The Latest: Trump says he may fire disease specialist Fauci

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

12:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is suggesting that he will fire the nation’s top infectious disease expert after Tuesday’s election, as he expresses frustration that the coronavirus remains in the news amid a nationwide spike of COVID-19.

Rallying supporters after midnight in Florida, Trump suggested that the virus would get less news coverage after Election Day. It sparked part of the crowd to chant “Fire Fauci,” in reference to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Trump replied to the crowd, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.” He has previously expressed that he was concerned about the political blowback of removing the popular and respected doctor before Election Day. He added he appreciated the “advice” of the crowd.

Fauci has grown outspoken that Trump has ignored his advice for containing the virus, saying he hasn’t spoken with Trump in more than a month. He has raised alarm that the nation was heading for a challenging winter if more isn’t done soon to slow the spread of the disease which has killed more than 230,000 Americans so far this year.

10:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is expressing confidence that he already has victory in Georgia assured as he campaigns in the newly competitive battleground two days before Election Day.

Trump told thousands of supporters at a rally in northwestern Georgia that his aides told him he had the state “made.”

“They said sir you don’t have to come to Georgia. We have it made.”

He adds: “They said this morning, honestly, you can skip Georgia.”

The state, like much of the country, has seen record turnout in early voting, as Democrats aim to capture demographic changes to find a new pathway to the presidency through the state. Trump is wagering on a boom of Republican votes to help him overcome Democratic advantages in early voting.

He said in Rome: “Wait until you see what’s going to happen with the great red wave.”

7:05 p.m.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama are putting 2020 in starkly religious terms as part of a last-minute push for Black voters to help Joe Biden defeat President Donald Trump.

Harris used remarks recorded for a Biden campaign virtual gospel concert Sunday evening to frame this election year as “a time to honestly grapple with what our faith requires of us” and “what it means to live the values it teaches.” She said the results “will determine our moral direction for years to come.” Neither Harris nor Obama mentioned Trump, but alluded to the president’s sometimes racist rhetoric and divisive policies.

Obama lamented “the outright rejection of the inherent humanity of all God’s children in ways that grieve the almighty.”

The virtual gospel hour has been a regular feature as part of the campaign’s outreach to different faith groups. Biden’s Roman Catholic faith is a major part of his public identity. Harris is Baptist.

Harris said the year’s challenges reminded her of a verse from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,” she said, quoting from Isaiah 43:2. “And when pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.”

Obama quoted several biblical passages as well, including Galatians 6:9. “Let us not become weary in doing good,” Obama said, “but at the proper time we will reap the harvest if we do not give up.”

6:45 p.m.

Joe Biden says he’ll take on the coronavirus pandemic, but first he has to defeat another “virus”: Donald Trump.

Speaking to dozens of cars parked in a muddy field at a downtown Philadelphia park, Biden told the crowd that “the truth is, to beat the virus, we first have to beat Donald a Trump – he is the virus!”

Despite a light rain coming down, many in the crowd sat atop their cars or stood in the mud under umbrellas to watch Biden speak. Supporters honked their horns throughout the speech, while others waved signs and cheered.

Biden closed out a day of campaigning in Philadelphia with a critique of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He said Trump was “a disgrace” to suggest that doctors inflate COVID cases for cash.

He set the stakes for the crowd, telling them Pennsylvania is “critical” to his chances. But he expressed optimism at the outcome Tuesday, saying that “when America is heard, I believe the message is going to be clear: it’s time for Trump to pack his bags and go home.”

6:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s preparing for legal challenges to the counting of mail and absentee votes in Pennsylvania. Speaking to reporters in Charlotte ahead of a rally in Hickory, NC Trump says: “We’re going in the night of — as soon as the election is over — we’re going in with our lawyers.”

Trump has repeatedly attacked the Supreme Court in recent days for not blocking the counting of late arriving ballots for days after Election Day. Trump aides believe Democrat Joe Biden has a substantial lead in early ballots but are betting on strong Republican turnout Tuesday to pull off a win,

6:10 p.m.

Kamala Harris declared a vote for Joe Biden is a vote for someone who supports democracy, will enhance America’s standing in the world and conducts himself with dignity during a campaign stop in North Carolina.

She says Trump, by contrast, offers none of those things. Harris made her remarks to a small crowd in Goldsboro, a majority Black city in Wayne County. It was her first of two Sunday stops in North Carolina.

In 2016, Trump won the county where she was campaigning.

Harris, the first Black woman on a major party presidential ticket, has been trying to appeal directly to Black voters in key swing states. She gave a shout out to people in the crowd wearing representing historically Black fraternities and sororities. Harris was part of Alpha Kappa Alpha at Howard University. She said North Carolinians are more familiar than most with attempts at voter suppression. She’s citing a previous state voter ID law that was struck down by a court that said it targeted African Americans with surgical precision.

Fewer than 50 people were in the park, but several dozen more people gathered in a nearby parking lot.

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5:30 p.m.

Joe Biden is denouncing disruptive demonstrations by supporters of President Donald Trump across the country.

Speaking at a canvass kickoff in the Philadelphia suburbs, Biden referenced a recent effort by Trump supporters to swarm a Biden campaign bus and drive it off the road in Texas. Trump tweeted a video of the caravan and declared, “I LOVE TEXAS!” Biden also referenced reports that Trump supporters shut down a major roadway in New Jersey.

“We’ve never had anything like this. At least we’ve never had a president who thinks it’s a good thing,” Biden said.

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3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is predicting a “red wave” of Election Day votes for him, aiming to overcome Democratic leads in early votes.

Speaking to supporters in Dubuque, Iowa, Trump says, “I like Election Day, and most of you do too.”

Trump was aiming to boost that turnout in a final campaign blitz with 10 rallies over two days across battleground states.

Trump turned the microphone over to his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, who said it’s time for Trump‘s supporters to have his back.

She says: “He fights so hard for each of us every single day, and now you can fight for him.”

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

With two days to go until Election Day, Democrat Joe Biden is campaigning in Philadelphia and President Donald Trump’s schedule has him in Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Read more:

— GOP tries to save its Senate majority, with or without Trump

— Networks line up election law experts for vote coverage

— Preelection virus spike creates concerns for polling places

— Races for governor take top billing in Missouri, Montana

— EU faces knotty trade fights with US — no matter who wins

— Obama criticizes Trump in scathing, personal terms

— Biden looks to restore, expand Obama administration policies

— Expect a lot more of the same if Trump wins a second term

— US Paris climate pact exit, vote may dictate how world warms

— Under Trump, citizenship and visa agency focuses on fraud

— Election could move California further left on taxes, race

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE HAPPENING:

2:50 p.m.

Joe Biden will close out his campaign where he began it, in Pittsburgh, where he’ll hold a rally Monday night.

Pittsburgh was the site of Biden’s first campaign rally, back in April 2019. He described Pittsburgh for Democrats as one of the “places where lately we’ve had a little bit of a struggle.” At the time, he said, “If I’m going to be able to beat Donald Trump in 2020, it’s going to happen here.”

Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County went for Hillary Clinton in 2016. But Trump’s appeal with white working-class voters in the surrounding counties helped deliver him a win in Pennsylvania that year.

Biden has focused much of his campaign on winning back blue-collar voters disaffected with Trump’s economic policies, and has a long history of campaigning in Pittsburgh with union leaders.

His visit will cap off a busy day of events as Biden, his wife Jill, running mate Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, fan out for a final barnstorm of the state that’s central to the race.

Harris and Emhoff will appear at a rally Monday night in Philadelphia, a key base of Democratic support in the state. And both Biden and Harris will receive a celebrity boost for their final events. Lady Gaga is set to join Biden in Pittsburgh, while John Legend will perform in Philadelphia.

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2:45 p.m.

Dr. Scott Atlas, one of President Donald Trump’s science advisers, is apologizing after appearing on the Russian state-funded TV channel RT to criticize lockdown measures aimed at stemming the coronavirus.

In a tweet Sunday, Atlas wrote he was unaware that RT was a registered foreign agent. He said he regretted the interview and apologized, particularly to the national security community, “for allowing myself to be taken advantage of.”

Atlas told RT over the weekend that he considered the COVID-19 pandemic to be mostly under control and that it was actually lockdowns that are “killing people.”

RT is registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which applies to people or companies disseminating information in the U.S. on behalf of foreign governments, political parties and other “foreign principals.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have alleged RT served as a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin as part of a multi-pronged effort to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia denies interfering.

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1:40 p.m.

Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris is thanking Democratic voting rights activist Stacey Abrams for proving Georgia is now a battleground state.

Campaigning in Duluth outside Atlanta, Harris said Abrams’ 2018 governor’s race solidified Georgia’s status as more than a Republican stronghold. Harris narrowly lost her bid to become the first Black woman governor in U.S. history. Two years later, Georgia is a presidential tossup.

Harris told a few hundred supporters at a drive-in rally, “Look at where we are in Georgia.”

Georgia hasn’t sided with Democrats in a presidential race since 1992, and Trump can’t afford to lose its 16 electoral votes. The president is headed to Rome, Georgia, on Sunday evening.

Abrams reminded the rally that her loss included hours-long voting line, which she called a sign of election officials’ “incompetence” and not just voter enthusiasm. She urged Democrats to stick it out Tuesday.

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1:20 p.m.

Exuberant Joe Biden supporters on Sunday got admonished at an Atlanta-area drive-in rally because they’d gotten out of their cars and congregated along the railing near the stage where Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris was about to speak.

A few hundred Biden-Harris supporters in Duluth stood masked but not socially distanced through several speeches from Georgia warm-up acts: Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, who’s trying to unseat Republican Sen David Perdue; Rep. Lucy McBath, who flipped a suburban Atlanta district in 2018; and Rep. Hank Johnson, a veteran congressman from a heavily Democratic district in metro Atlanta.

None of the Democrats on the ballot this year took issue with their supporters’ close company. But when Johnson finished, a Biden staffer instructed supporters to go back to their cars, because “we are not a Trump rally.”

Trump has spent the fall campaign flouting public health guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, holding rallies without enforcing masks or imposing social distancing.

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12:25 p.m.

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris says Black voters are critical to defeating President Donald Trump and electing Joe Biden president.

But as the California senator arrived to campaign in Georgia on Sunday, she stressed that “we are not telling anybody they’re supposed to vote for us” and are working to “earn the vote.”

Harris is the first Black woman on a major party national ticket. A considerable part of her campaign time this fall has been focused on Black voters and in states with prominent Black populations.

Sunday marks her second trip to Atlanta in the campaign’s closing weeks. She will head to Pennsylvania on Monday.

Democrats haven’t won Georgia’s electoral votes since 1992 and Pennsylvania slipped away narrowly four years ago. But Black turnout in both states could tip the scales Tuesday.

Harris said it’s an “ongoing job” for the Democratic ticket to show Black voters that a Biden White House understands the “disproportionate impact” Black Americans have endured from the COVID-19 pandemic and longstanding economic and social inequities.

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11:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is braving flurries and a stiff wind chill as he rallies thousands of supporters in Michigan.

Trump took the stage Sunday in Washington Township and told the crowd: “It’s freezing out here.”

The president is aiming to run up support in the whiter, more rural parts of Michigan as Democrat Joe Biden was in the state Saturday with former President Barack Obama in a bid to increase turnout among Black voters.

Trump expressed confidence and said of Biden, “I don’t think he knows he’s losing.”

It’s the first stop of Trump’s final blitz of 10 rallies in the final 48 hours of the campaign. On Sunday, he is also visiting Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

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11:35 a.m.

Joe Biden is spending the final Sunday before Election Day rallying voters in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania.

Biden will make two stops in Philadelphia on Sunday — an appearance at a Baptist church for a “Souls to the Polls” event, and a rally in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park downtown.

Biden’s return to Philadelphia underscores the significance of Pennsylvania, the Rust Belt state that helped deliver President Donald Trump the White House four years ago. Biden has visited Pennsylvania more times than any other battleground state this cycle, and Philadelphia remains a key base of Democratic support in the state. Biden and the rest of his top surrogates — his wife Jill, Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff — will also fan out across the state on Monday.

While Biden’s campaign argues the Democrat can still win without Pennsylvania, Trump’s path to victory would narrow considerably without the state’s 20 electoral votes. The president has made Pennsylvania a priority as well – he held four rallies across the state on Saturday, and will return Monday for a campaign event in Scranton, Biden’s hometown.

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9:45 a.m.

The government’s top infectious diseases expert is cautioning that the U.S. will have to deal with “a whole lot of hurt” in the weeks ahead due to surging coronavirus cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments in a Washington Post interview take issue with President Donald Trump’s frequent assertion that the nation is “rounding the turn” on the virus.

Fauci says the U.S. “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” to stem rising cases as more people gather indoors during the colder fall and winter months. He says the U.S. will need to make an “abrupt change” in public health precautions.

Speaking of the risks, Fauci says he believes Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective.” Fauci, who’s on the White House coronavirus task force, says that perspective is “the economy and reopening the country.”

In response, White House spokesman Judd Deere says Trump always puts people’s well-being first and Deere charges that Fauci has decided “to play politics” right before Tuesday’s election.

Deere says Fauci “has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy” but instead is “choosing to criticize the president in the media and make his political leanings known.”

Fauci has said that in his decades of public service, he’s never publicly endorsed any political candidate.

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

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