Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.
We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail:
LEADING THE DAY: NEW WOODWARD BOOK ROCKS WASHINGTON, CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” is sending shockwaves through Washington and beyond this evening.
On Wednesday, a number of audio recordings of Woodward’s interviews with President TrumpDonald John TrumpCohen: ‘I guarantee that it’s not going to go well for whoever’ set up Woodward interview Pompeo says ‘substantial chance’ Navalny poisoning was ordered by senior Russian official Trump says he ‘almost definitely’ won’t read Woodward book MORE were released, in which Trump acknowledged the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic in February.
“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump told Woodward. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
“This is deadly stuff,” he said.
The comments from Trump made in February publicly contradict Trump’s public remarks in February in which he played down the threat of the virus.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says Trump downplaying coronavirus threat was ‘almost criminal’ Democrats fear Biden’s lagging Latino support could cost him Trump courts Florida voters with moratorium on offshore drilling MORE delivered a scathing rebuke of the comments during a speech in Warren, Mich., hours after the audio was released.
“He had the information. He knew how dangerous it was, and while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life and death betrayal of the American people,” Biden said.
Woodward’s book also contains conversations with Trump on a number of other topics. Trump told Woodward that former President Obama was “overrated” and that he didn’t think he was “smart.” The president also told Woodward that he doesn’t feel a responsibility “at all” to try have a better understanding of the pain Black Americans feel.
Additionally, Woodward reports in the book that former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Woodward book causes new firestorm | Book says Trump lashed out at generals, told Woodward about secret weapons system | US withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq The Hill’s Campaign Report: Woodward’s bombshells l Biden clobbers Trump in fundraising l Democrats swamp the airwaves Trump lashed out at generals in conversation with aide: Woodward book MORE told then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates that Trump was “dangerous” and “unfit.”
News of the released audio broke just before White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was set to address the press, forcing her to respond to the claims.
“The president has never lied to the American public on COVID. The president was expressing calm and his actions reflect that,” McEnany told reporters. “At a time when you’re facing insurmountable challenges, it’s important to express confidence, it’s important to express calm.”
Trump himself responded to the book at the White House on Wednesday, saying he was a “cheerleader” for the U.S.
“We want to show confidence, we want to show strength,” Trump said. “We don’t want to instill panic.”
Remember, these excerpts come two month before Election Day and follow last week’s explosive Atlantic article, which reports that Trump disparaged fallen U.S. service members. Polls show the public disapproves of the president’s handling of the coronavirus, which will be a major hurdle for him to overcome.
A lot can happen between now and November, but if explosive revelations about Trump continue to surface, his campaign will be busy on the defense.
Amid the uproar, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPessimism grows as hopes fade for coronavirus deal Trump acknowledged downplaying COVID-19 threat, says Woodward book The Hill’s Campaign Report: Woodward’s bombshells l Biden clobbers Trump in fundraising l Democrats swamp the airwaves MORE (D-Calif.) struck a confident tone about Democrats sweeping into power at the White House and Senate, while building on their majority in the House.
“It won’t be long,” Pelosi said during an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “In eight weeks we’ll be celebrating the election of Joe Biden and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Woodward’s bombshells l Biden clobbers Trump in fundraising l Democrats swamp the airwaves TV ads favored Biden 2-1 in past month Pelosi: ‘In eight weeks we’ll be celebrating the election of Joe Biden’ MORE, a Democratic Senate, a strengthened Democratic House of Representatives.”
The president on Wednesday released a list of 20 potential Supreme Court nominees he’d consider if he’s reelected to a second term.
In 2016, Trump’s list of potential judges was one of his primary selling points to skeptical conservatives that were hesitant to jump on board with his campaign.
There are three GOP senators on the list — Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonKentucky AG Daniel Cameron says he’s honored to appear on Trump’s list of potential SCOTUS nominees The Hill’s Campaign Report: Woodward’s bombshells l Biden clobbers Trump in fundraising l Democrats swamp the airwaves Hawley says ‘no interest’ in serving on Supreme Court after Trump floats his name MORE (R-Ark.) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Woodward’s bombshells l Biden clobbers Trump in fundraising l Democrats swamp the airwaves Hawley says ‘no interest’ in serving on Supreme Court after Trump floats his name Tom Cotton after Trump names him potential Supreme Court nominee: ‘It’s time for Roe v. Wade to go’ MORE (R-Mo.). Hawley said he’s not interested. Cruz said he’s “grateful” and expressed pride in helping to confirm more than 200 of the president’s judicial nominees. Cotton said “it’s time for Roe v. Wade to go.”
BIDEN ROUTS TRUMP IN FUNDRAISING:
The August numbers are out and they’re not pretty for the Trump campaign.
Trump and the Republican National Committee combined to raise $210 million last month. The Biden campaign and Democratic National Committee bested that by $154 million, raking in a record $364 million in August.
Neither campaign has released their most recent cash-on-hand numbers, but the campaigns were effectively tied at the end of July. It’s safe to say the president’s one-time advantage that stretched into the hundreds of millions of dollars has completely vanished.
The Trump campaign insists that money will not be an issue down the stretch. But Trump’s remarks this week that he’d be willing to put his own money into the race were a major red flag.
A new analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project found that since Aug. 10, the Biden campaign ran 92,000 ads at a cost of about $46 million, compared to the Trump campaign’s 26,000 ads at a cost of about $14 million.
In a statement, the Trump campaign said it was investing its August haul into its ground game.
“Both campaigns are raising massive amounts of money but have very different priorities about how to spend it,” said Trump campaign spokesman Bill Stepien. “In addition to advertising, President Trump’s campaign has invested heavily in a muscular field operation and ground game that will turn out our voters, while the Biden campaign is waging almost exclusively an air war. We like our strategy better.”
Biden has opened up a sizable lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, one of the most sought after battleground states, with a new NBC News/Marist poll showing him with a 53-44 percent edge over the president. More on that poll here.
That’s a bigger lead than the one shown in another poll from CNBC released on Wednesday that found Biden with a 4-point advantage over Trump, at 50-46 percent. CNBC polled a handful of battleground states, including North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, and found Biden leading across the board, with an aggregate 49-45 percent lead over Trump.
The best outlook for Biden was in Michigan and Wisconsin, where the former vice president led Trump by 6 points, according to CNBC polling. The closest fights are in Florida and North Carolina, where Biden is ahead by 3 points and 2 points, respectively.
We also have another new poll out of Wisconsin from Marquette University Law School, showing Biden leading Trump 47-43 percent. We have more on that here.