The Latest: Trump plans to debate Biden despite rule changes

Politics
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump waves as he steps off Air Force One at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 presidential campaign (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump plans to attend Thursday’s debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden despite rule changes — opposed by his campaign — that are meant to foster more ordered discussions.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien says Trump “is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate.”

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday that the second and final debate between the two candidates will have each nominee muted while the other delivers his two-minute remarks at the outset of each of the six debate topics. The remainder of each 15-minute block will be open discussion, without any muting, the commission said.

The move is meant to prevent a repeat of the inaugural debate three weeks ago when the two candidates, but mostly Trump, interrupted each other repeatedly.

The Biden campaign did not immediately comment on the new rule.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:

President Donald Trump held rallies in Arizona after campaigning over the weekend in California and Nevada. His Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, was in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday.

Read more:

— Some states allow ballots of folks who voted early but die before Election Day.

— Suburban women are leading a rebellion against Trump.

— Upcoming debate offers Trump a chance to generate momentum.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

7:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will have their microphones cut off in Thursday’s debate while their rival delivers their opening two-minute answer to each of the debate topics.

The 90-minute debate is divided into six 15-minute segments, with each candidate granted two minutes to deliver uninterrupted remarks before proceeding to an open debate. The open discussion portion of the debate will not feature a mute button, but interruptions by either candidate will count toward their time in the second and final debate Thursday.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced the rule changes Monday, three weeks after a chaotic opening faceoff between the two presidential contenders that featured frequent interruptions — most by Trump.

The commission has faced pressure from the Trump campaign to avoid changing the rules, while Biden’s team was hoping for a more ordered debate. In a statement, the commission said it “had determined that it is appropriate to adopt measures intended to promote adherence to agreed upon rules and inappropriate to make changes to those rules.”

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7:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is promoting his efforts to combat rising drug prices.

Trump told supporters in Tucson, Arizona, on Monday that for years, people complained about rising drug prices, but nobody did anything until he was in the White House.

He is predicting that drug prices are going to be dropping “like a lot.”

Trump has taken actions to reduce patient costs for some drugs, such as insulin, but the steps have been less ambitious than those in a bill from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that the House passed last year.

Trump’s plan to mail millions of seniors a $200 prescription savings card has hit legal and budget roadblocks, making it unlikely the government can carry it out before Election Day.

Democratic lawmakers have raised questions about whether the administration has the authority to unilaterally order billions of dollars in Medicare spending for what the Democrats say are political reasons.

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5:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is deploying a new attack line against Joe Biden, saying his Democratic presidential opponent “wants to listen to Dr. Fauci.” Biden says that’s correct.

Trump made the comment Monday at a campaign rally in Prescott, Arizona, after criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci during a conference call with campaign staff. Trump told the staff that Fauci is an “idiot” and a “disaster.”

Fauci is the nation’s top infectious-disease expert and a member of Trump’s White House coronavirus task force. The doctor is both respected and popular, and Trump’s rejection of scientific advice on the pandemic has already drawn bipartisan condemnation.

Biden’s campaign says Trump is using staunch opposition to science as his “closing argument” as Election Day looms. Responding on Twitter to Trump’s accusation that Biden wants to listen to Fauci, Biden wrote, “…yes.”

Fauci said on a “60 Minutes” episode that aired Sunday that he and his family have been receiving death threats from people angry over coronavirus restrictions.

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2:30 p.m.

Joe Biden’s campaign says President Donald Trump is using staunch opposition to science as his “closing argument” as Election Day looms.

During a campaign conference call on Monday, Trump called Dr. Anthony Fauci “a disaster” and other top infectious-disease scientists “idiots.” The president blamed them for what he argued was the nation’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, did not answer questions on Trump’s comments as he left the taping of a television interview in Delaware on Monday.

But his campaign released a statement noting that the pandemic has now killed nearly 220,000 Americans, seen more than 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide and cost millions of jobs.

“Trump’s closing message in the final days of the 2020 race is to publicly mock Joe Biden for trusting science,” Biden’s campaign said in statement. “Trump is mocking Biden for listening to science. Science. The best tool we have to keep Americans safe, while Trump’s reckless and negligent leadership threatens to put more lives at risk.”

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1:05 p.m.

Joe Biden is taping a television interview, the only thing on his light, pre-debate public schedule this week.

The Democratic nominee’s motorcade rolled shortly after noon on Monday from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to the Queen, a downtown theater where his campaign has built a makeshift studio and stage for its candidate to hold virtual events, as well as some speeches and press conferences in person. Biden was taping an interview with “60 Minutes,” which was scheduled to air on CBS next weekend.

Biden’s traveling press pool caught a glimpse of him entering the theater, but he did not answer questions.

Biden has nothing else on his public schedule this week except Thursday night’s debate in Nashville, Tennessee. His campaign says he plans to use the bulk of the remaining time preparing for the second and final time he is scheduled to face off with President Donald Trump before Election Day on Nov. 3.

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12:50 p.m.

Kamala Harris has returned to the campaign trail after a brief absence when people connected with her team tested positive for the coronavirus.

Harris kicked off her return at a car rally in Orlando on Monday to mark the first day of early voting in Florida, a critical swing state. She’ll later campaign in Jacksonville.

The Democratic ticket is largely forgoing traditional campaign rallies because of the risk of spreading the virus. But Harris was energized as she bounded onto the outdoor stage in Orlando, dancing and shouting greetings to the crowd as they honked their horns in support.

She largely stuck to the campaign message of outlining President Donald Trump’s failures in tackling the pandemic and urging people to cast their ballots early.

She told the crowd: “You will be the first to put our country back on the right track.”

Harris halted travel Thursday after her communications director and a member of the flight crew for her travel tested positive for the virus. The campaign said Harris did not need to quarantine under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, but she paused travel for four days.

She has repeatedly tested negative for the virus.

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12:35 p.m.

Melania Trump plans to make her first public appearance since recovering from the coronavirus disease, joining President Donald Trump at a Pennsylvania campaign rally.

It was not immediately clear if the first lady also planned to address Trump supporters in Erie.

Tuesday’s rally in Pennsylvania will be the first campaign trail appearance for Mrs. Trump since she spoke briefly at a June 2019 event in Orlando, Florida, where the president launched his reelection effort.

She addressed the Republican National Convention in August from the White House.

Mrs. Trump recently announced that she has recovered from a bout with COVID-19 that included headaches, body aches and fatigue. She also revealed that the couple’s 14-year-old son, Barron, had contracted the virus, never had symptoms and has since tested negative.

Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman says she also plans to attend Thursday’s presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee.

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11:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says people are tired of hearing from Dr. Anthony Fauci “and all these idiots” about the coronavirus.

Trump has made no secret of his growing impatience with Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.

Speaking Monday to campaign staffers, Trump called Fauci a “disaster” but said he’d create bigger issues for himself if he fired the doctor.

Fauci is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

Trump has needled Fauci over his advice on wearing face masks.

Nearly 220,000 Americans have died from the disease the virus causes.

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11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is bucking up his campaign staffers 15 days from Election Day, amid worrisome public and private polling.

On a conference call Monday, Trump says, “We’re going to win. I wouldn’t have told you that maybe two or three weeks ago.”

Addressing stories about declining morale at his campaign, Trump said he’s never been more confident in his chances, “Today is the best single day that I’ve felt on either campaign.”

He added: “We have never been in as strong a position as we are today.”

Trump encouraged his staffers to ignore news reports about the state of the race.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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