Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, will visit Kenosha, Wis., on Thursday, his campaign announced, a city reeling from the Aug. 23 police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake.
The announcement came one day after President Trump visited Kenosha over the objections of Wisconsin’s governor and Kenosha’s mayor, both Democrats. During his visit, the president did not mention Mr. Blake, who was paralyzed in the shooting, or speak with his family.
Two demonstrators who were protesting the shooting of Mr. Blake were killed in Kenosha last week, and a white teenager has been charged with homicide. Protests in Kenosha over Mr. Blake’s shooting have at times turned destructive, as buildings were burned and storefronts destroyed.
This week Mr. Trump declined to criticize the 17-year-old charged in the killings, Kyle Rittenhouse, who had attended one of his rallies earlier this year. “He probably would have been killed,” the president said.
The Biden campaign said Mr. Biden would “hold a community meeting in Kenosha to bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face.” After that, he and Dr. Biden will make another stop in Kenosha. The campaign did not provide further details about its plans.
The trip comes as Mr. Biden is ramping up his travel schedule in the final two months of the campaign, following a long stretch during the pandemic when he made only occasional in-person appearances and rarely strayed beyond Delaware and eastern Pennsylvania.
On Monday, Mr. Biden gave a speech in Pittsburgh expressing support for protesters of racial injustice but vigorously denouncing demonstrations that have turned violent, his most forceful rebuke yet of Mr. Trump’s efforts to paint him as radically anti-law enforcement.
“Rioting is not protesting,” Mr. Biden said. “Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”
He has leaned into those themes since with an ad.
Prior to that speech, some Biden allies had urged the campaign to address the subject head-on, and had expressed interest in seeing Mr. Biden travel more.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s lead over President Trump among registered voters in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania has shrunk from 13 percentage points to just four points, according to polling released Wednesday by Monmouth University.
The narrowing is largely because Mr. Trump has begun consolidating support from Republicans and conservative voters who have disapproved of his stewardship, but it is also is due to declining support for Mr. Biden among men over all and among voters under age 50.
Mr. Biden has led 36 of the last 37 public polls of Pennsylvania, a state Mr. Trump carried by 44,000 votes out of 6 million cast in 2016. Mr. Trump’s victory there, powered by a combination of stronger than expected support for him in the state’s rural areas and weak turnout in major cities, prompted a multi-year Democratic reckoning that the Scranton-born Mr. Biden and his allies are still struggling to process.
The Monmouth poll also shows that a high turnout model narrowly benefits Mr. Biden. The Democratic nominee leads the race by three points when the poll assumes a high turnout, but by just one point if there is low turnout.
Still, the poll found Mr. Biden retains healthy leads among the people most likely to vote. He is leading by 11 points among voters 65 and older, a demographic Mr. Trump carried by 10 points in 2016, according to exit polls.
The poll also found Pennsylvania’s self-described independent voters are split evenly between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden, with each taking 45 percent.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced a $364.5 million haul of donations for August between his campaign and his shared committees with the Democratic Party, shattering past fund-rasing records.
Small-dollar online donations accounted for more than $205 million of that sum and Democratic contributors poured money into Mr. Biden’s coffers, especially since the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. So many supporters bought Biden-Harris yard signs that the campaign had to open a new fulfillment center. Big contributors, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, gave generously too, with checks that can be as large as $721,300.
Mr. Biden’s sum laps what is believed to be the previous monthly record of $193 million, set by Barack Obama in September 2008, though there is no formal record-keeping. The $364.5 million is more than the sum of what Mr. Biden ($140 million) and President Trump ($165 million) raised in July.
“That figure blows me away,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.
The Biden campaign said that it now counts more than 4 million donors and that 1.5 million Americans gave for the first time in August.
Just the portion that Mr. Biden raised online — $205 million — is more than any previous presidential candidate’s full monthly total.
The news comes as the general election enters an intense final two-month sprint following the conventions. Mr. Trump traveled to Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, the site of unrest following the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake. The president has tried to cut into Mr. Biden’s polling lead by distorting Mr. Biden’s record on law enforcement and accusing the former vice president of being tolerant of violent mobs.
Mr. Biden has forcefully rejected that characterization, and charged that it was the president who was making the country unsafe with divisive, inflammatory behavior.
Both sides are ramping up television and digital ad buys, and Mr. Biden’s enormous haul ensures he will have the funds both to defend states that Mrs. Clinton carried in 2016 and to try to make incursions into Mr. Trump’s territory.The Biden campaign had previously announced that it raised $48 million in the first 48 hours after Ms. Harris was named as Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential choice and $70 million during the four-day Democratic convention.
The Trump campaign has not announced its August fund-raising total but has said it raised $76 million during the Republican convention.
The Commission on Presidential Debates has selected the moderators for the three debates between President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. this fall, as well as the single vice-presidential debate, the commission announced Wednesday.
Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” anchor, will moderate the first debate on Sept. 29, to be held in Cleveland, the person said.
The second debate, a town hall-style forum scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, will be moderated by Steve Scully of C-SPAN.
And the final one, on Oct. 22 in Nashville, will be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC.
The vice-presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden’s running mate, which is set for Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, will be moderated by Susan Page of USA Today.
The choices of moderators are likely to anger the Trump campaign, which has made a list of demands and named moderators it considers acceptable.
President Trump’s advance team wanted to show him commiserating with the owners of a burned-out camera shop during his Tuesday visit to Kenosha, Wis.
The only problem: the owners wanted nothing to do with Mr. Trump. So the White House did the next best thing — it found the store’s former owner, who still owns the building that housed it before it was destroyed, and passed him off as a business owner aggrieved by the city’s unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
“I just feel that this is another photo op for him and I just didn’t want to be part of it,” said Tom Gram, a co-owner of Rode’s Camera Shop in Kenosha. “Just to have words put in my mouth or whatever, I just didn’t want that to happen.”
Mr. Gram said in a Wednesday interview that he did not return a phone call from the White House advance team seeking to arrange for him to appear with Mr. Trump. But John Rode III, whose family started the business in 1911 and sold it to Mr. Gram and a partner in 2012, did show the building on Roosevelt Road, in Kenosha’s Uptown section, to the president and appeared at a round table discussion at a local high school.
“John Rode III, owner of Rode’s Camera Shop,” Mr. Trump said while introducing Mr. Rode. “John, stand up, please.”
Mr. Rode proceeded to thank Mr. Trump and local law enforcement for doing “an awesome job.” In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Rode said he did not hear Mr. Trump’s introduction at the time but watched a recording afterward.
“He introduced me as the business owner and I didn’t correct him,” Mr. Rode said. “People say you shouldn’t correct him anyway.”
Mr. Gram, 63, has known Mr. Rode for decades. He began working at the camera shop in 1979, on the day he graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College, before buying the business in 2012. He said he has been inundated with press requests and hate mail since the discrepancy was first reported Tuesday night by WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee.
“I’m a quiet person. I don’t like to get involved in politics,” he said. “I got my first hate email last night. It’s very difficult for me. I’ve had difficulty sleeping ever since the store was burned.”
Mr. Rode, 68, said he remained undecided about whether to vote for Mr. Trump this November but the opportunity to interact with him was something he could not pass up.
“I was not in any way trying to make it look like I owned the business,” Mr. Rode said. “I’ve only done what I thought was best for them. I feel like Tom has kind of stabbed me in the back a little bit.”
Mr. Gram said he was no fan of Mr. Trump’s style and rhetoric, which he said dismissed the concerns of Kenoshans to make a broader political point in defense of police officers.
“I’ve always felt safe in Kenosha,” he said. “He needs to look at the other side of the story too. We’re a community here and we need to heal and we need to grow. I feel that he is too divisive and just needs to work with us.”
In a week that has already seen President Trump visit the site of the country’s latest protests against police violence and a major speech from former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. confronting the president and condemning the sporadic violence that has erupted in some cities, the two campaigns are now engaged in an advertising war over law and order.
The Trump campaign on Wednesday morning released two ads it said would air in Minnesota and Wisconsin that aim to tie Mr. Biden to protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
“Lawless criminals terrorize Kenosha,” the Wisconsin ad states. “Joe Biden takes a knee.”
The new Trump spots come a day after the Biden campaign unveiled a 60-second ad that repackaged elements of the speech he gave Monday in Pittsburgh condemning the violence that sprang from some protests against systemic racism in policing.
The ad — part of a $45 million one-week television and digital purchase that is by far the campaign’s largest to date — is the first time that Mr. Biden has put this pushback on issues of crime and public safety into a major paid advertising program.
“I want to make it absolutely clear,” Mr. Biden says as images flash of burned-out cars and buildings and a confrontation with the police. “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”
The composition of the ads make clear what each campaign views as their most valuable assets.
The Biden spot is narrated entirely by the former vice president as footage of him speaking is spliced together with footage of Trump supporters attacking protesters and marching in Charlottesville, Va. He casts himself as a unifying figure who would seek to “lower the temperature” of the national debate and bring the country together.
The Trump ads show Mr. Biden along with Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, progressive women of color Mr. Trump and his allies regularly employ as political boogeymen, as well as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, another frequent target.
Mr. Trump’s 30-second spot goes on to suggest Mr. Biden agrees with calls to defund the police, which he does not. Mr. Biden has called for increasing funding for law enforcement.
The Biden campaign said the ad would air nationally on cable television and in local markets in nine battleground states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The Trump campaign did not disclose how much money it is spending on the spots or in which markets they will appear.
Joseph R. Biden Jr., pressing his argument that President Trump is failing the country with his handling of the coronavirus, plans on Wednesday to make the case that Mr. Trump is hurting the nation’s parents, teachers and schoolchildren with his push for schools to reopen.
Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, a community college professor, are scheduled to receive a briefing in Wilmington, Del., from a group of experts, including Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who served as secretary of health and human services for President Barack Obama and is now the president of American University, and Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the California State Board of Education.
Mr. Biden will then give a speech on what his campaign described as Mr. Trump’s failures on the pandemic as well as Mr. Biden’s plan to reopen schools safely.
Symone Sanders, a senior adviser for the Biden campaign, said Mr. Trump was “barreling forward trying to reopen schools because he thinks it will help his own re-election.”
“We believe this is a key contrast for voters,” Ms. Sanders said. “President Trump, who continues to ignore the science and has no plan to get the virus under control, and Joe Biden, who is working with the experts and putting together an effective plan to beat the virus and reopen schools safely.”
Mr. Trump has demanded that schools reopen this fall and threatened to cut federal funding for school districts that defied his wishes. But his effort to pressure schools did not have the effect he desired, and many districts decided to begin the school year with remote instruction.
Melania Trump used a personal email account and encrypted messaging apps like Signal to conduct government business, a former friend and associate of the first lady told The Washington Post.
Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who served as Mrs. Trump’s top aide and had previously been a close friend, told the newspaper in an interview that the two women did not use official White House email accounts when they communicated frequently about official topics.
Ms. Wolkoff recently published a memoir, “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady,” but the allegation about Mrs. Trump’s use of personal email accounts is not included in the book.
The use of personal email accounts was at the heart of Donald Trump’s most vicious attacks on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. He repeatedly accused her of having deleted 33,000 emails from a personal server while she was secretary of state. Mrs. Clinton said the emails were personal in nature, and an FB.I. investigation found no evidence that they were deleted deliberately.
Ethics experts said that because Mrs. Trump is not a government employee, she is not automatically covered by the same laws that would govern communications by a cabinet secretary or other administration officials. But discussion of government business and information could still be violations.
“It raises some legal questions that need to be looked at about whether any of the emails would trigger a provision of the Presidential Records Act,” which requires that communications be permanently preserved and archived, said Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group.
Mr. Libowitz said that the use of personal accounts by the first lady also fits a broader pattern in which members of the Trump administration have sought to avoid transparency by using personal email accounts and messaging apps.
Last year, the House Oversight Committee began investigating reports that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, had been using WhatsApp, a popular encrypted messaging app, and personal email accounts to conduct business, including communications with foreign leaders.
The president’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, Mr. Kushner’s wife, also reportedly used personal email for government communications. A representative for her lawyer told reporters at the time that she occasionally used a personal account before she was briefed on the rules and that none of the communications were classified.
White House officials and Ms. Wolkoff did not respond to requests for comment.
The Post said that its reporters had reviewed emails and other messages that they described has having been from “private email and messaging accounts used by Melania Trump.” The paper said the topics in those messages included discussions of government hiring; schedules for Mr. Trump and the first lady during state visits; discussion about the first lady’s anti-bullying initiative; and inaugural finances.
As Iowa sees a spike in coronavirus cases, Joni Ernst, the state’s junior senator and a Republican in a tight race for re-election, echoed a debunked conspiracy theory that deaths were being greatly inflated and suggested that health care providers had a financial motive to falsify cases.
Ms. Ernst said she was “so skeptical” of the government’s national statistics about virus fatalities, according to an account in The Courier newspaper of a campaign stop she made in Waterloo, a city of about 70,000.
“They’re thinking there may be 10,000 or less deaths that were actually singularly Covid-19,” Ms. Ernst said. “I’m just really curious. It would be interesting to know that.”
According to a tracking project by The New York Times, Iowa has had the most new virus cases per capita of any state over the last seven days. Ames and Iowa City, home to Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, rank second and fourth nationally among metro areas with the most cases per capita over the past two weeks.
Ms. Ernst’s comments seemed to track a false claim spread by President Trump over the weekend, and removed by Twitter for violating disinformation rules, because it is linked to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory.
The claim, retweeted by Mr. Trump, inaccurately said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “quietly updated the Covid number to admit that only 6%” of deaths — or about 9,000 people — “actually died from Covid.”
The claim was apparently based on a CDC data table updated last week showing 161,332 death certificates that listed Covid-19 as a cause of death. In 6 percent of cases, Covid-19 was the only cause of death. The other 94 percent included underlying conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, made clear that just because a person had other health problems, or comorbidities, along with the coronavirus it does not mean that they did not die of Covid-19.
“It’s not 9,000 deaths from Covid-19, it’s 180-plus-thousand deaths,” he said, adding that there should “not be any confusion about that.’’
On Monday, Ms. Ernst, who is fending off a stiff challenge from her Democratic opponent, Theresa Greenfield, also suggested doctors and hospitals had a financial incentive to inflate coronavirus statistics. “These health-care providers and others are reimbursed at a higher rate if Covid is tied to it, so what do you think they’re doing?” she told voters.
“Click on: antifa.com,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted on Tuesday. “Tells you all you need to know.”
The site redirects to Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign home page. But the switch is a prank, one that ties the Democratic presidential nominee to a largely online, far-left activist network to which President Trump has falsely sought to link Mr. Biden.
Mr. Cruz’s tweet, which he deleted seven hours after posting, marked the latest and most high-profile effort from Trump supporters to baselessly connect Mr. Biden to Antifa, a loose collective of anti-fascist activists that opposes the president.
The effort dates back several weeks, when right-wing influencers began tweeting about the website forwarding.
On Aug. 12, Chanel Rion, a reporter with the far-right television network One America News, which has frequently trafficked in conspiracy theories, asked Mr. Trump about the redirect during a news conference. This led to more than 300 tweets repeating the misleading claim, according to Dataminr, a social media monitoring service.
Charlie Kirk, a right-wing provocateur and the founder of Turning Point USA, tweeted Aug. 31 directing his followers to antifa.com to see “who is truly supportive of the domestic terrorism campaign slaughtering black people and destroying America.” The tweet was liked and shared over 10,000 times.
And on Facebook, posts pushing the misleading claim have been shared tens of thousands of shares, according to CrowdTangle, which analyzes interactions across social networks.
Anyone who owns a website can automatically send visitors to another website, without the second website having control.
Indeed, after Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that he did not suffer “a series of mini-strokes,” someone purchased mini-strokes.com. It now redirects to Mr. Trump’s campaign site.
Antifa.com actually directs to kamalaharris.com, which itself forwards users to joebiden.com. Records kept by the public domain registry Whois reveal little more, showing only that the domain’s owner is anonymous.
It’s an open-ended question who controls the domain name. “Whoever owns antifa.com is redirecting it to our website as a troll,” Rob Flaherty, digital director for the Biden campaign, wrote on Twitter Monday.
Senator Edward J. Markey turned back a primary challenge Tuesday from Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, handing the Kennedy family its first-ever electoral loss in Massachusetts and demonstrating the growing strength of the progressive left.
Forging a coalition of younger and more liberal Democrats, the sort of voters who once formed the core of the Kennedy base, Mr. Markey was winning about 54 percent of the vote when Mr. Kennedy called him to concede. Soon afterward, The Associated Press declared him the winner. Mr. Markey had 55.5 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning.
By winning renomination in a generational clash — and the marquee Democratic Senate primary of the year — Mr. Markey, 74, proved that the ascendant left is not eager to simply throw out long-serving incumbents in favor of younger rivals, such as the 39-year-old Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Markey, who was first elected to Congress in 1976, was able to outflank Mr. Kennedy with progressives, leaving the heir of Massachusetts’s most storied political dynasty little opening.
The mail and TV blitz that Mr. Kennedy deployed in recent weeks that depicted his grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy, and great-uncles did little to affect the outcome.
He was uneasy from the start of the campaign about trading on his legacy, a reluctance that mystified some of his allies, who thought he was not wielding his most enviable asset.
Mr. Kennedy’s more fundamental problem, however, may have been that he simply never gave voters a coherent reason for why he should replace Mr. Markey, who was generally well-liked and underestimated by many Massachusetts Democrats.
Satisfied with their incumbent, happy to see him embrace a progressive agenda and wary of Mr. Kennedy’s ambitions, the state’s many liberal voters made the difference. Mr. Markey won with overwhelming margins in the tony suburbs outside Boston, including Mr. Kennedy’s Newton, and in the college towns of Western Massachusetts.
In the other most closely watched race of the night, though, the left fell short. Representative Richard E. Neal, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and dean of Massachusetts’s House delegation, fended off Alex Morse, a liberal who is the mayor of Holyoke.
Mr. Neal, who enjoyed a sizable financial advantage, held up his clout in Washington and benefited from the relative scarcity of upscale liberals in his Western Massachusetts district. Every progressive primary challenger who has unseated a House Democrat in the last two elections has done so in and around big cities.
And in the tight seven-way race for the seat Mr. Kennedy is vacating, in the Fourth District, the progressive front-runner, Jesse Mermell, was trailing Jake Auchincloss, a Marine veteran endorsed by The Boston Globe, by about 1150 votes as of Wednesday afternoon. Ms. Mermell was endorsed by Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, while Mr. Auchincloss is a former Republican who ran closer to the center.
President Trump joked to Sarah Sanders, the former White House press secretary, about her “taking one for the team” after North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, winked at her during a summit in 2018, Ms. Sanders said.
Ms. Sanders revealed the episode in her new book, “Speaking for Myself,” in which she discusses her time working for Mr. Trump, as well as how she may run for governor of her home state of Arkansas and her early days caring for young children.
Throughout, Ms. Sanders writes glowingly about her former boss. Excerpts from the book, which goes on sale on Tuesday, were provided to The New York Times.
Ms. Sanders describes the summit in Singapore between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim in detail, including a moment where she and the North Korean leader “made direct eye contact and Kim nodded and appeared to wink at me.” She described herself as stunned.
On the trip back to Air Force One, Ms. Sanders relayed the encounter with Mr. Kim to Mr. Trump and the White House chief of staff at the time, John F. Kelly. The two men burst out laughing, Ms. Sanders writes.
“Kim winked at you?” Mr. Trump asked, adding, “Are you telling me Kim Jong-un hit on you!?!?”
Ms. Sanders made clear she didn’t mean that, but Mr. Trump and Mr. Kelly continued to joke about Mr. Kim’s intentions.
“Well, Sarah, that settles it,” Ms. Sanders recalls the president joking. “You’re going to North Korea and taking one for the team! Your husband and kids will miss you, but you’ll be a hero to your country!”
President Trump’s relationship with voting by mail is full of contradictions. The president himself votes by mail, as do at least 16 members of his inner circle. But he has repeatedly pushed false arguments about the practice, which he has claimed will lead to “the greatest rigged election in history.”
That could explain why his campaign has spent $200,000 on Facebook ads since May disparaging voting by mail, with baseless accusations of Democrats “stuffing the ballot boxes with fake and fraudulent votes” — and has also pumped $650,000 into Facebook ads over the past week encouraging his supporters to request absentee ballots.
“President Trump needs you to request your ballot,” say dozens of new ads that began running last week. “This is the Election of our LIFETIME.”
The seemingly divergent messaging in Mr. Trump’s digital apparatus underscores the threat he may be posing to his own campaign: As he attacks mail-in voting, he could also be hampering his own supporters’ enthusiasm for embracing the method, which will be critical for voters who want to avoid going to the polls on Election Day because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A gap in mail-in ballot requests between Republicans and Democrats could be important in November. And so, while the president has continued to rail against the practice, the Trump campaign has concurrently maintained an ad presence boosting mail-in voting for months. The campaign has run roughly 3,800 ads on Facebook since 2018 telling its supporters to “request your ballot,” according to Facebook’s ad database.
By running ads on Facebook, the Trump campaign can target its message in favor of absentee voting more directly to its own supporters, without drawing as much public attention as a campaign speech or television ad might.
Critics say Mr. Trump is trying to undermine voting by mail in part because he wants to sow doubt about the election and lay the groundwork for questioning the outcome should he lose.
The Trump campaign said Tuesday that the president opposed “universal mail-in voting systems,” in which states automatically mail ballots to all voters, but supported “traditional absentee vote-by-mail systems,” in which voters must proactively request ballots themselves.
But while broader mail-in voting has led to delayed results in some states this year, and some voters have had their ballots rejected, often because they were not postmarked in time, there has been no evidence of widespread fraud or criminal malfeasance. Cases of fraud have been exceptionally rare in states that have conducted elections primarily by mail for years.
At the Democratic National Convention, viewers heard from an Arizona man whose young son was born with a congenital heart defect, a Wisconsin woman with an autoimmune disease and cancer survivors from several states. Their stories highlighted the importance of health care — and the protections provided by the Affordable Care Act.
When Republicans held their convention last week, they had little to say about their own vision for America’s health care system. Obamacare, for years a punching bag for the party, went almost entirely unmentioned. When the phrase “health care” was spoken, it was often in the service of attacking Democrats over health care for undocumented immigrants.
Those dueling approaches to discussing health policy offered a preview of what to expect as the two parties, and their presidential nominees, make their closing arguments on one of the most critical issues to many voters — one whose importance has been underscored by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 184,000 people in the United States.
Democrats are once again trying to capitalize on an issue that was key to their success in the 2018 midterm elections. And Republicans are once again vulnerable: Three years after failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the party still has not coalesced around a plan for the future of America’s health care system.
“No one could quite figure out what ‘replace’ was,” said Adam Brandon, the president of FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group, as he recalled the party’s struggle to repeal the law known as Obamacare after President Trump’s election. “That’s where the problem was, and we never recovered from it. And we still haven’t recovered from it today.”
Mr. Brandon cited the successful health care message employed by Democrats in 2018, with its emphasis on protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and likened it to a football team that calls a running play that proves successful — and then keeps calling the same play. “If I’m the Democrats,” he said, “I just keep handing the ball off on pre-existing conditions until Republicans prove they can stop that.”