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Friday September 24th, 2021 5:40PM

The Latest: Trump makes play for an electoral vote in Maine

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

4:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump made a brief swing to Maine’s 2nd Congressional District on Sunday to present his case for its single electoral vote.

The president's trek to Maine came after a campaign stop in New Hampshire. At Maine's Treworgy Family Orchards in the town of Levant, Trump was greeted by a crush of mostly unmasked supporters and spent a few minutes autographing campaign hats and pumpkins.

Maine assigns two of its electoral votes by congressional district. The other two are awarded to the candidate with the most votes in the state.

Trump won the state’s northern, rural district and its electoral vote in 2016.

___

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

President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are framing their closing messages in the sprint to the Nov. 3 election. Trump plans stops Sunday in New Hampshire and Maine. Biden is in Delaware.

Read more:

— Eyes turn to Texas as early voting surge surpasses 2016

— Four years in, Trump has plenty of unfinished business

— Work already underway for presidential inauguration

— As Trump casts doubt on election, new agency contradicts him

— Reid says Biden should end Senate filibuster after 3 weeks

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

___

4:35 p.m.

Sen. Kamala Harris is set to campaign in Texas during the final week of the presidential campaign.

A campaign aide says the Democratic vice presidential nominee will be in the state on Friday. Further details of the trip haven’t been released.

Texas is one of 17 battleground states Joe Biden’s campaign is targeting. The state has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, but Democrats have closed the gap in recent years.

Harris’ trip to Texas will follow recent campaign stops in Georgia, another reliably Republican state that Democrats see potential in flipping this year, and Michigan, where Trump had his narrowest margin of victory in 2016. On Tuesday she plans to campaign in Nevada.

The addition of Texas to her schedule demonstrates the Biden campaign’s varied paths to victory.

Harris has focused on mobilizing Black voters in particular. Houston and Dallas are among cities in Texas with large Black populations.

___

3:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is asserting that even without a vaccine, “we’re rounding the turn. It’s going to be over.”

Trump made the dubious claim to voters at a packed campaign rally in New Hampshire.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows new COVID-19 cases at a high, with 83,718 reported Saturday, just shy of the 83,757 infections on Friday. Before that, the most cases reported in the United States on a single day had been 77,362, on July 16.

Trump says “you know why we have cases so much? Because that’s all we do but test.”

Trump is trying to win a state that he narrowly lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. He is also making a stop in Bangor, Maine. He’s trying to capture the 2nd Congressional District’s one electoral vote.

___

3:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s campaign says in a text message to followers that Vice President Mike Pence will join the president when he campaigns in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Monday.

Trump is making a swing through the critical battleground state he narrowly won in 2016.

Pence is planning to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite an apparent outbreak of the coronavirus among key aides.

Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and “a couple of key staff surrounding the vice president” have tested positive for the virus, according to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The vice president along with his wife, Karen, tested negative on Sunday, according to his office. Pence is considered a “close contact” of the aides under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria but will not quarantine.

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, says Pence is an essential worker, while White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows says Pence is working as well as campaigning.

O’Brien says “campaigning and voting are about as essential things as we can do as Americans.”

___

2:45 p.m.

Joe Biden says President Donald Trump’s top adviser has waved “the white flag of defeat” in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden admonished White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after earlier on Sunday he said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” that “we’re not going to control the pandemic” and asserted that getting vaccines and therapeutics was ultimately the answer to dealing with a surge in infections.

The former vice president says in a statement that “this wasn’t a slip by Meadows, it was a candid acknowledgement of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis.”

Vice President Mike Pence’s office confirmed late Saturday that he will stay on the campaign trail despite being in close contact with his chief of staff, who earlier on Saturday tested positive for the virus.

___

12:40 p.m.

With nine days to go until Election Day, Joe Biden is spending a quiet Sunday in Wilmington, Delaware.

The Democratic presidential candidate attended church nearby his home with two of his granddaughters. It’s a Sunday constant for Biden, who makes sure to attend most of the time he’s home.

Sunday evening, Biden will speak at a star-studded virtual get-out-the-vote concert. Jill Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will also speak at the event, and a handful of celebrities — including John Legend, Jon Bon Jovi and Cher — will appear and perform. The concert is part of the campaign’s push to get voters to head to the polls early. Harris is spending Sunday campaigning in Detroit, a key base of Democratic support in pivotal Michigan for the Biden campaign.

Biden has had a relatively thin schedule in the final stretch of the campaign, visiting just three states in the past seven days, including Tennessee for the final presidential debate. This week, he’s slated to deliver his closing message with a speech in Georgia, a traditionally red-leaning state where Democrats feel they have an opening due to President Donald Trump’s struggles in the polls.

___

11:15 a.m.

With COVID-19 cases surging in the United States, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows acknowledged that the Trump administration can’t stop the spread and is focusing instead on getting a vaccine.

He told CNN’s “State of the Union”: “We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics.”

President Donald Trump largely shuns wearing a mask and has repeatedly insisted at campaign rallies that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” when it comes to the coronavirus. But Meadows on Sunday appeared to contradict that assessment. When pressed why the U.S. won’t get control of the pandemic, he replied: “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Meadows says the administration is making efforts to contain the virus and predicts “we’re going to defeat it.” Meadows says “our ability to handle this has improved each and every day.” New cases, however, have been on the rise, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University.

___

10:15 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s not giving up on passing another coronavirus relief economic package before the Nov. 3 election.

At issue is a huge virus relief bill that would send another $1,200 direct payment to most Americans, restart bonus unemployment benefits, fund additional testing and vaccines, provide aid to schools and allocate money to state and local governments, a Democratic priority.

Pelosi says she sent the administration a list of concerns on Friday and she is told that she’ll have answers on Monday.

Pelosi says she wants a relief bill that is predicated on steps that science dictates should be taken to deal with the coronavirus, and “if we don’t, we’re just giving money to the president to spend any way he wants and that has not been in furtherance of crushing the virus.”

Pelosi spoke on CNN. Earlier, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows says the administration has made many offers, but Pelosi “continues to move the goalposts.”

Meadows says the relief bill being negotiated would cost about $1.9 trillion. He says he has a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring a bill to the floor if negotiations with Pelosi conclude successfully.

___

10 a.m.

The White House chief of staff says that Vice President Mike Pence is continuing to participate in campaign rallies despite his exposure to a top aide who tested positive for COVID-19 because “he’s not just campaigning, he’s working.”

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows says that he spoke with Pence overnight and that the vice president told him he is wearing a mask and social distancing, except when he is speaking at a rally. Meadows says “he’s wearing a mask as it relates to this particular thing because the doctors have advised him to do that.”

Meadows spoke on CNN and was also pressed on whether he sought to quash news of an outbreak among close advisers to Pence. Meadows says “sharing personal information is not something that we should do, not something that we do actually do, unless it’s the vice president or the president, or someone that’s very close to them where there is people in harm’s way.”

Pence himself tested negative, his office said. Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, the vice president is considered a “close contact” of his chief of staff, Marc Short, but will not quarantine.

Thousands of supporters have been attending President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies in the final weeks of the presidential election. Meadows says the campaign offers masks to attendees but does not require them to wear it “because we live in a free society.”

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