Trump sets aggressive schedule, while Biden, who remains ahead in the polls, is laying low until Thursday’s debate.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.
Trump said on Monday that he will participate in a debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday despite conditions that he considers unfair, including the candidates’ microphones being muted during segments of the face-off.
“I’ll participate, I just think it’s very unfair,” Trump told reporters. “I will participate but it’s very unfair that they changed the topics and it’s very unfair that again we have an anchor who’s totally biased.”
Trump’s campaign has written a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates challenging the list of topics selected by the moderator, NBC television host Kristen Welker.
The October 22 debate was supposed to focus on foreign policy, the Trump campaign alleged. But Welker’s announced topics are fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership. The lettered urged the commission to “rethink and reissue a set of topics … with an emphasis on foreign policy”.
The Republican Party has cut into Democrats’ advantage in voter registration tallies across some critical presidential battleground states, a fact they point to as evidence of steady — and overlooked — enthusiasm for Trump and his party, according to the Associated Press.
Even though Trump trails in national polls and struggles with fundraising with just weeks before Election Day, Republicans see their progress in signing up voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona and other states as a rare bright spot.
In Florida, Republicans netted 146,644 voters over Democrats since the pandemic hit in March, leaving Democrats with their smallest overall lead in party registrations since the state began tracking them in 1972, according to the news agency. In Pennsylvania, which Trump won with 44,000 votes in 2016, the GOP added 103,171 more voters since November than Democrats did.
Democrats have argued that Republican gains are partly illusory: Some of the GOP registrants are former Democratic voters who have been voting for Republicans, but who have not updated their registrations until now. They also note that young voters, who lean heavily Democratic, increasingly register as unaffiliated with either party, which helps pad the GOP’s advantage on paper but which might not help on Election Day.
Read more about not being fooled by high early voting numbers here.
Trump will campaign in Erie, Pennsylvania Monday night.
Trump narrowly won the battleground state’s 20 electoral votes in the 2016 election, but polls have shown Biden leading in the state. However, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday indicated that lead may be tightening.
Biden is originally from the state, a fact he has often referenced on the campaign trail.
Read more about the battle for Pennsylvania here.
Read all the updates from Monday, (October 19) here.