US Elections: Trump and Biden campaigns ramp up

  • Biden is heading to the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania on Monday, where he plans to speak with union workers.

  • Trump will hold a 1pm (17:00 GMT) news conference on economic recovery from the pandemic

  • Kamala Harris and Mike Pence are both visiting the key battleground state of Wisconsin, days after Trump and Biden visited the city of Kenosha, a hotspot in the country's civil and racial unrest. 

  • Biden remains ahead nearly seven points in national polling averages; some polls have suggested a tightening race in states considered key to winning the Electoral College. 

  • Today is the Labor Day holiday, a date that historically signifies the beginning of the most aggressive stretch of campaigning. There are 56 days until the general election on November 3. 

Here are the latest updates: 

Monday, September 7: 

18:45 GMT -  Trump says 'Biden’s a stupid person'

With his campaign travel significantly curtailed because of the coronavirus, Trump continues to take the non-traditional strategy of issuing campaign-style attacks against his opponent from the White House.

During his news conference Monday, Trump spent a good portion of his 20-minute opening remarks on the economy assailing Democrat Joe Biden, critiquing him on his record as vice president, China, Ukraine, Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in those countries, and even Biden’s intelligence.

“Biden’s a stupid person,” Trump declared.

Monday’s campaign-style remarks at the White House, just like the series of convention-related events Trump held there last month, are a sharp break from tradition.

Incumbent presidents generally separate campaign activities from official White House activities to avoid criticism as well as the potential legal issues surrounding the use of taxpayer-funded resources for campaigning purposes.

Trump White House

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on the North Portico of the White House [Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press]

18:30 GMT - Trump says post master should resign if wrongdoing 'can be proven'

Trump has said that Post Master General Louis Dejoy should resign if reports that he violated campaign finance law "can be proven".

The statement comes after a former employee told the Washington Post that DeJoy, then a Republican Party fundraiser, would ask workers of the company that he previously ran to donate to Republican candidates. He would then pay workers back in hefty bonuses, in an apparent violation of campaign finance law, the employee told the newspaper. 

When asked during Monday’s news briefing at the White House if there should be an investigation in DeJoy’s conduct, Trump responded:  "Sure. I think let the investigations go."  

When asked if Dejoy should resign if wrongdoing is uncovered, Trump said:  "Yeah, if something can be proven, always."

 Louis DeJoy

A former employee says Post Master General Louis DeJoy violated campaign finance laws as a fundraiser for the Republican Party [Reuters]

18:15 GMT - Trump says 'only an animal' would call American war dead 'losers'

Trump, in a news briefing at the White House, has again denied that he called American war dead as “suckers” and “losers”, as reported in an Atlantic magazine article published last week. 

"Who would say a thing like that? Only an animal would say a thing like that,” Trump said during the wide-ranging briefing from the White House. 

Trump also asked a reporter during the question and answer portion to take off his mask, saying: "You'll have to take that off.”

The reporter refused, and said he would speak louder.

18:00 GMT - Harris meets with Jacob Blake family

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris has with the family of a Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, where Vice President Mike Pence was also visiting as the presidential race enters its final phase.

Harris gathered with Blake's father, two sisters and members of his legal team at a private airport in Milwaukee while Blake's mother and attorney Ben Crump joined by phone. Blake also joined the conversation by phone.

Joe Biden met with the family last week in Milwaukee before visiting Kenosha, the city where police shot Blake seven times in the back. 

Kamala HArris

Democratic US vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris arrives at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin [Alex Wroblewski/The Associated Press]

17:45 GMT - Poll: More US voters think Trump will best Biden in debates

More US voters think Trump will win the upcoming presidential debates over Democrat Joe Biden, a new poll reveals.

Forty-seven percent of voters say Trump will perform better than Biden in their three debate meetings, the first of which is on September 29, compared to 41 percent who say Biden will win, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll.

Trump, who is lagging behind Biden in national and battleground state polls, is looking to the debates for a boost.  With the candidates’ in-person campaign schedules drastically altered due to the coronavirus, the thinking is that voters will be looking at the debates even more closely to help them decide who to vote for. 

In 2016, 84 million watched the first debate between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. The poll of 1,000 registered voters taken Aug. 28-31 by landline and cellphone has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 points.

Presidential debate

New poll finds more voters think Trump will best Biden in a debate [File: Mark Ralston/Reuters]

17:30 GMT - Singer Cardi B responds to Candace Owens criticism of Biden interview

Singer Cardi B has responded to conservative figure Candace Owens, who had called her an "illiterate rapper" and questioned whether she was fit to interview Biden. 

“Why wouldn’t Joe Biden sit down with me? I have millions of followers and I pay millions in taxes," she said. "I’m heard all around the word."

In a video produced by Elle magazine in August, the singer interviewed Biden about police brutality and the coronavirus pandemic. 

17:00 GMT - Trump launches battleground ad touting 'Great American Comeback'

The Trump campaign will launch a new ad in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan this week, touting the country's recovery from the coronavirus. 

The campaign has repeatedly sought to portray Trump, who has been resistant to lockdowns across the country throughout the pandemic, as the candidate best suited to lead the US economy out of the crisis. 

The ad seizes on comments made by Biden in August, in which he said he would lockdown the country again if the spread of the coronavirus warranted it. 

 

Why is Trump worried about mail-voting? | Start Here

16:30 GMT - In op-ed, Warren says Biden 'will stand up for working women'

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who ran against Biden in the Democratic primary, has written in an op-ed in the Cosmopolitan magazine that the candidate will "stand up for working women".

“America’s women are getting us through this crisis," she wrote. "They deserve a break, a chance to get ahead, and an economy that works for them. Donald Trump doesn’t get that, but Joe and Kamala do."

Progressive primary candidates have largely embraced Biden, citing the urgency of defeating Trump. 

16:00 GMT - Trump expected to address coronavirus recovery

President Donald Trump in recent weeks has sought to reframe the election away from his handling of the coronavirus, towards a "law and order" message. 

However, on Monday, he appears set to address the economic comeback from the pandemic, tweeting "Jobs number, and the Economic comeback, are looking GREAT."

Republicans have repeatedly focused on the country's economic strength before the pandemic to portray Trump as the man to lead the recovery. Biden, meanwhile, has said Trump's ineptitude in handling the crisis has made the situation worse. 

15:30 GMT - Biden campaign capitalises on war dead comments

The Biden campaign has sought to capitalise on the uproar about Trump's reported disparagement of fallen military members by relaunching an advertisement this week in battleground states with large numbers of military personnel that highlighted his own record of support for the armed forces.

The advertisement, titled "Protect Our Troops", portrays Biden as being from a military family and understanding the sacrifices service members make, according to the campaign. Biden's son Beau was deployed to Iraq in 2008 as part of the Delaware Army National Guard. 

The Atlantic magazine, citing four unnamed people, reported last week that Trump had referred to Marines buried in an American cemetery near Paris as "losers" and declined to visit their graves during a 2018 trip to France. Trump vehemently denied the report. The Associated Press, the Washington Post and Fox News confirmed parts of the report also with unnamed sources.

Biden Campaign Ad

The Biden campaign has relaunched its "Protect Our Troops" advertisement in battleground states [Screengrab/Joe Biden Campaign] 

15:00 GMT - Biden to address labour unions 

Biden will meet on Monday with the leader of the largest federation of US labour unions, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, at the group's state headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and take questions from union workers.

The Harrisburg event highlights the Biden campaign's strategy for Pennsylvania, where early voting starts in mid-September.

The former vice president needs his party's base, including African Americans in places like majority-Black Harrisburg, to vote. His campaign also wants to convince enough working-class white voters in the state, many of them unionised, that Biden is a better option than Trump.

_______________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera's continuing coverage of the US elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.


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