Biden vs. Trump: Live Updates on the 2020 Campaigns – The New York Times

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Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

Trump faces a tough landscape as coronavirus cases continue to surge.

A Senate runoff election in Alabama that is unusually personal for President Trump.

Republican National Convention planning in Florida that is overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak.

Primary runoffs in Texas — as well as a new poll showing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. ahead of Mr. Trump in the state.

And spikes in Covid-19 cases in G.O.P.-led states from southeast to southwest.

Republicans are facing major decisions this week across the Sun Belt as the party tries to chart a course through a political moment defined not just by health and economic crises but also the unsteady and increasingly unpopular leadership of Mr. Trump.

The landscape for the president is so tough right now that Democrats are even encouraging Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump’s opponent, to press his advantage and compete aggressively in traditionally Republican states like Georgia and Texas.

With 16 weeks to go until the general election on Nov. 3, The Times is expanding its live coverage of the campaigns for president, House and Senate, and governor, as well as coverage of voters, politics and policy across the nation.

Our reporters will be delivering daily updates, news and analysis on all the major races and political dimensions, including voting rights and mail-in voting, the protests against systemic racism and social injustice, and the repercussions of the virus and the devastated economy on the nation’s politics.

The Sun Belt is drawing particular attention this week, with Alabama Republicans deciding a Senate runoff on Tuesday between Jeff Sessions, Mr. Trump’s former attorney general, and Tommy Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach.

Mr. Trump has endorsed Mr. Tuberville against his one-time ally, Mr. Sessions, who the president came to despise for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Most polls in Alabama close at 8 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

Texas also has primary runoffs on Tuesday for several key House seats, as well as a Democratic Senate primary runoff between M.J. Hegar and state Senator Royce West; the winner will face Senator John Cornyn in November. In Maine, Democrats will choose a nominee on Tuesday to face Senator Susan Collins, with Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House, widely seen as the likely winner.

In Florida, state officials on Sunday reported the highest single-day total of new coronavirus cases by any state since the start of the pandemic, with more than 15,000 new infections. (New York had recorded the previous high of 12,274 on April 4.) New cases are increasing across the Sun Belt, as this map shows, and Republican governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas face criticism for their decisions to begin reopening their states weeks ago.

Republican Party officials still plan to attend their convention in Florida, an epicenter of the virus.

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Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

More than a dozen Republican National Committee members from across the country told The Times in interviews that they were still planning to attend the party’s convention next month in Florida, despite the surge in cases.

President Trump last month moved the convention from Charlotte, N.C., to Jacksonville, Florida’s largest city, because Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina refused to guarantee a late-August arena party free of social distancing. Several of the R.N.C. members interviewed are planning to first go to Charlotte, where the party’s delegates will conduct much of their official business, before relocating to Jacksonville for the big party so desired by Mr. Trump.

“It’s a risk you have to take,” said Morton Blackwell, 80, an R.N.C. member from Virginia who has attended every party convention since he was the youngest elected delegate backing Barry Goldwater in 1964. “You take risks every day. You drive down the street and a cement truck could crash into you. You can’t not do what you have to do because of some possibility of a bad result.”

Art Wittich, 62, an R.N.C. member from Montana, said he had a “duty” to travel to Charlotte and Jacksonville to nominate and support Mr. Trump.

“It is not only my duty, but also my honor go to Charlotte and Jacksonville to re-elect President Trump,” he said. “As such, I am willing to assume any risk to do so.”

While a handful of Republican senators who are occasionally skeptical of Mr. Trump — Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, to name three — have announced they won’t go to Jacksonville, there is very little appetite among party regulars to slim the festivities to less than the planned three nights or switch to a virtual convention, as Democrats have for their event in Milwaukee, which was originally slated to start this week. It is now scheduled to take place in mid-August without delegates present.

The conditions that led Mr. Trump to move the convention out of North Carolina now apply equally to Florida. Jacksonville officials late last month said they would require convention attendees to wear face masks, though there has been no word yet on restricting how many people can fit inside the city’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Republican officials are also considering hosting some of the convention outdoors at the city’s football or minor-league baseball stadiums.

Of course, it does tend to get hot and humid in Florida in late August.

R.N.C. members interviewed said they had little hesitancy about joining what, as of now, is still planned as an arena full of Trump supporters cheering his nomination.

“If I can safely go to Walmart or a restaurant, I am confident we can safely gather to conduct the important business of the Republican Party renominating the president and vice president,” said Henry Barbour, an R.N.C. member from Mississippi. “We were prepared to work with folks in North Carolina to make it safe, and that is exactly what the R.N.C. is doing in Jacksonville.”

Jeff Sessions, trailing in the Alabama polls, says his campaign is ‘electrified.’

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Credit…September Dawn Bottoms/The New York Times

MOBILE, Ala. — Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican and former attorney general who is trying to reclaim his old Senate seat, was making his final appeal to voters on Monday before Tuesday’s runoff election against Tommy Tuberville, who is leading in the polls.

Mr. Sessions said in a brief interview on Monday afternoon that his recent appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” had “electrified” his campaign. He appeared last Tuesday on Mr. Carlson’s Fox News show, where the host praised the Republican as “one of the very few politicians I do respect.”

“We had $30,000 — small-dollar contributions — come in right after that,” Mr. Sessions said in between conversations with voters at a Cracker Barrel in Mobile.

It was a notable feat, he added, given that his opponent has had a fund-raising advantage for much of the primary.

Mr. Sessions declined to answer directly whether he would support Mr. Tuberville in the general election in the event that he does not win the runoff race against him. But he criticized his opponent for his regular refusal to engage with the news media.

“I’d like for y’all to ask Tommy Tuberville of that,” Mr. Sessions told reporters. “What’s he going to — who’s he going to support after the runoff if he loses? Where is he? He’s not available. He’s been hiding out now for two weeks.”

“Look, I’m a strong Republican,” Mr. Sessions added. “We need to win this seat. And I expect to advance that agenda.”

Tuesday’s election stands to lay bare the extent to which President Trump has turned Mr. Sessions’s own state against him. Before the Trump era, Mr. Sessions could do virtually no wrong in the eyes of Alabama’s Republicans, winning four Senate elections from 1997 to 2017, in one race without so much as a primary challenger.

But Mr. Trump has never forgiven his former attorney general from recusing himself from the federal investigation into Russia’s influence in the 2016 election, and has made it something of a personal mission to ensure that Mr. Sessions does not return to the Senate.

Accordingly, Mr. Trump has wholeheartedly embraced Mr. Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach, despite the candidate’s stances on issues such as immigration and trade that appear to diverge from the Trump agenda.

Texas Supreme Court rules against the state Republican Party holding an in-person convention.

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Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

In Texas, where the number of infections and deaths have spiked in recent weeks, the State Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit on Monday that had been filed by Republicans over the cancellation of their state party convention.

The court, an elected body made up entirely of Republicans, ruled 7 to 1 that while the Republican Party of Texas had a constitutional right to hold a convention in person, it did not extend to forcing a convention center to host the gathering during a pandemic.

“The Party argues it has constitutional rights to hold a convention and engage in electoral activities, and that is unquestionably true,” the court’s majority wrote. “But those rights do not allow it to simply commandeer use of the Center.”

The convention had been scheduled to start on Monday at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston and run until Saturday.

But the Houston First Corporation, directed by the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, terminated a licensing agreement last week for the use of the convention center by the state Republican Party. The corporation, a government entity that manages several city-owned buildings, cited “the unprecedented scope and severity of the Covid-19 epidemic in Houston.”

The state Republican Party sued the Houston First Corporation the next day, contending that the city-run convention center had breached the terms of its agreement.

Harris County, which includes Houston, is one of the areas in the country hit hardest by the resurgent virus.

The state G.O.P. chairman, James Dickey, said in a statement on Monday that the cancellation was politically motivated.

“We believe that Mayor Turner used his control of city-owned property to disenfranchise Republicans and attempt to deny them the opportunity to cast their votes for national delegates and electors in-person in Houston,” he said.

A new poll shows Biden leading in Texas.

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Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Could Texas really be in play for Joseph R. Biden Jr.? It’s a question political observers — and even the Biden campaign — are intensely debating.

On Sunday, a Dallas Morning News poll showed Mr. Biden had the support of 46 percent of the state’s registered voters, compared with 41 percent for President Trump.

Other recent polls have suggested a close race in Texas, but this was the first public survey to show Mr. Biden exceeding the margin of error.

As Mr. Trump’s poll numbers sag, Mr. Biden’s campaign is seriously considering investments in states that just months ago Democrats considered out of reach — the biggest prize being Texas, with its 38 electoral votes.

The state has voted Republican in every presidential election since Jimmy Carter won it in 1976, but Democrats see an opportunity to turn that around, driven by Texas’ growing Hispanic population and increasing frustration with Mr. Trump among independent voters.

The Morning News poll also found that M.J. Hegar, the Democratic establishment’s choice to challenge Senator John Cornyn in November, was on track to win Tuesday’s primary runoff.

In addition to the presidential and Senate races, Texas presents Democrats with numerous realistic opportunities to pick up House seats this year. A strong showing in November could also help Democrats capture a majority in the Texas State House and on the State Supreme Court. Both bodies could play a crucial role in the redistricting battles that are sure to follow the 2020 census.

George Soros’s foundation is making a major donation toward racial justice efforts.

The Open Society Foundations, the philanthropic group founded by the billionaire George Soros, will announce on Monday that it is investing $220 million in efforts to achieve racial equality in the United States.

The investment, a huge financial undertaking that comes during an extraordinary protest movement, will immediately reshape the landscape of Black political and civil rights organizations and support several of them for years to come.

“There is this call for justice in Black and brown communities, an explosion of not just sympathy but solidarity across the board,” said Patrick Gaspard, the president of Open Society. “So it’s time to double down.”

Of the $220 million, the foundation will invest $150 million in five-year grants for selected groups, including progressive and emerging organizations like the Black Voters Matter Fund and Repairers of the Breach, a group founded by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of the Poor People’s Campaign.

The money will also support more established Black political organizations like the Equal Justice Initiative, which was founded by the civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson and depicted in the 2019 movie “Just Mercy.”

The Open Society Foundations will invest an additional $70 million in local grants supporting changes to policing and criminal justice. This money will also be used for civic engagement opportunities.

Even before Monday’s announcement, progressive groups, Democratic candidates and racial justice organizations had been flooded with small-dollar donations, breaking giving records and allowing Joseph R. Biden Jr. as well as House and Senate candidates to post eye-popping fund-raising numbers.

It didn’t rain after all in New Hampshire, where Republicans await Trump’s return.

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Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

After President Trump canceled his planned outdoor rally Saturday because his campaign said there were concerns about a looming tropical storm, the rain never came, leaving Portsmouth, N.H., with a lovely New England summer day (and reporters with no news to cover).

The schedule change — technically a postponement — left local Trump supporters eager for the president to appear.

“The worst job in the world could be the weatherman because they’re always wrong,” said Chris Ager, a Republican national committeeman from New Hampshire. “There was initial disappointment that it was postponed because there was so much excitement and enthusiasm. Then with the weather, Monday morning quarterbacking is always great.”

Mr. Trump’s planned Portsmouth rally was to be his return to the campaign trail after he filled just one-third of an arena in Tulsa last month, a major embarrassment after his campaign manager bragged that more than one million supporters had requested tickets. The event was to take place outside and under a hangar at the Portsmouth International Airport.

Mr. Ager and Juliana Bergeron, New Hampshire’s other R.N.C. member, both said they believed the president would have drawn a large enough crowd to fill the airport space had the event taken place.

“I’m over in the southwest corner of the state and I received tons of calls” for tickets, Ms. Bergeron said. “If it had been a terrible storm everybody would have said he should have canceled it.”

Mr. Ager said he expects the Trump campaign to reschedule the Portsmouth event “within a couple of weeks.”

Howie Hawkins defends Jill Stein’s role in 2016 as he accepts the Green Party’s nomination.

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Credit…Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

Howie Hawkins, the Syracuse activist who is a perpetual candidate for state and local office in New York and who won the Green Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, said his party owed a debt of gratitude to Jill Stein, who remains widely blamed by Democrats for siphoning votes away from Hillary Clinton in her narrow loss to President Trump.

“The Green Party moves forward, standing on the shoulders of Jill Stein, and her running mates, Cheri Honkala and Ajamu Baraka,” Mr. Hawkins said in his nomination acceptance speech Saturday. “They brought the Green Party to another level in 2012 and again in 2016.”

Ms. Stein, who was the party’s presidential nominee in both of those elections and who has declined to seek the nomination this year, argued during her campaigns that there was little difference between the major-party candidates. The Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 said it was investigating links between Ms. Stein’s campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Hawkins credited Ms. Stein for the Green New Deal, which the Green Party touted for years but didn’t become a Democratic Party staple until after the 2018 midterm elections, when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arrived in Congress.

“Jill Stein put the Green New Deal, the signature issue of the Green Party in the 2010s, onto the national agenda,” Mr. Hawkins said. “But the Democrats have taken the slogan and watered down the content.”

Mr. Hawkins also joined many Democrats in criticizing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for conducting his campaign largely from his Delaware home because of coronavirus concerns.

“Where the hell is Joe Biden?” Mr. Hawkins said. “He lives within commuter distance of the White House press corps. He can command their attention. He should be holding news conferences and pounding away at what we need now — a test, trace, and isolate program to suppress the virus, like most other organized countries around the world.”

Here’s what Trump and Biden are doing today.

President Trump at 2 p.m. will host a meeting of “stakeholders positively impacted by law enforcement,” part of the White House’s effort to align itself and Republicans against groups seeking to defund police organizations. He also has a scheduled lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be appearing at online fund-raisers for his campaign.

As always, the public schedules released by the White House and Mr. Biden’s campaign are hardly a comprehensive accounting of their days, and both Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden often add or subtract appearances (and tweets) as days progress.

Reporting was contributed by Reid J. Epstein, Patrick Healy, Astead W. Herndon, Elaina Plott, Giovanni Russonello and Neil Vigdor.