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McCarthy seeks thaw with Trump as GOP rallies behind former president

Two weeks after Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House’s top Republican, angered Donald J. Trump by saying he held the former president responsible for the violent mob attack on Capitol Hill, the two men stood together. are met on Thursday for what the assistants described as cordial “and sought to present a united front.

The meeting at Mr. Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., Came two weeks after Mr. McCarthy, in a speech to the House, said the former president “bears responsibility” for the events of the January 6, when a crowd of his supporters stormed the Capitol after a rally in which Mr. Trump urged them to “fight like hell” against his electoral defeat.

It was the latest evidence that top Republicans, many of whom had harshly criticized Mr. Trump after the assault, quickly got back in line behind him and wooing his support as he faces a second impeachment trial .

While Mr. McCarthy, a California Republican, voted against the impeachment article, Mr. Trump was enraged at the speech he gave just before he did so, advisers said.

Since then, aides to the two have tried to cause a thaw between the two, even as Mr. Trump has targeted other Republicans who criticized him more harshly for his role in the Capitol breach and voted in favor of his dismissal. Among them were Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Republican No.3, who joined nine other party members who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for “incitement to insurgency.”

Mr Trump’s advisers have sought to highlight his remaining popularity with Republican voters as the Senate trial is expected to begin in less than two weeks. All but five Republicans voted Tuesday to dismiss the impeachment case against him as unconstitutional, reflecting how reluctant members of his party are to abandon Mr. Trump even after he leaves.

On Thursday, aides posted a photo of Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Trump posing together in one of the ornate rooms at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club, and issued a statement calling the meeting “very good. and cordial ”. The statement bore the hallmarks of Mr Trump’s explosive and often false claims about himself, wrongly claiming that “his popularity has never been as strong as it is today.”

“His approval means more than maybe any approval at any time,” added the statement, issued by Mr. Trump’s Save America Political Action Committee, saying Mr. Trump had agreed to work with Mr. McCarthy to try to resume the House. majority in 2022.

Mr. McCarthy’s own statement was visibly less focused on Mr. Trump personally and more on the broader effort to win Republican seats in the House.

“Today, President Trump pledged to help Republicans elected to the House and Senate in 2022,” McCarthy said, adding, “A united conservative movement will strengthen the bonds of our citizens and uphold freedoms on which our country was founded. ”

Their meeting came shortly before an ally of Mr. Trump, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, made an appearance in Wyoming to attack Ms. Cheney for her vote to impeach Mr. Trump. Mr McCarthy was already in Florida on a fundraising trip, and the meeting was added to his schedule, officials said.

Mr McCarthy, people close to him have said, has come under attack from almost all sides as members of his caucus who are allies of Mr Trump have pushed to fight harder to defend him. After the speech that angered Mr. Trump, Mr. McCarthy tempered his criticism, saying he did not believe the former president had “provoked” the attack on Capitol Hill, and that if Mr. Trump wore “some responsibility, “” everyone across this country. “

Mr McCarthy has made no secret of his desire to be president, which could happen if Republicans get the House back.

And his party is now in the unstable position of having a de facto leader in Mr. Trump, whose approval rating among all Americans is low, but who remains popular with a majority of his voters.

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Stanford study seeks to quantify infections resulting from Trump rallies

WASHINGTON – A group of economists at Stanford University who created a statistical model estimate there were at least 30,000 coronavirus infections and 700 deaths following 18 campaign rallies President Trump held in June to September.

The figures, which will surely rekindle accusations by Democratic leaders and public health officials that the president is putting voters at risk for political gain, are not based on individual cases directly linked to particular campaign events.

Instead, Stanford researchers, led by Professor B. Douglas Bernheim, chairman of the university’s economics department, conducted a regression analysis. They compared the 18 counties where Mr. Trump held rallies with up to 200 counties with similar demographics and similar trajectories of confirmed Covid-19 cases before the rally date.

The events took place from June 20 to September 12; only the first two – in Tulsa, Okla., and Phoenix – were held indoors. The president has held about three dozen more rallies since the study ended in September.

Based on their models, the researchers concluded that on average, the 18 events produced increases in confirmed cases of more than 250 per 100,000 population. Extrapolating that figure to the 18 rallies, they concluded that the rallies ultimately resulted in more than 30,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and that the rallies “likely led to over 700 deaths”, although those deaths would not have happened. necessarily produced only among participants.

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The article, published on academic websites and on Twitter by its authors a few days before the presidential election, is likely to be controversial. Public health officials in states and counties where Trump has held rallies said in interviews this week that it was impossible to link particular infections or outbreaks to the rallies for several reasons: the number of cases are increasing overall, gathering participants often travel to other locations, contact tracing is not always complete, and contact tracers do not always know the whereabouts of infected people.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, dismissed the study as “a political model based on flawed assumptions and intended to shame Trump supporters.”

“As the president said, the cure cannot be worse than the disease,” Deere said in a statement on Saturday. “This country must be open armed with best practices and the freedom of choice to limit the spread of Covid-19.”

The study is a “working paper” and has yet to go through peer review, Professor Bernheim said in an interview on Saturday. He said it was common practice for economists to publish their work online before submitting it to an academic journal so that other experts could comment. He said politics was not the motivation.

“The motivation for this document,” he said, “is that there is a raging debate about the trade-off between the economic consequences of restrictions and the health consequences of transmission, and as an economist. , I consider this debate to be both important and appropriate. “

Since the president resumed holding political rallies in June, he has faced fierce criticism of them. Public health officials in Tulsa, the site of the first rally, said a subsequent increase in coronavirus cases was most likely linked to it.

Just over two weeks after the event, Tulsa recorded 206 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in a single day, a record high at the time. Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate, died of Covid-19 after attending the rally, although it is impossible to know if he was infected there.

State and local public health officials across the country have also questioned whether Mr. Trump’s gatherings have become so-called mass market events. With thousands of people gathered nearby, many of whom are not wearing masks, the gatherings provide a fertile environment for the virus to spread.

In Minnesota, for example, state officials traced 16 coronavirus infections and two hospitalizations at a Trump rally on September 18 in the town of Bemidji, Beltrami County. Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent Joseph R. Biden Jr., who wears masks and encourages his supporters to do so, ran his own campaign even that same day in Duluth; this resulted in a coronavirus infection, but no hospitalization.

But Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health, said the full extent of the spread that resulted from these cases was difficult to quantify, as many people who develop Covid-19 are asymptomatic or have symptoms and do not seek treatment, and even those who test positive may not respond to contact tracing requests.

“What we are seeing in Beltrami County are indicators of transmission, and that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg,” Schultz said in an email.

Many Trump supporters have complained that focusing on the risk posed by the president’s rallies ignores the risk posed by other large gatherings, such as the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. But Prof Bernheim said that because rallies are isolated events with a finite beginning and end, they are “more suitable events to study” than protests, which can take place over several days.

Assessing the risk of electoral rallies is “a noisy process,” said Professor Bernheim, and focusing on a single event is misleading. Her article noted that there had been similar and smaller analyzes – including one based on the Tulsa gathering that found no significant effects. But, he says, “measuring the average effect of treatment on multiple events, as in our study, produced more reliable results.”

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

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Red State Democrats Trump rallies: this week in the 2020 race

Welcome to our weekly review of the state of the 2020 campaign.

  • Joe Biden’s lead in national poll averages, including that of The Upshot, dipped slightly this week – barely declining less than 10 percentage points but seeming to remain stable there.

  • In national surveys published by both the New York Times / Siena College and Quinnipiac University, Mr. Biden led President Trump by two digits among both older and younger voters, a vivid example of how he muddied the standard political calculation.

  • A Montana Times / Siena poll released on Friday showed Mr. Trump was maintaining a six points lead there, and Senator Steve Daines, a pro-Trump Republican, appearing to steer clear of his Democratic challenger, Governor Steve Bullock. M. Daines headed by Three points in the closely watched race, a difference that is in the poll’s margin of error.

  • The Biden campaign made a lot more money in the bank than the Trump campaign in mid-October: $ 162 million at $ 43.6 million. The spread was $ 335 million to $ 223 million when all party funds are included.

President Trump did what his advisers wanted him to do in Thursday night’s debate, despite his lack of prep sessions: he didn’t interrupt former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and he calmed down. But with less than two weeks remaining in the race, and nearly 50 million votes already cast in the election, time for a reset that changes the dynamics of a race whose dynamics have not changed much since March. was dwindling. Most of the conversation on the debate stage was still about the president’s handling of the coronavirus, where he offered little new.

He accepted responsibility for the 220,000 lives lost, while deflecting all blame, all in the same breath. “I take full responsibility, but China brought him here,” he said. “It is not my fault.” He claimed that “2.2 million people modeled had to die,” a claim he often repeats but for which there is no clear support. Mr. Trump’s attempts to portray Mr. Biden as both corrupt and left-wing Trojan horse have failed (“he thinks he’s running against someone else,” Biden retorted at one point ). And the issue of law and order the president wanted to raise has diminished in most parts of the country since a summer of protests.

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As the end of the race neared, Mr. Trump only managed to make the election a referendum on himself: his response to the coronavirus, his tone and his tweets.

In North Carolina this week, Mr. Trump appeared in Gaston County, a reliable Republican county outside of Charlotte that has not received a visit from a general election candidate since President George HW Bush stopped there in 1992. In Florida, he visited villages. , the country’s largest retiree community that was part of its main constituency of older voters. In Wisconsin next week, Mr. Trump is expected to visit Waukesha, a county he won four years ago by his largest margin in the state.

  • He works hard to keep what he has His rally schedule indicates that his campaign has essentially left the suburbs of some battlefield states where he has bled support. “Everything we’ve seen of Trump politically, he’s always going back to his base,” said Doug Heye, former communications director for the Republican National Committee.

  • Trump believes in his own magic The president is ignoring all Covid-19 guidelines and is organizing large rallies in states where the number of positive cases is increasing. It’s kind of a repeat of his endgame strategy in 2016, when his advisers told him he wasn’t likely to win but held rallies until the end of the race. . He has since credited himself with crossing the finish line. The difference this time is that there hasn’t been an outside event yet – as James B. Comey, the former FBI Director, announcing new evidence related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation – to fundamentally change the course.

  • His advisers believe ground play could still get them through As Democrats have relied more on digital advertising, the Trump campaign has aggressively knocked on the door. Campaign assistants described the last few weeks of the campaign as “white punches” to the end, and said if a November 3 victory did materialize it would be because organizers were aggressively targeting them. voters in the battlefield states more than anything. Mr. Trump himself said on stage.

It is wrong to regard November 3 as election day. Millions of Americans have already voted, using methods like early voting or postal voting. In fact, amid the continued spread of the coronavirus, most experts believe this presidential election will feature more Americans voting out of the polls in person than ever before.

This reality has led to eye-catching poll totals in several states. However, projecting the early vote tally onto the election day results has been a trap of electoral analysis for years. Here are some things we know – and don’t know – based on the number of ballots that have already been cast.

  • The enthusiasm of the voters There is evidence that this presidential cycle will see increased participation compared to four years ago. Several states have already broken records for early voter turnout, including Georgia and North Carolina. In Texas, the populated Harris County of Harris is on the verge of surpassing its entire total of votes in 2016 for early voting alone – more than 1.3 million people. It comes as the rising turnout has been a hallmark of the election under Mr. Trump’s presidency, from midterm to lower ballot races. This speaks to a reality that has been true for Mr. Trump for years – he inspires fervent passion within his base, but also significant backlash.

  • Beware of projection Democrats should have voted more during the early voting process. That doesn’t mean a Democratic victory is assured by election day, however, as both parties expect Mr. Trump’s supporters to favor the in-person vote on November 3. regions and have longer wait times. It is also because Mr. Trump and the Republicans have spoken out against postal voting.

  • The system holds The worst fear of election observers was a voting system that could not handle the surge in activity and would fail. So far, the system has held up. In Georgia, initiatives such as converting a basketball arena into a socially remote polling station have been successful. Election day will be the biggest stress test of all, but the preparation has sent encouraging signs to electoral integrity officials.

Mr. Biden’s campaign has a clear path to victory by reversing Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan. However, the campaign is increasingly hearing calls from Democrats in states that were once considered distant, such as Georgia, Texas, Iowa and Ohio.

Mr. Biden’s campaign, however, has long argued that the race is closer than it looks in the polls, and that it should conserve resources for the must-see states. In recent days, however, there are signs of a late-game push by Democrats to states seen as surplus. In part, they are following the advice of some leading Democrats and major donor groups, who have argued with Mr. Biden’s campaign that a big win is needed to launch a transformative presidency. Here’s what you need to know about the Biden campaign strategy in the Dark Red States.

  • Don’t expect Biden himself Mr. Biden’s campaign sent several surrogates to Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas – including his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California. The campaign wants these surplus states to feel engaged and supported. However, the campaign will be remembered for how the Clinton campaign was mocked for caring more about harder-to-win states while neglecting major battlegrounds.

  • They have money Mr Biden is raising mind-boggling amounts, entering the final month of the campaign with more than a quarter of a billion dollars in hand. The campaign can afford to keep television commercials in Georgia while staging a blitz in Pennsylvania.

  • Senate control is at stake States like Georgia, Texas and Iowa may not be needed for Mr Biden to win the White House, but they are critical to whether Democrats will be able to take back the Senate. Mr Biden will be well aware of this importance, as much of former President Barack Obama’s agenda throughout his tenure has been blocked by a Republican Senate that has fought him at every turn. Senate races in Georgia, Texas and Iowa poll at close statistical ties. As Mr. Biden maintains a presence in those states, it is also to help these Democrats vote down.

  • Students can register to vote on their campus or in their hometown, leaving students with a strategic choice: their votes might be more likely to make a difference in a battlefield state or in a swing neighborhood.

  • Disinformation is even more rampant this election cycle than it was in 2016. Colorado has a new initiative that will run social media ads and expand digital reach to help voters identify foreign disinformation. . Very few states are following suit.

Shane Goldmacher, Isabella Grullón Paz and Giovanni Russonello contributed reporting.