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Did Washington just have a real weekend?

WASHINGTON – President Biden did nothing this weekend.

Well, let’s rephrase: President Biden did nothing alarming This weekend.

There were exactly eight tweets, each rooted in what can best be described as reality. There was a visit to spend time with a sick friend, Bob Dole, a former Republican senator. And there was a stop at church with the grandchildren.

Since Mr. Biden took office, the weekends have been portraits of domestic life – MarioKart with the kids at Camp David, bagels in Georgetown, and football in Delaware. Passionate about Peloton, he has not even played golf. Mr Biden’s obvious lack of interest in generating bold headlines only underscores how Trump’s waist-hole in Washington has created a sense of free time in all areas of the capital. Psychically, if not literally.

While the workload remains (it’s still Washington, after all), people still get a few hours’ sleep during the period formerly known as weekends.

“It went from working 24/7 to sort of not working at all in the blink of an eye,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, Democrat from California and one of the House directors who sued Donald J. Trump in his second indictment, about his first post. -hours of trial. “And it took a little while for my body and mind to calm down.

Mr. Lieu says he’s already back to work at full speed. Among other things, he is pushing for legislation that he says will be drafted to address loopholes Mr. Trump has exploited, including a bill that would create penalties for failure to respond to subpoenas from Congress. .

But first, watch excessively: On the Sunday after the trial ended, Mr. Lieu spent his first few hours without Trump watching episodes of “Snowpiercer.”

Mr Biden, who is focused on his $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, said he also wants to stop discussing Mr Trump. “I don’t want to talk about him anymore,” the president said last week at a CNN town hall in Wisconsin. The reality is a little different. Mr Biden has repeatedly referred to what he called failures of the Trump administration as he sought to gain public patience with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

There is a parallel in the news industry, where reporters covering this new version of Washington say they are ready to return to the type of journalism that does not involve deciphering a human mood ring. CNN and MSNBC, whose reporters and personalities have spent years challenging Mr. Trump’s policies, have quietly reduced the number of Trump-focused reporters working under contract in recent months.

Mr. Trump of course predicted that the political news complex would crumble without him. Members of this complex say they have some leeway to breathe and, most importantly, to plan.

“As the host of a weekly show, the glaring absence of presidential scandals on Twitter means that I can plan ahead with the hope that our plan will actually be implemented,” said Brian Stelter, a former New York Times reporter who hosts “Reliable Sources” on CNN. “Informally, we used to leave a five minute gap on my Sunday show, we expected some kind of big news to break out on Saturday night. Now, we no longer assume that will happen.

Other journalists welcome the renewed attention to politics.

“A linear policy-making process is always interesting,” Jake Sherman, a Politico veteran and founder of Punchbowl News, said of the relative return to normalcy brought by the Biden era. “When you’re convinced that a rotating cast of characters won’t change the course of the US government, that’s a heartwarming thought.”

New York magazine Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi said she was reconfiguring her relationship with the White House – in particular, the idea that the current president has little interest in undermining his own press officers and political experts .

This weekend, Ms Nuzzi said, she was also surprised to learn that Mr Biden had quietly gone to church. She realized how much she keeps tabs on Mr. Trump’s every move, just in case he turns the pulse news cycle upside down.

“It becomes clear, every day, how much of what happened during that trimester was related to how he was feeling,” Ms. Nuzzi said, “and how much of our day to day life has focused on trying. to understand how he felt. . “

Outside of the isolated worlds of politics and the news media, there is no normal to return to. Washingtonians who don’t have to hang on to every word from the president still struggle to adjust to life in a city where the Capitol and the White House have been essentially militarized and everyday life has been turned upside down. both by the coronavirus and civil unrest.

Amy Brandwein, chef and owner of Centrolina, watched brunches return to downtown on weekends, but she and other restaurateurs struggled for nearly a year to take over the business lost to the pandemic.

She also fears that the political unrest may continue. Ms Brandwein said her plan to install exterior bubble-shaped structures to provide a socially remote dining option was delayed due to violence at the Capitol on January 6. She estimates that she lost around $ 100,000 in business on the days she had to shut down due to the protests. which attracted the Proud Boys and other extremist groups.

Mr Trump may have left the capital, but she fears his supporters still endanger his employees and his business. “I wonder about the future security of downtown or in general in Washington,” she said, “because the Trump movement is still going on.”

As Washington staggers to its feet, it’s clear Mr. Trump is happy to visit the dreams of anyone who suddenly sleeps more.

He issued press releases through his post-presidential office whose targets included not only the entire Democratic Party but also Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. He has sat for interviews on Fox News, repeating disputed or bogus theories about his electoral loss that allies like Sean Hannity have refused to dispute.

And at Mar-a-Lago, his seaside fortress, Mr. Trump always expects a full crowd on the dinner patio to stand up and cheer, just like he did when he did. was in office.

Other Republicans have filled the void left by Mr. Trump’s diminished profile. Much of the past week has been devoted to Washington’s gossip class gathered around an old-fashioned political scandal as if it were a hot campfire: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas s fled to Cancún – Cancún! – as his constituents suffered in a snowstorm and a power outage. Cruz’s hug was perhaps the most glaring sign of a new political era: Mr. Trump wasn’t there to give Mr. Cruz a cover by instinctively turning the spotlight on himself.

But supporters of the former president expect him to end his relative silence – perhaps with his scheduled speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida on Sunday.

Wayne Allyn Root, radio host and frequent visitor to Mar-a-Lago, said Mr. Trump is indebted to Republican expectations of becoming a “kingmaker” for the party in 2022, if he does not become himself. same candidate for 2024.

“It needs time to heal,” Mr. Root said, “and I think the time is about to end.”

In the meantime, a battered and battered capital has adjusted to life at a calmer pace, with calmer activities and words replacing the obscenities, characters, and gibberish that shaped how the days passed. Bagels on Bannon. Grandchildren at golf. Church on covfefe.

Historian Michael Beschloss said it would take some time to readjust to the idea that presidents typically don’t assess their existence hour by hour on how many headlines they can generate.

“It is human nature that to defend themselves, people locked in a fairing car with a reckless driver will have their eyes wide open and their hearts racing, with a lot of adrenaline flowing,” Mr Beschloss said. . “I hope that for most Americans this car ride has now stopped and we can stagger and catch our breath.”

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Trump and Biden campaign in Pennsylvania and Michigan on final race weekend

President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. crisscrossed two key states of the northern battlefield on Saturday in a series of campaign stops with Election Day just three days away.

Mr. Trump had scheduled four rallies across Pennsylvania, starting with one in Bucks County and ending in Montoursville, while Mr. Biden appeared in Flint, Mich., Intending to visit Detroit more late.

The two states were part of the so-called “blue wall” – Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – that swayed Democrats in the recent national election, but was crucial to Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump has struggled in all three states throughout the 2020 campaign and is insisting that one of the three be on his card this year, in an election cycle marked by a coronavirus pandemic and economic recession.

In Bucks County, Mr. Trump gave a low-key speech, speaking first from the teleprompter, to several hundred people seated in folding chairs arranged in a field in front of a stage and podium.

“A great red wave is forming,” Mr. Trump said, showing little energy he does when speaking in front of thousands of people at large gatherings. “As sure as we are here together, this red wave is forming. They see it from all sides and there is nothing they can do about it.

At one point, the president – who is hoping for either a clear victory for himself or a close result he can fight in court – claimed Pennsylvania’s results would not be clear on election day.

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“So you’re going to watch November 3. I think it’s highly likely that you won’t have a decision because Pennsylvania is very big,” Mr. Trump said. “We are going to wait. November 3 is going to come and go, and we won’t know. And you are going to have chaos in our country.

The President’s first speech took place in a field in front of the farm where George Washington planned to cross the Delaware River. The small crowd sat side by side, mostly unmasked. Unlike what it has done at its other rallies, Mr. Trump’s campaign has not placed strong supporters in a position behind him.

The president criticized Mr Biden’s business practices in a state hit hard in recent years by job losses and after this year’s economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.

“For decades, they’ve targeted your steel plants, shut down your factories, and sent millions of your jobs overseas, all while lining their pockets with special interests,” Mr. Trump said. “No one embodies this betrayal and betrayal more than Joe Biden.”

Mr. Trump’s teleprompter appeared to have trouble at one point, but for the first 45 minutes of his appearance, the president tried to stick to a speech that seemed designed to portray him in a more “presidential” light. , Avoiding some of the defensive explosions that were at the heart of his rallies.

But then he seemed to lose interest in the speech and started talking about Mr Biden’s son Hunter, his own media coverage and the injustice he thinks the coverage was of his administration’s handling of. the coronavirus pandemic.

He mocked Mr Biden for wearing sunglasses and dismissed his Democratic rival as simply a puppet of the Liberal Democrats in Congress.

And he continued a long impromptu riff on ventilator production by his administration as he downplayed concerns about the coronavirus even as the country surpassed 90,000 new cases a day, with hospitalizations on the rise. He insisted that “we are turning the round” and said that a vaccine to “end the pandemic once and for all” would be ready within a few weeks.

“We have done an incredible job. At some point, they’re going to admit it, ”Mr. Trump said after mocking Mr. Biden for focusing too much on the virus. “We did an A-plus job. I’m giving myself a D, or maybe an F, in terms of public relations. Mr Trump tried to correct an ad-lib for a speech he gave on Friday in which he baselessly accused doctors of trying to profit from deaths from coronaviruses. On Saturday, he said of Mr Biden’s concerns about the pandemic: “We agree, we agree that this is serious,” but added that “his rival’s only plan is to do of you a prisoner at home, a prisoner in your own country ”.

He fabricated a chain of events in which Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota and a favorite progressive target of Mr. Trump, would oversee national security if Mr. Biden wins. And he referred to the voter turnout operation the Republican Party has been building over the past 18 months, saying it would prove to be decisive on election day.

Separately, for the second day in a row, Mr. Biden traveled to the Upper Midwest, a critical region where he has multiple ambitions: to win back voters who drifted to Mr. Trump in 2016 and become so many Democratic voters. traditional, including black people. residents, as possible.

After making stops in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin on Friday, Mr. Biden devoted Saturday to Michigan, where Mr. Trump held a rally the day before. Mr. Biden brought in a brand substitute to help his cause: former President Barack Obama.

Over the past two weeks, Mr. Obama has campaigned solo for Mr. Biden in Pennsylvania and Florida, but Saturday was the first time in the general election that he and Mr. Biden had campaigned together in person. The former president has the potential to help Mr Biden, who served two terms as vice president, with key groups like black voters as well as young people who might not be naturally drawn to a moderate in his 70s like Mr. Biden.

Mr. Obama spoke to Mr. Trump about his handling of the pandemic, highlighting a theme that has been a central message for Mr. Biden in the final days of the campaign.

Noting Mr Trump’s baseless claim that doctors are taking advantage of coronavirus deaths, Mr Obama said: “He can’t understand, he doesn’t understand the idea that someone is risking their life for it. save others without trying to make money. ”

Mr. Trump continues to hold crowded gatherings as the pandemic rages on, and Mr. Obama ridiculed him for his obsession with crowd size, asking, “No one came to his birthday party when was he a child? Was he traumatized?

The Biden campaign also plans to deploy Mr. Obama to South Florida and Atlanta on Monday, where he will attempt to help not only Mr. Biden but also two Democratic Senate candidates, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock. Saturday’s trip was also an opportunity to lend a hand in a tight Senate race, as Gary Peters, an incumbent Democrat, tries to fend off a challenge from his Republican opponent, John James.

For its two events on Saturday, the Biden campaign focused on voice-rich Southeast Michigan. Their first event was a drive-through rally in Flint, the largest city in Genesee County, where cars lined up in rows in a parking lot outside a high school. Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama were also scheduled to appear later Saturday at an event in Detroit where Stevie Wonder was scheduled to perform.

Mr. Obama has won Michigan twice, and Genesee County is an example of where Democrats lost ground in 2016 in a big way compared to how the Obama-Biden ticket fared. Hillary Clinton won the county, but by just nine points, a far cry from Mr. Obama’s 28-point victory four years earlier.

Many cars lined up at the Flint rally displayed campaign signs, including those of Mr. Biden and Mr. Peters, as well as a Halloween-themed sign that showed a ghost and said, “Don’t boo. , vote! ”

Ahead of the event, two large video screens showed the Michigan-State of Michigan football game – a reminder that even three days before the election, candidates are vying for voters’ attention.

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Trump and Biden hope to rally swing state voters this weekend.

President Trump, hoping to regain the energy that led him to a surprise victory four years ago, gathered crowds in Ohio and Wisconsin on Saturday, as he and Joseph R. Biden Jr focused on battlefield states in the final days of a race clouded by increasing coronavirus cases.

Arriving in Circleville, Ohio on Saturday night, Mr. Trump played down the threat of the virus, citing his own family’s experience as an example of why a pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans is not that bad. He also recalled his victory in Bellwether State four years ago, raising the question of why he chose to campaign there 10 days before election day.

The answer: an erosion of support in suburbs like Circleville, outside of Columbus. While exit polls from four years ago showed Mr. Trump gaining the Ohio suburbs by 20 points, a Fox poll earlier this month put him 10 points behind Mr. Biden.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump is campaigning in New Hampshire, the only state on his weekend itinerary he did not complete in 2016. He will also be making a trip to Maine.

Mr Biden had no in-person events scheduled for Sunday, but was planning to speak at a virtual concert in support of his campaign.

Mr Biden spent much of Saturday in Pennsylvania, staging two drive-by rallies as he tried to overturn a major election prize Mr Trump narrowly won four years ago.

Mr Biden has traveled to suburbs of Philadelphia, where he hopes to improve Hillary Clinton’s performance in 2016, propelled by college graduates voters rejected by Mr Trump. Then he flew to Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania, a county Mr. Trump won in double digits after former President Barack Obama won it twice.

Speaking from a scene decorated with pumpkins and hay bales, Mr Biden spoke to Mr Trump about a number of topics, including his handling of the coronavirus, noting that more new cases have been reported across the country on Friday than any other day since the pandemic began. Mr. Biden also tried to push back Mr. Trump’s attacks on his position on fracking or fracking.

“I’m not banning hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania or anywhere,” he said. “And I’m going to protect jobs in Pennsylvania, period.