2020 US Election

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 12th October, 2020) The final three weeks of the US presidential campaign start on Monday, with President Donald Trump declared no longer contagious by the White House physician and three consecutive evening rallies planned in the states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa.

"I beat this crazy horrible China virus," Trump told Fox news on Sunday. "I passed the highest test, the highest standards, and I'm in great shape."

White House Physician Sean Conley cited US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and an "assortment of advanced diagnostic tests" in a Saturday night memo declaring the president was no longer a "transmission risk to others" with zero evidence of "actively replicating virus."

Former Vice President Joe Biden begins the week in the Ohio city of Toledo, with the theme "building back the economy better for working families," during an afternoon speech followed by a voter registration event in Cincinnati, the Biden campaign announced.

It will be Biden's first visit to Ohio since September 30, the day after the first presidential debate in the city of Cleveland.

Ohio, won by Trump in 2016, has voted for every winning presidential candidate in the past century with only two exceptions, the 1944 election of President Franklin Roosevelt and the 1960 win by President Kennedy.

The Trump-Biden race in Ohio is considered a tossup with the latest poll by Baldwin Wallace University showing Trump winning with a 47-45 percent edge, well within the margin of error for any pre-election survey.

Biden Wants Second In-Person Debate With Trump

National Co-Chair of the Biden Campaign, Congressman Cedric Richmond said Biden wants a second one-on-one debate with Trump provided steps are in place to protect the audience from COVID-19.

"If Donald Trump is COVID-free, and the protocols are set up to protect the health, not only of Joe Biden, but the health of the families that attend ... we want to see it in a town-hall format," Richmond told ABC News.

Trump's family was widely criticized for not wearing facemasks at the first debate in Cleveland on September 29, in violation of rules agreed to by both campaigns.

Congress Considers Supreme Court Nominee

Apart from daily campaign appeals by both candidates, the Senate begins hearings on Trump's nomination of conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett - a key issue in the campaign.

Following opening statements on Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from Barrett on Tuesday and Wednesday, other witnesses on Thursday and a committee vote on Friday to send the nomination to the full Senate for an up or down vote, committee Chair Lindsey Graham told Fox News.

Republicans claim to have votes needed to confirm Barrett, with Democrats threatening to expand the number of justices if they win the presidency and Senate to alter the ideological balance on the high court.

Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Beddingfield declined to comment on Republican charges that Democrats plan to "pack the court" with liberal justices.

"This is a distraction they want to throw out as a hypothetical that they want to throw out right now to distract from the fact they are trying to ram through a nominee who, as I said, is going to change the makeup of the court against the will of the American people," Beddingfield told CNN.

Biden also continued to decline to comment on Republican charges of a plan to enlarge the Supreme Court.

However, expanding the court gained traction during this year's Democratic presidential Primary. As many as 11 candidates were at least open to it, according to a Washington Post tally.

Fragile Talks on COVID-19 Relief Continue

The White House sought additional talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on a new COVID-19 relief package, noting that the gap between the $2.2 trillion plan sought by Democrats and a revised $1.8 trillion offer from Trump had narrowed.

"We could do it as standalone bills or an omnibus bill or whatever," White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNN.

Kudlow said he "did not understand the intransigence from my Democratic friends," although at least 20 Senate Republicans object to Trump's $1.8 trillion offer as too expensive.

On Saturday, Pelosi called Trump's offer insufficient and said it amounted to one-step forward and two steps back.

Biden maintained a 12-point lead nationwide lead in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll on Sunday, with a 54-42 percent margin, with third party Libertarian and Green Party candidates drawing 3 percent support.

Polls continue to show Biden with narrower leads in key states that are needed to win the presidency, with the latest survey by Baldwin Wallace University showing Biden with a 5 point lead in Pennsylvania and a 7 point lead in Wisconsin.

Trump owes much of his surprise victory in 2016 to upsets in both states, which he won with narrow margins.

Nearly 200,000 Additional COVID-19 Deaths

With Trump's response to the COVID-19 crisis another key issue dominating the campaign, the University of Washington (state) Institute for Health Metrics' latest projection shows a US death toll of 392,000 on February 1 compared with the present total of nearly 220,000.

Health experts blamed the expected increase on cold winter weather driving people indoors where the virus readily spreads, especially with family events during the upcoming holiday season.