Pence debate win, COVID recovery boost week

This week’s White House Report Card finds President Trump just 25 days from Election Day and trying to scramble the polls that find him trailing Democrat Joe Biden.

a traffic light hanging over a city: President Donald Trump arrives back at the White House aboard Marine One after being treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Washington, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

© J. Scott Applewhite/AP
President Donald Trump arrives back at the White House aboard Marine One after being treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Washington, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

White House officials, showing some confidence because those same polls showed Trump behind Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, got a bit of a boost from Vice President Mike Pence’s debate win over challenger Sen. Kamala Harris and the president’s quick recovery from COVID-19.

Just like the country, our graders remain far apart. Conservative analyst Jed Babbin graded the week a “B,” citing the president’s recovery, while Democratic pollster John Zogby gave another “F,” noting the president’s call for the nation to move past the virus.

Jed Babbin

Grade: B

It was a pretty good week for President Trump with an outstanding performance by Vice President Pence in the veep debate, Trump’s speedy recovery from the COVID-19 virus and his strong positions on further negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and in refusing to participate in a “virtual” debate with Joe Biden.

Mike Pence took on Kamala Harris and ate her lunch. Harris — like Biden — refused to answer the question of whether they’d try to pack the Supreme Court and Pence made a big moment from that. Harris didn’t help herself by smirking and making up a tall tale about Honest Abe Lincoln not nominating a successor to Roger Taney in the middle of an election. (The Senate was in recess when Taney died in October 1864.) Unfortunately for Trump, vice presidential debates almost never affect the outcome of an election.

Trump’s speedy recovery from the COVID-19 was after treatments that aren’t yet available widely but should be. In any event, he was back to full speed almost immediately.

Trump first cancelled the ongoing stimulus/relief negotiations with Pelosi when a deal couldn’t be made. Having failed to remove Trump with her January impeachment of him, Pelosi now wants a presidential commission established to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment. Ain’t gonna happen. Pelosi, who is often praised by her fellow Democrats as a political genius, hasn’t evidenced such a genius so far.

John Zogby

Grade: F

There is nothing humorous about this president. I cannot speculate what goes on his mind; I can only respond to the public face.

With 24 days until Americans finish casting their votes, President Trump still refuses to condemn white supremacy and white supremacists; lacks the common decency to call the governor of Michigan after an alleged plot to kidnap her; tells a nation where over 212,000 have died and 7 million have been infected that they should not let COVID-19 dominate their lives; sets a terrible example in how he has dealt with the medical community and everything personal in his own life; and calls the vice presidential nominee of

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Mike Pence couldn’t defend the White House’s coronavirus response, so he made up alternative facts

Mike Pence
Mike Pence

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence debates Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at the University of Utah on October 7, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the only scheduled debate between the two before the general election on November 3. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly made false claims about the Trump administration’s coronavirus response as he dodged, interrupted and obfuscated through the vice presidential debate on Wednesday.

Though the lone vice presidential debate was far more civil than the mind-melting presidential debate last week, it was not much different in substance. Moderator Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief for USA Today, asked Pence and Democratic nominee Kamala Harris about a range of important issues but completely failed to press the candidates to actually respond to her questions. That allowed Pence to repeatedly dodge questions he did not want to answer about Trump’s health, racial justice and even abortion.

Pence also refused to say what he would do if Trump rejected a peaceful transition of power, instead echoing the president’s false claims about virtually non-existent voter fraud.

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The two candidates were divided by plexiglass barriers after President Donald Trump and numerous top aides tested positive for the coronavirus following a possible “super spreader” White House event where Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was formally announced. Pence’s unusually red eyes prompted speculation about whether he had “COVID pink eye,” and he was instantly turned into a meme when a fly sat on his head for a full two minutes during one of the segments.

Harris also dodged questions throughout the night as she was repeatedly interrupted by Pence. CBS News found that Pence interrupted Harris twice as much as she interrupted him. Despite avoiding questions about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s health and whether the ticket supports expanding the Supreme Court, fact-checkers concluded that Harris was far more honest than her Republican opponent, who repeatedly made false and misleading claims about the Trump administration’s coronavirus response. Pence heads the chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Harris called the response to the pandemic the “greatest failure of any presidential administration,” repeatedly pointing out the mounting death toll in the U.S. Pence responded by bizarrely claiming that the Obama-Biden response to the H1N1 swine flu in 2009 was a bigger “failure,” because that virus infected 60 million people.

But the swine flu was far less dangerous than the coronavirus, which has killed more than 211,000 people in the US. By comparison, fewer than 13,000 Americans died from the swine flu. Because it was less deadly, it did not require a lockdown, which allowed the virus to spread wider than the coronavirus has thus far. The regular flu typically infects more than 35 million people each year and kills far more

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Pence defends Rose Garden event and administration’s COVID-19 response

Vice President Mike Pence was immediately put on the defensive at the vice presidential debate with Senator Kamala Harris on Wednesday evening, as he was asked to defend the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 210,000 Americans and infected over 7 million, including the president himself.

Pence defended President Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court at a ceremony at the Rose Garden on September 26, where there was no social distancing and limited mask-wearing. Several of the attendees of the event have since tested positive for COVID-19 in addition to the president and first lady Melania Trump, including multiple White House officials.

Pence said many of the people who attended the event “actually were tested for coronavirus,” and added the ceremony was outdoors. However, the president also held an indoor reception, where very few people were photographed wearing masks.

Harris on whether she will take COVID vaccine…


He then pivoted, saying the Trump administration trusted Americans to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines on remaining safe during the pandemic, which includes avoiding large crowds and wearing a mask in public.

“President Trump and I have great confidence in the American people and their ability to take that information and put it into practice,” Pence said. He argued that imposing a national mask mandate, as Joe Biden has suggested, would be federal overreach. “The difference here is President Trump trusts the American people to make choices in the best interest of their health.”

Harris hit back by arguing that Mr. Trump had lied to the American public by repeatedly downplaying the coronavirus.

“You respect the American people by telling them the truth,” Harris said.

Harris slammed the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, saying that the president “minimized the seriousness” of the virus from the beginning.

“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris argued.

Harris also responded to a question about whether she would take a coronavirus vaccine if it was made available before the election. Harris had previously said she would not trust Mr. Trump’s word on whether a vaccine is ready. However, Harris said at the debate that she would trust the word of public health professionals.

“If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said, referring to the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. “If Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”

Pence said Harris’ stance on a vaccine was “unconscionable,” and said she should “stop playing politics with people’s lives.”

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Pence Defends Amy Coney Barrett Rose Garden Event Because It Was Outside And ‘Many’ Attendees Were Tested Beforehand


With Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination ceremony at the White House increasingly looking like a superspreader event of coronavirus infections, Vice President Mike Pence defended the gathering Wednesday at the vice presidential candidates’ debate, arguing that it was outdoors and attendees were tested beforehand—but there was a portion of the event held indoors and health experts say testing or being outdoors doesn’t mean attendees should disregard safety guidelines on social distancing and wearing masks.

Key Facts

Pence said “many people” at the ceremony were tested for coronavirus and “it was an outdoor event, which all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise.”

But that isn’t entirely true because there was a smaller reception inside the White House, and at both that and the outdoor gathering in the Rose Garden, most attendees failed to wear masks and gathered together in close proximity.

Health experts also say a negative test doesn’t mean people should stop social distancing or wearing masks since it can sometimes take up to a week between first exposure and a positive test result.

When asked by moderator Susan Page why Americans should follow coronavirus safety guidelines when the White House hasn’t, Pence said that Americans will choose to do the right thing if given the facts.

Crucial Quote

“That Rose Garden event, there’s a great deal of speculation about it. My wife Karen and I were honored to be there. Many people that were at that event, Susan, were tested for coronavirus and it was an outdoor event, which all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise. The difference here is that President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interest of their health,” Pence said.

Key Background

At least 11 people who attended the nomination ceremony have tested positive.

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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‘Freedom’: Pence Offers First Defense Of Rose Garden Superspreader Event

Vice President Mike Pence offered up the first direct defense of the Rose Garden COVID-19 superspreader event to unveil Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, casting it as a matter of freedom of choice.

During Wednesday’s vice presidential debate, Pence cast the Rose Garden event, where dozens are thought to have been infected with the virus, as an epiphenomenon of the larger pandemic.

Pence said that the story of both that pandemic and the Rose Garden event is not one of incompetence, or dangerous negligence on the part of the government. Rather, it’s a divide between those who love freedom and liberal statists who want to impose yet another mandate on the tired millions, yearning to breathe free.

“President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interests of their health,” Pence said. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris consistently talk about mandates and not just mandates with the coronavirus, but a government takeover of health care.”

“We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people,” Pence added.

Pence framed that response not just as a defense of the Rose Garden event, however.

Rather, he teed up that divide as a way of accounting for the whole pandemic – and as a way of painting criticism of the Trump administration’s response as just another whine from the meddlesome left.

Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force since February, argued that when New York City, New Orleans, and Detroit were hit hard with COVID in March and April, the Trump administration “told the American people what needed to be done.”

“And the American people made the sacrifices,” Pence added.

In theory, those sacrifices have been made in part to allow the Trump administration to organize a coherent response to the virus, which would then allow us all to return to normalcy on a faster timeframe.

That did not happen.

Rather, as Pence pointed out, the Sun Belt was hit next.

“Americans stepped forward,” Pence intoned. “But the reality is, the work of the President of the United States goes on.”

And it was then, Pence added, that “a vacancy in the the Supreme Court has opened up.”

So, the Rose Garden superspreader event wasn’t just an expression of the Trump administration’s love of freedom. Rather, Pence implied, it was yet another milestone in the pandemic that has now claimed the lives of 210,000 Americans.

And in the world of Pence’s reply, that’s not a failure. It’s a simple result of the fact that the “work of the President of the United States goes on.”

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Pence defends ‘outdoor’ Rose Garden event linked to coronavirus spread

Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday defended a Rose Garden event last month after which more than 30 people, including the president, tested positive for coronavirus.

The Sept. 26 event where President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the Supreme Court was outdoors, one tactic routinely touted by scientists to mitigate the virus, Pence said.

“That Rose Garden event, there’s been a great deal of speculation about it,” Pence said at the vice presidential debate. “My wife and I were honored to be there. Many people there were tested for coronavirus, and it was an outdoor event which all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise.”

Few people at the event were wearing masks and there was little distance between people. Some guests interacted at gatherings both inside and outside the White House before and after the event.

“President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interests of their health,” Pence continued. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris consistently talk about mandates, and not just mandates with the coronavirus, but a government takeover of health care.”

Since the event, which is widely referred to as a “superspreader” gathering, a number of attendees and top administration staff have tested positive, including the president and his wife, Melania Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, adviser Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), to name a few.

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Pence, Harris to meet in vice presidential debate as Covid cases surge in the White House

SALT LAKE CITY — Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are set to meet Wednesday night at the University of Utah in the vice presidential debate as both candidates face intensified pressure to demonstrate they are prepared to step in as commander in chief.

The vice presidential debate typically draws little fanfare, Pence and Harris will be examined by voters who are choosing between two senior citizens for president.

President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis last week sparked questions over the transferral of the powers of the presidency. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has said he sees himself as a “bridge” to the next generation of Democrats, raising speculation as to whether he would seek a second term.

Regardless of who wins, Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, would both set a new record for the oldest president on to take the oath on inauguration day.

The 90-minute debate will be moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page and will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET. It is the only vice presidential debate of the 2020 presidential campaign.

The debate will be divided into nine segments of approximately 10 minutes each and there will be no commercial breaks. Topics are not being disclosed ahead of time.

Harris will also make history as the first Black woman and the first Asian American to participate in a general election debate as a candidate on a major-party ticket.

While Trump’s diagnosis is expected to hang over the debate hall, Wednesday’s event will also feature a visual reminder of the ongoing pandemic and the nearly 20 people tied to Trump who have tested positive for the virus in the past few days.

Sheets of plexiglass will separate the two candidates on the stage, an extra safety measure that Harris requested because of Pence’s potential exposure to Trump. There was some concern that Trump could have infected Biden during last week’s debate. Biden has consistently tested negative.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the candidates would also be separated by more than 12 feet, an increase from the 7 feet that kept Trump and Biden apart.

Masks are also required by all attendees except for the candidates and the moderator. The CPD has indicated that the mask requirement will be enforced on Wednesday, following last week’s debate when members of the Trump family ignored the rule.

Both Pence and Harris have tested negative for Covid-19 multiple days in a row, according to their campaigns.

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Power Up: A VP debate for the times: Pence and Harris face off as White House coronavirus outbreak expands

All this makes the stakes especially high for Vice President Pence, 61, and Sen. Kamala Harris, 55, who will face off tonight for the first time to defend the policies and records of their candidates. These are some key measures of success for both sides, according to sources close to both campaigns: 

Can Pence spin the White House coronavirus outbreak that infected at least 18 people in contact with Trump? 

Trump’s No. 2 – and head of the White House coronavirus task force – will almost certainly be forced to address the outbreak that’s ensnared the president, along with the administration’s handling of the pandemic that has killed nearly 210,000 people in the United States. “Pence’s challenge is to explain what happened in the last few days and defend it,a Trump campaign source told Power Up.

  • You wonder why [Trump’s] numbers with seniors are hurting? You have to show you care,” the source said. “There’s probably a way to get them back because they probably don’t want to vote for Biden but they want Trump to acknowledge that he gets it.”
  • Still, some questions could be nearly impossible for Pence to answer – namely, the potential exposure of Trump’s supporters: “I can basically defend anything about the White House and coronavirus except for them allowing Trump to go to Bedminster – I’m sorry but there is no good spin on that specific point,” the source added.
  • Trump mingled with more than 200 people at his New Jersey golf club last Thursday, hours before he tested positive – and after knowing he was exposed to the virus.

Will Pence – and the Trump team – take more safety precautions at the debate this time? 

Trump’s family was criticized for taking off their masks at least week’s presidential debate. Now that six of the eight members of Trump’s debate prep team have tested positive so far, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and campaign manager Bill Stepien, a public show of masks and distancing could go a long way to show the White House takes the virus seriously. 

  • Yet Pence’s team fought hard against the wall of plexiglass that will divide the candidates on the Salt Lake City debate stage – and traveled to the debate yesterday with his spokeswoman Katie Miller whose husband, top White House aide Stephen Miller, tested positive for coronavirus last night.

Making things more complicated: Questions about whether Pence himself is at risk are already taking center stage. Pence’s doctor released a statement that the vice president’s coronavirus PCR test came out negative yesterday afternoon and therefore is “encouraged to go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine.” 

Pence’s clean up of Trump’s coronavirus messaging could be critical on the campaign trail: Trump’s advisers, staffers, and allies see the president’s response to his own diagnosis “as a missed opportunity,” our colleagues Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. “Some had hoped that he would emerge from his hospital stay slightly

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Pence, Harris to clash in VP debate amid White House virus outbreak

(Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris will square off on Wednesday in their only debate, as President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis and the ongoing pandemic continue to roil the U.S. presidential contest.

The televised clash comes at a precarious moment for the Trump-Pence re-election campaign, less than a week after the president announced he had contracted COVID-19 amid a White House outbreak that has infected numerous high-profile Republicans.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, is leading Trump in national polls, including an advantage of 12 percentage points in the latest Reuters/Ipsos survey of likely voters, with less than four weeks until the Nov. 3 election.

Late on Tuesday, the two sides were still arguing over Harris’ request for plexiglass barriers on stage to lessen the chance of infection. CNN reported that a member of the commission that oversees the debate said Pence would be permitted to appear without a barrier, while Harris would have one on her side of the stage if desired.

Both Pence and Harris, a U.S. senator, tested negative for the coronavirus on Tuesday. Current government guidelines call for anyone exposed to someone with COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days regardless of test results.

Pence’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, Harris spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said, “If the Trump administration’s war on masks has now become a war on safety shields, that tells you everything you need to know about why their COVID response is a failure.”

With two septuagenarians at the top of the ballot, the debate could take on greater importance than in other years, when the vice presidential match-up was largely seen as an afterthought to the presidential debates. Both Pence and Harris will seek to demonstrate that they can step into the Oval Office if necessary to lead the country.

Trump, 74, returned to the White House on Monday after three days in a military hospital. It is unclear when he will again be able to campaign. Trump has said he plans to participate in the Oct. 15 presidential debate.

The pandemic is likely to dominate the proceedings. Biden, 77, and Harris, 55, have made Trump’s handling of the disease the central theme of their campaign, blaming Trump for deliberately downplaying the health risks and failing to endorse mask-wearing.

The 61-year-old Pence, who headed up the administration’s coronavirus task force, will defend Trump’s response to the virus, which has killed 210,000 Americans and decimated the U.S. economy even as other wealthy nations have managed to get the disease under control.

Viewers will have a constant reminder of the pandemic’s effect on daily life: Pence and Harris will be more than 12 feet apart on stage at the University of Utah, in addition to the plexiglass barrier

In preparation for the debate, Harris got help from former Democratic presidential primary rival Pete Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is familiar with Pence’s past record when he was governor

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Days before Rose Garden ceremony, Mike Pence met with maskless Republicans in Cobb County

Actually, you shouldn’t.

Perdue had made the same claim the previous day in a national radio interview. This weekend, the Georgia Republican Party picked up the accusation in a flyer apparently aimed at suburban women in metro Atlanta.

“Outrageously false,” ruled the Washington Post in a fact-check published this morning. Perdue and other Republicans are basing their claim on an account of the 2017 race for the Sixth District congressional seat that the CPUSA posted on its Facebook page:

“The Communist Party did not endorse him,” said Roberta Wood, a CPUSA board member. “It does not endorse candidates of other political parties.” She added, “Posting an article on Facebook does not mean it is an endorsement.”

The newspaper gave him Four Pinocchios:

“At this point, labeling a Democrat a “communist” is almost worthy of parody. But it’s especially smarmy when the “endorsement” he claims is based on a three-year-old Facebook post of a news article. Perdue should be ashamed of himself — and he should apologize.”

Perdue and super PACs behind his campaign have also relentlessly — and falsely — claimed that Ossoff wants to defund police, even as the Democrat has denied that’s the case. And we recently told you of a Senate Leadership Fund’s out-of-bounds attempt to portray Ossoff as a terrorist sympathizer.

Never mind the polls. This barrage is all the evidence you need that this U.S. Senate race is a tight one.


Peach County, Ga., adjacent to both Bibb and Houston counties in middle Georgia, was named as one of 10 bellwether counties to watch on election night in a piece by David Wasserman, an editor at the Cook Political Report. The piece was written for the New York Times:

The population is 52 percent white and 44 percent Black, and its voting is racially polarized. In 2012, Peach County voted by seven points for Mr. Obama. But in 2016, Black turnout dropped sharply, and Mr. Trump won it by three points. Peach County could be a good indicator of whether the addition of Senator Kamala Harris to Mr. Biden’s ticket improves Black turnout.


About a month ago, the Georgia Forestry Commission announced that Deputy Director Gary White had been appointed interim director by Gov. Brian Kemp, citing the departure of Director Charles Williams. This morning, the Athens Banner-Herald tells us the rest of the story:

The director of the Georgia Forestry Commission was arrested in August on a shoplifting charge in Jones County, the Athens Banner-Herald learned Monday. The Gray Police Department arrested Charles ‘Chuck’ Williams, 64, of Watkinsville on the misdemeanor charge Aug. 13, the day after the alleged shoplifting took place in the Ace Hardware store in Gray.


Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential campaign launched three separate TV ads in Georgia and five other battleground states on Tuesday, aiming to increase turnout among Black voters in his quest to unseat President Donald Trump.

The spots come as polls in Georgia show Biden with about 85% of support

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