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Sunday September 20th, 2020 3:32AM

The Latest: Harris: US fire response should be ideology-free

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

4:55 p.m.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris says ideology shouldn’t play a role in the U.S. response to wildfires and climate change.

She didn’t mention President Donald Trump by name on Tuesday, but her remarks came a day after he visited California and again cast doubt on the science behind climate change. He has often sparred with state officials over the response to fires and has advocated for raking forests.

The California senator is visiting her home state for the first time as Joe Biden's running mate. She joined Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom for a briefing about a wildfire that tore through the Sierra National Forest beginning Labor Day weekend.

Ash fell from the sky around her, and the air smelled strongly of smoke.

Dean Gould, forest supervisor for the Sierra National Forest, says officials have never seen a more aggressive fire in the area.

Harris and Newsom then walked through a burned-out property.

___

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

President Donald Trump was in Washington on Tuesday for a White House ceremony celebrating Israel signing pacts with two Gulf Arab states. He is also scheduled to participate in an ABC town hall event in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. His Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, meanwhile, was in the battleground state of Florida on Tuesday for a roundtable with veterans in Tampa and a Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff event in Kissimmee.

Read more:

— Trump: Israeli pacts with 2 Arab states signal ‘new’ Mideast

— Biden seeks to woo Latinos in 1st trip to Florida as nominee

— Trump to take questions in TV town hall as debate warm-up

— Trump highlights foreign policy wins as he courts voters

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

4:35 p.m.

Joe Biden is set to meet virtually with Senate Democrats for the first time since becoming the party’s presidential nominee.

That’s according to a Democratic aide who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss Thursday’s private session.

Biden represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years before heading to the White House to serve as President Barack Obama’s vice president. He tapped California Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice presidential nominee.

As vice president, Biden would occasionally visit the Capitol to join his colleagues for their weekly policy sessions. During Thursday’s private session, he will join the Democrats’ caucus call to discuss priorities ahead of the November election.

— By Lisa Mascaro

___

2:40 p.m.

Joe Biden is tearing into President Donald Trump for his reported remarks referring to fallen soldiers as “suckers.”

Biden held a roundtable in Tampa, Florida, focused on veterans in his first visit back to the battleground state since he became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Biden says Trump “doesn’t seem to be able to conceive the idea of selfless service,” referencing Trump’s reported comments calling fallen World War I soldiers “suckers” and “losers.” Trump has denied the comments, but many were confirmed independently by The Associated Press.

Biden went on to outline his commitments to the troops and his own experience supporting service members and their families as vice president. He spoke about his late son Beau’s service in the Delaware Army National Guard, declaring that “he’s no sucker.”

Biden says troops “deserve a commander in chief who respects their sacrifice” and “will never betray the values they defend.”

___

1:40 p.m.

Joe Biden's campaign manager is defending his travel schedule and voter outreach tactics as the former vice president campaigns in Florida.

In an interview with Politico on Tuesday, Jen O’Malley Dillon says, "I welcome the bed-wetting,” referring to worries among even some of Biden’s supporters. She says it shows people “understand what’s at stake.”

But she insisted the campaign and Democratic Party infrastructure is reaching voters in battleground states, including Florida, even without knocking on doors or holding large in-person events. Further, she turned the question back on President Donald Trump and his open flouting of public health guidelines during the pandemic.

“I was horrified to see the pictures from last night,” she said of Trump’s indoor rally in Arizona, where masks were sparse and social distancing was not observed. “People will die because of these types of events, and that’s from the president of the United States."

She says Trump's actions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are “emblematic of his lack of leadership” and she says the campaign will stay focused on that.

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