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Essential Politics: The October surprise of the 2020 campaign – Los Angeles Times



In the chaotic series of events surrounding President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis can be found almost every element of the turbulent, acrimonious politics of this moment in U.S. history.


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Fights over basic facts. Political weaponizing of public health recommendations. Refusing to provide basic levels of public transparency and accountability. A federal government that has struggled to project calm, not calamity.

The idea of an “October surprise” is one of the more hackneyed ideas in politics — a vestige of an era where a surprise revelation could sway enough undecided voters to change the outcome of an election.


But the surprise this time didn’t upend the campaign as much as it confirmed for voters the central premise: a president who hasn’t seemed to take the dangers of the coronavirus seriously enough.

His, by now, familiar mixed signals on masks and testing were gone by the time a short video appeared on his Twitter account on Sunday.

“It’s been a very interesting journey,” Trump said. “I learned a lot about COVID.”

The president’s health is shaping up to be an October surprise like none other, a symbol of his personal and political struggle with a public health emergency that now dominates the national conversation with only four weeks until election day.


Trump: truth or consequences

The events of the weekend were a confusing swirl of partial pieces of information and Trump’s insistence that he’s quickly getting better.

His temperature may have gone down, as his physician insisted over the weekend, but he still feverishly sought to downplay the situation’s severity — culminating in an impromptu outing on Sunday to wave to supporters gathered outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

My colleague David Lauter summed up the show of stamina this way: “Trump’s brief drive-by in a sealed vehicle to wave to his supporters outside the hospital put his Secret Service detail at risk. The president’s main political liability is that voters don’t think he takes the disease seriously.”

Unhelpful, too, was the muddled message delivered by the president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley. Much of Saturday seemed consumed by Conley’s changing story on how long Trump had known he was COVID-19 positive. Sunday didn’t get much better, after Conley made opaque comments about there having been “expected findings” when asked about tests on the president’s lungs and that he would have to “check with the nursing staff” for details on Trump using supplemental oxygen.


To some, it was a reminder of Trump’s own flexible relationship with the truth while in office. “The chickens,” said GOP communications strategist Kevin Madden, “are coming home to roost.”

Meanwhile, our Times team has taken a look at how the president might have contracted COVID-19. And many of those who have been with Trump or at events at the White House have announced they, too, are infected with the virus.

Washington’s coronavirus outbreak

— Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Saturday he was checking himself into a hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

— Three Minnesota congressmen are facing backlash for taking a commercial flight home from Washington, D.C., just two days after they shared Air Force One with Trump.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Saturday that the Senate will not return to session until Oct. 19 after three lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus.

— Republicans pledged to plow ahead with the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court despite Trump’s diagnosis and the potential for an outbreak among their ranks.

— Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe will not testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, citing news that two members of the panel have tested positive for the coronavirus.

— In California’s Trump Country, supporters are struggling to process the president having COVID-19.


— New Jersey state health officials have contacted more than 200 people who attended a campaign fundraiser at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster hours before the president announced he had COVID-19.

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Biden plays catch-up in Nevada

With Joe Biden announcing on Sunday that he had tested negative for the coronavirus, his attention remained on the campaign — including the effort to win over voters in Nevada.

For months, Democrats failed to conduct the intensive voter registration and face-to-face conversations that helped flip the state in the late 2000s from red to blue.


Although Democrats say they’re making up for lost time — using measures that ensure it’s safe again to knock on doors and finding creative means of engaging voters on social media and other outlets — they also say the contest is closer in Nevada than is comfortable.

National lightning round

— The Supreme Court opens a new term on Monday and within weeks is set to hear cases on healthcare and religion that may give a preview of how the conservative majority will wield its power.

— Voters awaiting results in some key presidential battleground states on election night should be prepared to keep waiting, thanks to COVID-19 era obstacles that will slow the count.

— “Examine your heart”: Healing from turmoil, Wisconsin voters have a message for America.


In the mail: 21 million ballots

There is no longer a single day on which ballots are mailed to voters across California, though most of the 21.3 million ballots for this election will be in the mail on Monday.

Never before has every registered voter received a ballot in the mail, but these are unusual times. The hard part, though, may not be the distribution and collection but rather the education — there are millions of Californians who have stuck to voting in person even as the majority of ballots in almost every election over the past decade were cast somewhere other than a polling place.

And the Trump-generated furor over voting by mail and the U.S. Postal Service is upending the conventional wisdom, said longtime election data analyst Paul Mitchell.

“We believe there’s actually going to be more Democratic voters returning their ballots early than in prior years,” he said about the early weeks. Republicans, meanwhile, may follow the president’s lead and show up more often to vote in person.


“That idea that there’s this polarization about election mechanics, and that people will take actions to be on ‘team blue’ or ‘team red,’ is just the weirdest part of this election cycle.”

Today’s essential California politics

— Walt Disney Co. Executive Chairman Bob Iger has resigned from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 economic task force, an abrupt public confirmation of the growing tensions over California’s reluctance to allow theme parks to reopen.

— A federal appeals court decided 2 to 1 last week to uphold Newsom’s restrictions on indoor worship during the pandemic.

— The governor vetoed a bill that would have further protected journalists covering demonstrations from physical or verbal obstruction by a law enforcement officer.


— California became the first state government in the country last week to adopt a law to study and develop proposals for potential reparations to descendants of enslaved people and those affected by slavery.

— Many state-based corporations will have to increase the diversity of their boards of directors under a new law signed by Newsom.

— Labor unions and liberal activists criticized Newsom’s decision to veto a bill that would have provided sweeping new labor protections for workers laid off during the pandemic.

— California needs a major tax system overhaul, writes columnist George Skelton, and tinkering with Proposition 13 won’t cut it.


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Week In Politics: Breaking Down Trump And Biden's Last Presidential Debate – NPR



With the election fast approaching we discuss the implications of this week’s debate between President Trump and Joe Biden.


Ten days until the most contentious presidential election in recent memory will be over – maybe. Of course, millions of Americans have already cast their ballots. The two candidates met this week for a debate, which, at times, actually resembled one. We’re joined now by NPR’s Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Debate No. 2 – maybe less to talk about because it was a bit more civil, would you say?

ELVING: A bit more, more than a little. It reminded us quite a bit of a presidential debate or what they were once supposed to be. It probably didn’t change many minds. But for those still undecided, there was some substantive information to be had along with the impressions and the exaggerations and, of course, outright falsehoods. This was probably the last opportunity for either of these two candidates to address a national audience before Election Day. And we should remember, something like 50 million Americans have already voted. And that’s perhaps only a third of the record total of votes we expect to see by the end of this process. Estimates are the turnout rate will be the highest in more than a century.

SIMON: And how are these two candidates going to spend these few precious days until November 3?

ELVING: You know, Joe Biden’s going to be hitting the key swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania. That’s where he is today. He’ll be wearing his mask, holding pandemic-style events like we’ve seen. He also has former President Obama out there. We saw him just this last week. He was in Pennsylvania. And he’s out there on the stump rallying Democrats.

Meanwhile, on the other side, the president is locked into a frenzied round of rallies in his coming days – five this weekend alone. And despite the pandemic, his often mask-less crowds can be expected to pack together to hear him. Just today, I saw a poll from Pew Research that says only 1 Trump voter in 4 thinks that the COVID is even an important voting issue.

So these events showcase the enthusiasm of Trump’s strongest supporters. And he believes they show him as a winner. Here we have this 74-year-old man just recently recovered from COVID. He’s out there performing, drawing on whatever sources of energy he may have, projecting his closing message, a victory over the virus. He says we’ve turned the corner. He says it’s going away. But, Scott, 1,000 Americans died of COVID on the day of that debate. And yesterday, we had 85,000 new cases – a new single-day record.

SIMON: And, Ron, still no new relief bill for those suffering from the pandemic. Do both parties think there’s some kind of political advantage they can gain in not passing something before Election Day?

ELVING: This is less about the presidential campaigns and more about Congress, where there’s a mix of principle and cold-eyed election calculus at work here. Lots of Democrats want a big package of relief, and they think a skinny one is counterproductive. And they want to help cities and states that are going bankrupt right now. Generally, Republicans oppose that. But Republicans, especially in the Senate, are divided over how much to do right now. At least half the Senate Republicans think we have to stop. Let’s look at the numbers. They point out that the federal budget last year just ended with a record $3 trillion – $3 trillion – in the red. That’s a lot of new debt in one year. You know, when Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980, he called it a major scandal that the federal debt, going all the way back to George Washington up to Ronald Reagan, was approaching $1 trillion. Well, now we have $3 trillion in new debt in just 12 months.

SIMON: Let me follow up on something you said earlier, Ron. Projections, if they’re on target, show this could be the highest turnout in more than a century.

ELVING: That’s right. 1908 was the highest turnout rate. And, of course, since then, the franchise has been greatly expanded. Just a century ago, we added women to the list of people who were qualified to vote in America. And then, of course, about 50 years ago, we added people 18 years old. So it’s a much, much larger group of people. So when we get a turnout rate as high as it was in 1908, it’s going to blow the doors off and be 150 million people.

SIMON: Well, NPR’s Ron Elving, thanks so much for being with us. We have a lot to look forward to, don’t we?

ELVING: Yes, we do. And thank you, Scott.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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'Escape the politics': B.C. clinics headhunt Alberta doctors – Calgary Herald



Article content continued

The move led some doctors to publicly consider leaving Alberta, with the provincial government having identified more than 200 rural doctors reconsidering their practices in April. In some communities, doctors have followed through with the decision, with five Stettler physicians announcing in September their plans to leave Alberta.

Recently proposed rules by Alberta’s regulatory college for doctors would prevent doctors from quitting en masse, requiring physicians to stagger their departures.

Yearwood said the fractured relationship between doctors and the government presents a significant opportunity for other jurisdictions looking to bring in more physicians.

“These doctors are talking about leaving, and I’m in the business of supporting doctors, so if they’re going to leave I would like them to come to us,” Yearwood said. “With the news out of Alberta, with all the disenchanted doctors, I chose to take this approach to get right to the heart of the matter.”

The campaign hasn’t resulted in considerable uptake yet, Yearwood said, but traffic to his company’s website has surged. He said he expects to be in touch with more doctors in the upcoming weeks and months.

Calgary has been B.C.’s main competition in recruiting doctors over the past decade, said Yearwood. He called it the “destination of choice” for many, with factors like a better billing system, lower taxes and lower property costs central to the city’s success. But the tide now seems to be turning.

“We were behind the eight-ball financially for a long time but recent changes have more or less levelled the playing field,” he said.

Though part of the Denning Health Group campaign takes a political angle, Yearwood said the company is also looking to lure doctors with warmer weather and competitive compensation.

The Alberta government has said that despite a spotlight on doctors leaving the province, this year has seen a net gain in physicians in Alberta.

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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Elizabeth May's comment on NDP's women candidates 'sexist' says women-in-politics advocate – CTV News Vancouver



As B.C. wraps up its provincial election, federal MP Elizabeth May is attracting heat for a comment condemning the NDP’s women candidates.

On Oct. 23, May posted to Twitter saying, “Be kind. Don’t elect any idealistic climate concerned women to an NDP government to whip their votes and crush their dreams. Vote Green.”

Her comment was a come-back to another user’s tweet encouraging people to vote for the NDP’s Kelly Greene of Richmond-Steveston. The tweet in support of the NDP includes a video of Greene speaking with the NDP’s Bowinn Ma.

Ellen Woodsworth, an advocate for women in politics, says May’s comments are sexist and disappointing.

“You’re saying if a woman is running … that she’s going to automatically do what that party does without having a mind of her own,” said Woodsworth, a former Vancouver city councillor and the current co-chair of the non-partisan Women Transforming Cities.

“I think that’s really sad. I think it’s not doing what we need to do, which is to motivate, encourage and support women to run, and as they decide to run to really be there for them and give them as much support as you have because it’s a really grueling path,” she said.

Woodsworth said she thinks May’s comments are in reference to frustration from some voters and candidates that the NDP has not cancelled the Site C dam project.

“There was strong hope that (the NDP and its candidates) would be speaking out,” she said.

“(But) there’s a lot of good women (running) who’ve got strong records on environmental issues, and some of them are running for the NDP and some run for the Green Party,” Woodsworth added.

Ma took to social media and replied to May, calling her comment “crushing.”

“Portraying (us) … as naive, helpless, delicate women who need to be saved from the Legislature is not kind. It’s patronizing and holds women back,” reads Ma’s tweet.

A leader like May, who is the former leader of the Green Party of Canada, needs to be encouraging other women to run, Woodsworth said.

“I think it’s really critical for women in a leadership position, like Elizabeth May … (she) would want to be encouraging women to run for any party and I know that some of the women running … are outstanding.”

Other women, some of them frequent commenters on B.C. politics, also weighed in, calling the comment “awful,” bad modelling of feminism, and pointing out that there’s no B.C. Green candidate running in Richmond-Steveston.

May’s comments come at the bitter end of an election marred by several incidents of sexist and racist comments, including BC Liberal candidate Jane Thornthwaite’s comments about NDP candidate Bowinn Ma, which made national headlines.

May’s comments, as well as Thornthwaite’s, show that women can enact sexism as well, Woodsworth said.

“I’ve got many scars on my back from being attacked by women,” she said.

“Our society is very sexist, it’s racist, and anybody who goes into the political fray has to try to stand in a very principled place and … recognize how difficult it is for other women, other diverse women, to put themselves forward and to run and give them that support,” Woodsworth added.

“If you disagree with them politically, fine, state your disagreements, but don’t undermine them.”

However, at least one person commented on Twitter in apparent agreement with May, saying that they were disappointed with what they see as Ma’s lack of criticism on the Site C dam project.

Women Transforming Cities is trying to encourage more women to run for municipal government in B.C.’s 2022 municipal elections.

Only 16 per cent of mayors in Canada are women, Woodsworth said, and of elected councillors, women only make up 25 per cent.

“We encourage women and encourage diverse women to think seriously about coming forward and running for political office,” Woodsworth said.

In a recent tweet, the organization encouraged women to start planning their run several years in advance.

“Think you want to run for school board, council, or mayor in your city in B.C. in 2022? Start now. Talk about it with your friends and family. Make a plan. Now is a great time,” it reads.

CTV News Vancouver has reached out to May for comment.

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