate is defeated, what would it mean to you?

As a black person and an immigrant living in this country, things have shifted so much in the last four years. I literally have fear – for my life and people who look like me – if there’s another four years of Trump.

One word to describe Trump and Biden tonight?

Trump – predictable; Biden – predictable.

Debate night was a money maker says Trump campaign

Neither candidate had a runaway win last night, but the Trump campaign says it is celebrating a different type of victory: raising a whopping $26m (£20m) off the back of the performance.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said it was their biggest online fundraising night ever – exceeding any figure from the president’s 2016 campaign.

The cash may give a boost to Trump, who has been lagging behind Joe Biden in national polls and in fundraising. At the end of September, the president’s campaign reported $63m cash on hand, less than half of Biden’s $177.3m.

Debate aftermath: Republican voter’s verdict

BBC Voter Panelist Rom Solene

BBCCopyright: BBC

Rom is a military veteran who enthusiastically supports the president’s re-election.

What moment stood out in the debate to you?

For the most part, it was a dignified slugfest. The one moment that stood out was when Biden said he was going to give a pathway to 11 million people who are in the US illegally. We’ve got millions of unemployed Americans and I don’t think that’s going to sell very well.

If your candidate is defeated, what would it mean to you?

I will accept the results, however much I may dislike those results.I will take a dignified route as distasteful as it may be for me.

One word to describe Trump and Biden tonight?

Trump – improved; Biden – rehearsed.

Mike and Karen Pence vote in Indiana

The vice-president and second lady, Mike and Karen Pence, voted early on Friday in their home state of Indiana.

They voted in the Indianapolis City-County building using abstentee ballots they had requested last month.

The former Indiana governor told reporters: “It’s a great honor and great to be back home again.”

Why is it more difficult to vote this election?

Ladara, 30, from Seattle, Washington, asks: Why is it more difficult to vote this election?

The pandemic has made voting extra difficult this year. There are obvious health risks to crowding together at a polling station, so many states have expanded early voting, either in person or by mail.

But each state has its own rules and regulations about who is allowed to vote early, and how it should be done. In Pennsylvania, ballots must be “clothed” in a privacy envelope. In South Carolina, a witness must verify your ballot.

There are currently over 300 lawsuits in 44 states concerning how absentee votes are counted, who is allowed to vote early and how mail-in ballots are collected.

All these changes and legal battles can make things really confusing to the voter, and exacerbate long-standing issues, like long queues and long drives.

Trump campaign warned over filming voters

The Trump campaign has been warned after filming ballot boxes in the US state of Pennsylvania.

The campaign had set up video cameras at ballot drop boxes in Philadelphia, in what it said was an attempt to idenitify voting violations, according to the New York Times. In a formal complaint to city officials on 16 October, the campaign said it had recorded several instances of voters dropping off more than one mail-in vote.

However, the officials responded that they could not confirm whether or not the recorded incidents violated Pennsylvania’s law, which requires voters to deposit their own ballot in most cases, with exceptions made for people with disabilities or those who require assistance.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general, who is a Democrat, said this week that videotaping people depositing their ballots could amount to voter intimidation.

President Donald Trump has frequently claimed that postal voting leads to fraud. But numerous nationwide and state-level studies over the years have not revealed evidence of major, widespread misconduct.

Debate aftermath: Independent voter’s verdict

Noel is a dual UK-US citizen and undecided. Before the debate, he said he preferred Biden as a person but was more supportive of Trump’s policies.

What moment stood out in the debate to you?

There were two things. First, when Biden admitted policy mistakes in the past, which is very rare. Trump could probably learn a lesson from that. Second, Biden was completely wrong when he spoke about the minimum wage.

Did Trump or Biden do enough to win your vote tonight?

The debate did very little to help me. I am leaning more towards Trump after the debate because I didn’t like what Biden said about the economy.

One word to describe Trump and Biden tonight?

Trump – erratic; Biden – politician.

American pop star Ariana Grande has channeled the election mood – and dropped some hints to her fans.

While the lyrics “Positions” aren’t political, the video shows the singer as president in the Oval Office and in cabinet meetings.

The single was released after Thursday night’s debate and has already been viewed more than eight million times on YouTube and received 3.8 million likes on Instagram.

But the song is the closest the 27-year-old will be able to get to the presidency for some years yet – under US law, presidents must be at least 35.

Earlier in the campaign, Grande urged fans in her home state of Florida to register to vote before the deadline, adding: “Florida has the potential of swaying the election.”

The state later extended the registration deadline by a day after the online registration site crashed under a sudden surge in trafffic.

Russia blamed again – who does the Kremlin back?

Exactly four years ago – on 23 October 2016 – Russian state TV’s star anchor delivered an extraordinary monologue. Quoting Wikileaks and Mark Twain – what a combination! – the newsreader cited “proof” that the US presidential election was rigged against Donald Trump. He dismissed the vote as “neither free nor democratic, a mass of falsifications”.

The Russian state media had been openly backing Trump: newspapers here described Hillary Clinton as “a cursed witch” and “war-like and Russia-hating”. But Moscow seemed to have concluded that she was unassailable. So, in the run-up to election day Russian media (echoing candidate Trump) concentrated on questioning the legitimacy of the vote and predicting chaos in America.

Fast forward four years to reports of Russia hacking into US sites (denied by Moscow) and claims that the Kremlin is plotting to sow doubt about the integrity of the US election.

Familiar pattern? To an extent. But there are important differences. So far, no-one here has described Joe Biden as “a cursed wizard”. On the contrary, today the Russian government paper suggested that under Biden, American policy on Russia would be “more predictable” and criticised Trump for being “a weak president”.

This time round the Russian authorities appear to be hedging their bets, leaving the door open (possibly) to building a relationship with a Biden administration. I say “possibly”, because in the event of a disputed election and political and social upheaval in America, Moscow may calculate it has more to gain from seeing the US experience a prolonged period of chaos.

Who’s leading in the polls?

Joe Biden has been ahead of Donald Trump in most national polls since the start of the year. He has hovered around 50% in recent months and has had a 10-point lead on occasions.

The latest polls looking at key battleground states have put Trump slightly ahead of Joe Biden in Texas and Ohio – but the president has fallen far behind in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Among Texas respondents, 50% said they preferred Trump, compared to 46% who said they would vote for Biden.

In Michigan, however, 50% of likely voters said they preferred Biden, while 43% said they preferred Trump. In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Biden also led by five points.

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