The Commission on Presidential Debates is poised to take an additional step to enforce the rules of Thursday’s final matchup between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr.
As in the first debate, each candidate will be allotted two minutes of speaking time to initially answer the moderator’s questions. But under a plan being finalized by the commission on Monday, his opponent’s microphone would be turned off during that period, an attempt to ensure an uninterrupted response.
After the candidates finish their two-minute replies, they would be allowed to freely engage with one another for the remainder of the segment. (The debate is divided into six segments of 15 minutes apiece.)
Two people with knowledge of the commission’s discussions outlined the proposed microphone change for Thursday’s debate, requesting anonymity to share plans that had yet to be formally announced. An announcement could come as soon as Monday evening.
The Thursday debate in Nashville, to be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC News, marks the final meeting of the campaign between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden. The debate commission had pledged to avoid a repeat of the chaos that ensued at last month’s first debate in Cleveland, when Mr. Trump frequently interrupted Mr. Biden and the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News.
The commission’s proposal could create the potential for technical gaffes. Mr. Trump’s voice, for instance, may be picked up by Mr. Biden’s microphone, and vice versa, meaning that an attempted interruption still may be heard, at least faintly, by viewers watching at home.
After the Cleveland debate, the commission released a statement saying that “additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.” But the organizers were slow to agree on any new rules, particularly after a tumultuous week in which an attempt to convert the second debate in Miami into a virtual event prompted Mr. Trump to withdraw. The second debate was eventually canceled, and each candidate held a televised town hall with voters instead.
Mr. Trump and his aides have signaled deep hostility to any outside control of the candidates’ microphones during the debates. In a letter on Monday to the Debate Commission, sent before the announcement of the new rules, the president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said it would be “completely unacceptable” for “an unnamed person” to shut off a candidate’s microphone.
“A decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the commission,” Mr. Stepien wrote, going on to baselessly accuse the nonpartisan commission of bias toward Mr. Biden.
In the letter, Mr. Stepien — who mockingly referred to the nonpartisan commission as the “Biden Debate Commission” in a tweet — claimed the commission had “promised” that the Nashville debate would be about foreign policy and asked for it to discard the six subjects announced last week by the moderator, Ms. Welker. They are “fighting Covid-19,” “American families,” “race in America,” climate change, national security and leadership.
It is true that in some campaign years, the third presidential debate has focused on foreign policy. But the debate organizers did not announce such a plan in 2020, saying that the third debate would mirror the format of the first, with six subjects selected by the moderator.
The debate commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Biden spokesman, T. J. Ducklo, said earlier on Monday that Mr. Stepien sent the letter “because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous Covid response.”
“The campaigns and the commission agreed months ago that the debate moderator would choose the topics,” Mr. Ducklo said in a statement.
The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a ruling by Pennsylvania’s highest court that allowed election officials to count some mailed ballots received up to three days after Election Day. The state is a key battleground in the presidential election.
The Supreme Court’s action was the result of a deadlock. It takes five votes to grant a stay, and the Republicans who had asked the court to intervene could only muster four: Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. On the other side of the divide were Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s three-member liberal wing — Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Neither side gave reasons. The result suggested that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, could play a decisive role in election disputes. She is expected to be confirmed next week.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, tried to shut down the Senate on Monday in protest of President Trump’s push to install Judge Amy Coney Barrett, his Supreme Court nominee, before Election Day.
Mr. Schumer called for the chamber to adjourn until after the November election, unless an elusive deal is reached on a stimulus measure to address the ongoing toll of the pandemic. His effort — a largely symbolic move designed to showcase the rush to confirm Judge Barrett — failed on a party-line vote, but it suggested that Democrats plan to use procedural tactics aimed at slowing or stopping the move in the days to come, spotlighting the rush to confirm her as they make their closing arguments to voters.
“We are not going to have business as usual here in the Senate,” Mr. Schumer said. “Their abuse of the Supreme Court process means we will not have business as usual — not now, not until Republicans stop their mad dash to confirm a Supreme Court justice mere days before a presidential election.”
The Judiciary Committee is scheduled on Thursday to approve the nomination of Judge Barrett, a constitutional originalist who personally opposes abortion rights and styles herself in the mold of the archconservative former justice, Antonin Scalia.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, planned to advance the nomination over the weekend in time for a final vote on Oct. 26, just over a week before the election.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Monday instructed Democratic committee chairmen to work with the top Republicans on their panels to try to resolve critical differences holding up a broad stimulus deal with the Trump administration, racing against a self-imposed Tuesday deadline for a compromise that could be considered before the election.
The directive came after she and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, held their latest talks, speaking for nearly an hour by phone on Monday afternoon. The two “continued to narrow their differences,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said, adding, “the speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election.”
The odds of a last-minute deal remain long, with Democrats and the Trump administration still haggling over funding levels and policy issues. Even if they could agree, Senate Republicans have all but ruled out embracing a plan anywhere near as large as the more than $2 trillion package under discussion.
If such a deal were struck, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said the chamber would consider it, but he also made a point of scheduling two separate votes in the coming days on narrower bills of the kind senators in his party are more willing to accept. One would revive a lapsed federal loan program for small businesses and the other would provide $500 billion for schools, testing and expired unemployment benefits.
President Trump has insisted in recent days that he wants to spend more than the $2.4 trillion Ms. Pelosi has put forward in negotiations, and claimed he could easily cajole enough Senate Republicans into supporting an agreement of that size — a notion that many of them have told his top deputies would never happen.
In a private call with Democrats on Monday, Ms. Pelosi outlined a number of remaining areas of disagreement, including Democratic demands for hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for state and local governments, support for restaurants devastated by the pandemic and additional health provisions, according to a person on the call, who disclosed the details on condition of anonymity. Democrats also remain wary that the administration would spend the funds as Congress intended.
Still, Ms. Pelosi insisted she was optimistic a bargain could be reached and said she was intent on reaching one before a new Democratic administration began in January.
“I don’t want to carry over the droppings of this grotesque elephant into the next presidency,” Ms. Pelosi told her members. “We’ve got to get something big, and we’ve got to get it done soon and we’ve got to get it done right.”
President Trump attacked Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, as “a disaster” on Monday and said, despite experts’ warnings that the nation was headed toward another peak in the coronavirus outbreak, that people were “tired” of hearing about the virus and wanted to be left alone.
The president issued his first broadsides against Dr. Fauci on Monday morning during a call with campaign staff that reporters listened in on, but then amplified them on Twitter and in remarks to reporters after landing in Arizona for a pair of rallies.
“People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong,” Mr. Trump said in the call with campaign staff, which began with his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, talking about the Republican ground game and other factors that he said supported Mr. Trump’s path to victory.
Mr. Trump also called Dr. Fauci a “nice” guy, but he said, “He’s been here for 500 years,” and added, “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. This guy’s a disaster.”
The attack on Dr. Fauci comes as the United States has seen more coronavirus cases — over 8 million — and more deaths — nearly 220,000 — than any other nation in the world. The president’s advisers have tried to get him to lay off the infectious diseases specialist, who remains popular.
It also comes after Dr. Fauci, in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, dismissed the president’s claim that the end of the pandemic was just around the corner. Dr. Fauci said during the interview that he was not surprised that Mr. Trump had contracted the virus, citing the failure to take basic precautions at White House events, including the announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Dr. Fauci said. “When I saw that on TV, I said, ‘Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that, that’s got to be a problem.’ And then sure enough, it turned out to be a superspreader event.”
And after “60 Minutes” reported that the Trump administration had restricted Dr. Fauci’s media appearances, Mr. Trump struck back on Twitter. In a pair of tweets, he complained that Dr. Fauci “seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope,” adding, “All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions.” The president also criticized Dr. Fauci for “perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!”
He continued his criticism of Dr. Fauci after landing in Arizona for the first of two scheduled rallies in the state, which is experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases.
Speaking to reporters after deplaning Air Force One, Mr. Trump called Dr. Fauci “a very nice man” but complained that he “loves being on television” and has made “a lot of bad calls.” Asked why he didn’t fire Dr. Fauci, Mr. Trump said, “He’s been there for about 350 years. I don’t want to hurt him.”
Mr. Trump’s attacks on Dr. Fauci led Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to become the latest Republican to distance himself from the president. “Dr. Fauci is one of our country’s most distinguished public servants,” said Mr. Alexander, who is retiring this year. “He has served six presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan. If more Americans paid attention to his advice, we’d have fewer cases of Covid-19, and it would be safer to go back to school and back to work and out to eat.”
Mr. Trump has bristled at Dr. Fauci’s superior approval ratings. A poll released late last month by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that 68 percent of Americans trusted Dr. Fauci either a great deal or a fair amount to provide reliable information about the virus, while only 40 percent trusted Mr. Trump.
THE STATE OF THE STATES
President Trump told voters in Arizona that Americans are “getting tired of the pandemic” and accused the media of exaggerating the crisis, as he sought to make up ground in a traditionally Republican state where the virus is making a comeback.
“Your state is doing great with the pandemic,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re getting tired of the pandemic, aren’t they? You turn on CNN. That’s all they cover: Covid, Covid, pandemic. Covid, Covid, Covid.”
“You know why? They’re trying to talk people out of voting,” Mr. Trump added. “People aren’t buying it, CNN, you dumb bastards,” he said to cheers.
After landing in the state earlier in the day, Mr. Trump complimented its Republican governor, Doug Ducey, saying that Arizona was “really in great shape.”
Here’s a snapshot of how the state has been doing on two of the biggest issues of the day: the coronavirus and the economy.
Arizona has had 231,910 coronavirus cases, the eighth highest total in the nation, and 5,830 deaths, the 11th highest total, according to a New York Times database.
Early in the summer it led the nation in new infections per capita, part of a surge in Sun Belt states that had opened quickly in late spring. It hit a peak of 4,797 new cases one day in late June, but new infections declined after Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, reversed himself and allowed local governments to require residents to wear masks.
Over the past week, there have been an average of 796 cases per day, an increase of 58 percent from the average two weeks earlier.
Arizona’s unemployment rate in September was 6.7 percent, according to Moody’s Analytics — lower than the national average of 7.9 percent. But to answer one of the most basic questions of a re-election campaign — are you better off today than you were four years ago? — unemployment in the state is higher than it was in September 2016, when it stood at 5.3 percent.
Recent polling has shown Mr. Biden with a lead of as much as eight points in Arizona, a traditionally Republican state that is growing more Democratic. Early voting has been underway in the state for nearly two weeks. Mr. Trump is scheduled to hold a second rally, in Tucson, this evening.
Early voting is kicking off this week in two hotly contested battlegrounds, Florida and Wisconsin, with indications that the record-shattering early turnout seen last week in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina will be repeated in these must-win states for President Trump.
In all, 11 states will allow voters to begin casting ballots this week, with Florida opening its polls on Monday and Wisconsin’s early-voting period kicking off on Tuesday.
Mr. Trump won both states by about 1 percentage point in 2016, but his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., holds durable if modest leads in polls of likely voters.
On Monday morning, hundreds of people lined up outside polling stations in South Florida despite early-morning downpours — with a rainbow appearing over Miami Gardens to the delight over voters waiting to cast ballots.
Polls will remain open for early voting through the end of the month.
Other states to open at least some polling locations this week include Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, North Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.
As the polls open, the registration period for voting by mail is closing this week in Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri and New Mexico.
Turnout for early voting broke records in some parts of Texas and Georgia, especially urban and suburban areas with high concentrations of Democratic voters. Some states, Georgia in particular, have been grappling with technical issues that have created long delays. Other states, like Texas, are locked in partisan legal battles over voter access and the use of drop boxes to enable easier voting amid the pandemic.
In general, Democrats are more open to using alternative voting methods — either by mail or by voting early in person — than Republicans, putting intense pressure on the Republican Party to get out the vote on Election Day.
The Florida Division of Elections reported on Saturday that 49 percent of mail-in ballots received so far had come from Democrats, compared with 30 percent from Republicans. The other 21 percent came from unaffiliated or third-party voters, many of whom lean to the right in Florida, making it difficult to assess whether Democrats have a large lead in mail-in voting.
There is no doubt, however, about the scale of the balloting. Many counties, especially in Democratic cities and suburban areas, are reporting record-breaking tallies.
The Florida division reported that 2,423,573 people — more than 17 percent of the state’s registered voters — had already mailed in ballots.
The Early Vote
More than 29 million Americans have already cast ballots in the 2020 election, including more than 4 million in Texas — which is nearly half as many Texans as voted during the entire 2016 election, according to data collected by the United States Elections Project.
The huge surge in early voting has campaigns and voting experts alike trying to figure out whether it means that turnout will be unusually high this year, or simply that more people are voting earlier than they normally would because of fears of the coronavirus and mail delays.
“The question of course, is it going to continue?” Dr. Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at University of Florida who tracks early voting for the United States Election Project, said in an interview. “The usual pattern is that this activity only increases as we get closer to Election Day.”
The Texas early numbers are staggering, according to data collected by Dr. McDonald. As of Monday afternoon:
4,064,685 voters in Texas have already voted.
Turnout is already 45.3 percent of what it was in the entire 2016 election.
3,490,292 Texans have voted in person.
574,393 voters have returned mail-in ballots.
The North Carolina Board of Elections instructed statewide election officials on Monday to begin the “curing” process, which is when voters are contacted and allowed to address issues with their absentee ballots, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times on Monday.
The process had been on hold for weeks thanks to multiple lawsuits, leaving thousands of ballots — roughly 40 percent of which belonged to Black voters statewide — in a “pending review” queue and voters unaware of whether their ballots would be counted.
But on Monday, the board of elections released guidance stating that voters who did not sign their voter certification, who signed in the wrong place or who have errors in their witness information will be allowed to correct their ballots.
Those ballots missing a witness signature or whose envelopes arrived unsealed will be considered spoiled, and election officials will have to mail new ballots to the voter.
In all cases, election officials are required to contact the voter to inform them whether they are able to address problems with their ballots or whether a new ballot will be sent.
The guidance from the state board of elections also reiterated that election officials do not have to perform any signature matching diligence on a voter’s signature.
Last week, a federal judge had blocked officials from allowing voters to address a missing witness signature but said that deficient information, like a missing or incomplete address, could still be added. But Democrats vowed to appeal, and the curing process remained on hold.
Voting rights experts had expressed alarm about the delay, citing concerns about whether voters whose ballots had been rejected because of correctable errors would have enough time to request a new ballot and return it before Election Day.
“The longer a voter says, ‘Oh I turned in my ballot, it must be good,’ when they do finally hear from the county, they might be more suspicious about it, considering how much disinformation there is going around,” said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, a voting rights group.
Democrats have spent months hammering President Trump for his handling of the coronavirus in their ads. With just over two weeks left until Election Day, Mr. Trump’s campaign has a new ad attacking Joseph R. Biden Jr. on the issue that also tries to recast the White House’s pandemic response, which has dragged down the president’s re-election prospects.
The 30-second ad is split into two parts. The first half lashes out at Mr. Biden, accusing him of having “no real plan” for the virus and charging that his response has been to “criticize, complain and surrender.”
Then the music shifts as the narrator declares “President Trump is leading” as he appears in multiple scenes wearing a mask, which he has mostly avoided doing in public, including after he contracted the coronavirus. The ad then hails Mr. Trump for “attacking the virus head on.” The narrator declares: “Under President Trump, we will be careful but resolute. And we will defeat this virus.”
The ad’s declaration that Mr. Biden “has no real plan to defeat the coronavirus” is not accurate. The former vice president has a section of his website devoted to the topic, which he rolled out earlier this year, as well as an economic plan to reopen the economy. The ad also quotes Mr. Biden from earlier this year accusing Mr. Trump of “hysterical xenophobia” after he imposed a travel ban from China. Mr. Biden made the comments the day the ban was imposed, according to PolitiFact, though the words were not explicitly tied to the travel restriction.
Later, the ad says Mr. Trump is “developing a vaccine in record time.” While potential vaccines may arrive in record time, they are being developed by private companies, not by Mr. Trump or his administration.
Where It’s Running
The ad began airing over the weekend in some key presidential battlegrounds, including Arizona, where Mr. Trump campaigned on Monday, and in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia and Maine.
Mr. Trump is seeking to gain political ground on one of the key issues that has undermined his support in 2020. With about 220,000 Americans dead from the virus and millions unemployed, it may be too late to reverse public opinion.
In her first public appearance since recovering from the coronavirus, the first lady, Melania Trump, will travel to the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday for a joint appearance with President Trump.
Mrs. Trump will accompany the president to Erie for an airport rally, her office said Tuesday.
It was not immediately clear what the first lady’s role in the event would be, though it is possible that she will introduce the president.
With the campaign entering its final two weeks, Mr. Trump is trailing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in every one of the swing states that he carried in 2016, according to a New York Times snapshot of polling averages.
In Pennsylvania, the state where Mr. Biden was born and where his campaign has focused on flipping blue-collar voters who previously supported Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden’s polling lead averaged eight percentage points as of Monday.
Mrs. Trump’s return to the campaign trail will come 18 days after Mr. Trump announced that he and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus as part of an outbreak that permeated the West Wing and resulted in the president’s hospitalization for three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Aides to Mrs. Trump said she had “mild symptoms” at the time. Last week, Mrs. Trump revealed that Barron Trump, the couple’s teenage son, also had tested positive and recovered.
Before the outbreak at the White House, which has been connected to a Sept. 26 Rose Garden event at which Mr. Trump introduced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, Mrs. Trump attended the first debate between her husband and Mr. Biden in Cleveland.
In August, Mrs. Trump gave a keynote speech at the Republican National Convention in August in which she expressed sympathy to those who had lost loved ones or had suffered from the coronavirus. It was a rare acknowledgment of the toll of the pandemic during a week in which Mr. Trump and other Republicans otherwise played down the virus.
As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, Republicans hope that gains in voter registration in three states — Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — and heavy turnout by those new party members might just be enough to propel President Trump to a second term.
“The tremendous voter registration gain by the Republicans is the secret weapon that will make the difference for the Republicans in 2020,” said Dee Stewart, a Republican political consultant in North Carolina.
Since 2016, Republicans have narrowed the registration gaps in Florida and Pennsylvania by around 200,000 voters and in North Carolina by more than 230,000 voters, though registered Democrats still outnumber registered Republicans in all three states.
Mr. Trump narrowly won Florida and Pennsylvania in 2016, and won North Carolina by nearly four percentage points, but he is trailing Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the polls in all three states, and Democrats are holding a significant advantage in early turnout
Voter registration numbers alone are not predictive about the outcome of races: Democrats had a surge in voter registrations in 2018, and went on to win the House of Representatives but lost some races in key states where they had an overall registration edge. Democrats also led Republicans in voter registration in several key states in 2016 that they ended up losing.
The Trump-Biden contest this fall may be driven less by incremental changes in registration than by who turns out to vote, and how much they want the president to have a second term, or not. And the difference of a point or two in voter registration only makes a difference in a close race.
Analyzing voter registration — and how it might affect the outcome of the looming election — is also complicated by the fact that a number of states permit same-day voter registration. In addition, at least six battleground states — Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin — do not break down voter registration by party, though Democrats point to some perceived gains there.
President Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are planning a $55 million advertising blitz for the final two weeks of the campaign, officials said Monday on a call with reporters. The push comes as Joseph R. Biden Jr. leads Mr. Trump in most national election polls 15 days before the election.
The advertising campaign will target states in the Sun Belt and the Rust Belt, including Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin. There will also be ads in Iowa and Ohio, the president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said.
For weeks, the Trump campaign has been out-advertised on television, but Mr. Stepien praised the ground operation built by the R.N.C. as a counterforce. He said that the Biden campaign’s late push on the ground was simply “too late.”
The new ads are focused in particular on reaching older voters, who polls have shown moving toward Mr. Biden. Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said one ad would focus on “Medicare savings” achieved during Mr. Trump’s tenure, which she called “truly phenomenal.”
“This is really a tale of two campaigns. Joe Biden is putting it all on TV,” Mr. Stepien said, saying that Mr. Trump is running a “real campaign.”
“We like our plan better,” he said.
With early voting underway, states are working to reassure voters that their ballots will be counted. The latest video in the Stressed Election series shows how states’ responses to Russian hacking and the coronavirus crisis have helped make the election more secure than ever.
A once-in-a-century pandemic, the largest racial justice movement since the 1960s and a relentless social media firehose are making this year’s election one of the most stressful in the nation’s history, experts say.
About 68 percent of adults say that the presidential election is a significant source of stress in their lives, according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, up from 52 percent in 2016. The group didn’t track elections as a source of stress before that — but that’s in part because psychologists weren’t hearing all that much about it.
“I would rank 2020 very high in the list of stressful elections, certainly in the top five, if not the top three,” said Bruce J. Schulman, a professor of history at Boston University.
Of course, elections have always been somewhat stressful. The election of 1860 was a catalyst for Civil War. The election of 1932 took place in the midst of the Great Depression, when many Americans were hungry and homeless.
But only the most recent elections have come in the digital age. And now, during an especially bitter campaign, Mr. Trump is routinely making news on Twitter and people are getting updates pushed to their smartphones day and night. (In 2012, about 4 in 10 American adults reported owning a smartphone, half the rate of today.)
And no other election has taken place during a widespread, modern-era pandemic.
“The pandemic has disrupted so much of daily life, even more than a war or depression would,” Dr. Schulman said.
More people are calling therapists like Steven Stosny, a relationship expert in Maryland who used to get one to two emergency calls a week and now is getting as many as five a day.
Dr. Stosny, who coined the term “election stress disorder” four years ago, said that the background anxiety from the pandemic and the election has translated to far more stress in the daily lives of his clients, who are cooped up at home and already on edge.
“People have shorter fuses,” he said.
He saw a similar phenomenon in 2004, after the race between John Kerry and George Bush. But this year, he said, is far different. “2004 seems like a cakewalk compared to this,” he said.
The playlist at President Trump’s rally in Carson City, Nev., on Sunday night included Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 antiwar anthem “Fortunate Son,” a song that the bandleader John Fogerty penned in protest of class inequalities during the Vietnam era.
“Some folks are born, silver spoon in hand — Lord, don’t they help themselves,” Mr. Fogerty’s voice blasted from the speakers as American flags flapped over the stage. “But when the taxman comes to the door. Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale.”
The song would seem to be an unusual choice for a billionaire candidate who paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 — even more so since Mr. Fogerty had demanded two days before the rally that Mr. Trump stop using it.
On Friday, Mr. Fogerty wrote on Twitter that he was “issuing a cease-and-desist order” to the Trump campaign over its use of the song, a precursor to seeking a legal order to stop it.
His statement on Twitter included a photograph of himself in uniform as a supply clerk at stateside Army bases.
“I wrote this song because, as a veteran, I was disgusted that some people were allowed to be excluded from serving our country because they had access to political and financial privilege,” Mr. Fogerty wrote. “I also wrote about wealthy people not paying their fair share of taxes. Mr. Trump is a prime example of both of these issues.”
At 75, Mr. Fogerty is one year older than Mr. Trump, who avoided military service during the draft by claiming he had a foot problem. The song includes the lyrics, “It ain’t me, It ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaire’s son.”
“It is confusing that the president has chosen to use my song for his political rallies when it seems, in fact, that he is probably ‘The Fortunate Son,’” said Mr. Fogerty in a video posted on his Facebook page last month.
A Trump campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Neither candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Michigan seems to want voters to know whether they are the Republican or the Democrat.
The Democrat, Senator Gary Peters, slapped on a black leather jacket and rode his Harley-Davidson across Michigan, and his ads have highlighted his toughness on China and his support for banning Chinese travelers from entering the United States early in the coronavirus outbreak, a policy of President Trump’s.
The Republican, John James, calls himself “nonpartisan.” He denounces the way politics have become “nastier and more divisive.” His wife recently appeared in a campaign ad to talk about their young son who has asthma as a way to demonstrate her husband’s commitment to protecting health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.
The race — one of a handful that could tip the balance in the Senate — is among the most contested and expensive in the country. Polls show a tighter race than Democrats had anticipated, and both sides are fighting for the few remaining independent, undecided voters. In an election in which the parties have focused on getting their base to turn out, Michigan stands out as a place where winning the middle could make the difference.
For Mr. Peters, one of only two Democrats running for re-election in a state that Mr. Trump won in 2016, the path to victory becomes much easier if he can persuade enough of the president’s supporters to vote for him.
For Mr. James, success will come from the opposite situation: if enough people voting for Joseph R. Biden Jr. cross over to support a Republican for the Senate.
Polls have varied but show Mr. James with an outside chance of helping Republicans flip a Democratic seat. A New York Times/Siena College survey found Mr. Peters up by one point, while others put his lead in the mid-to-high single digits.
Bettie Griggs, a retiree in Los Angeles, was 12 years old and living in Louisiana when her mother received her first voter registration card in the mail. It was 1965.
“I can still recall the joy that she had,” Ms. Griggs said. “I can recall seeing that the card was actually stamped ‘illiterate’ and thinking, ‘Oh my God, they stamped her card illiterate.’”
The long history of voter disenfranchisement in the United States is a central theme that guides Ms. Griggs’s family reunions, held every other year in Shreveport, La.
That is because in the African-American family tradition, reunions frequently act as opportunities for political organizing, with older generations emphasizing to younger family members the importance of registering to vote. Save the church, Black families have often lacked designated spaces — public, and wholly their own — where they can be immersed in community. Much like services on Sundays, reunions are rituals that give families an occasion to come together and share political wisdom and oral histories.
But many of these gatherings have been upended this year, even as an enormously consequential election unfolds and as large numbers of Americans have been shaken awake to confront a fuller picture of bigotry in their country. At a time when family reunions would have been a timely way to honor diaspora-wide histories of surviving racialized violence, the coronavirus, a disease that disproportionately affects Black Americans, has prevented many of them from happening.
This could have subtle but meaningful political implications, as Black Americans’ voting rights are increasingly under attack.