Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Trump’s assault on democracy likely to anger voters

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Bob Woodward called it “assassinating the presidency” this am. And that’s what that was.

Biden’s strategy:

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David Mastio and Jill Lawrence/USA Today:

Trump-Biden presidential debate in Cleveland: Once is enough. Please make it stop.

Joe Biden delivered two messages: He’s not senile and he will return America to normal. Enuf said.

The Commission on Presidential Debates should cancel the second and third debates scheduled for President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. To hold them would be sadistic. Americans don’t deserve this. Biden didn’t deserve it and neither did the moderator, Chris Wallace.

Trump is uncontrollable and cruel and unpatriotic. He made clear in his closing argument that any election he doesn’t win is rigged and fraudulent. His claims had no basis but may have been enough to scare some people off voting in what used to be the world’s exemplary democracy.

We’ll wait on more comment, though the national outlets will have plenty as the day goes on.  We don’t need another debate.

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What follows is a more normal content lineup.

WaPo:

Early surge of Democratic mail voting sparks worry inside GOP

Of the more than 9 million voters who requested mail ballots through Monday in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine and Iowa, the five battleground states where such data is publicly available, 52 percent were Democrats. Twenty-eight percent were Republicans, and 20 percent were unaffiliated…

Even more alarming to some Republicans, Democrats are also returning their ballots at higher rates than GOP voters in two of those states where that information is available: Florida and North Carolina…

The margins are “stunning” — and bad news for Republicans up and down the ballot, said longtime GOP pollster Whit Ayres. While the Republican Party is focused on getting voters out on Election Day, he noted that older voters who have traditionally supported Republicans are most concerned about being infected with the novel coronavirus and could choose to stay home if the outbreak intensifies as the election near

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Oh, yeah. 

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Ok, that was the debate. Trump did a great job of reinforcing his negatives.

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Dave Catanese/McClatchy:

We’ll stop the bleeding’: Democrats spot erosion of Trump’s rural dominance

Terri Mitko is sure there are former supporters of President Donald Trump who aren’t going to be voting for him again, because she lives with one: Her husband.

“There was a whole ‘I don’t want to vote for Hillary’ contingent. And Hillary’s not running this time,” says Mitko, an attorney and chairwoman of the Beaver County Democratic Party. “Trump was a breath of fresh air and had this schtick going about draining the swamp. … Well, now we’re onto him.”

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Nate Cohn/NY Times:

Biden leads by enough to withstand a polling misfire.New Pennsylvania polls give Biden a significant lead.

For the first time since we started our poll tracker several weeks ago, Joe Biden leads by enough to withstand a repeat of the polling error in 2016.

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Morning Consult:

Biden Carries Post-DNC Image Boost Into the First Presidential Debate

Compared to President Trump, voters more likely to say Biden is compassionate, capable, stable and honest

  • Joe Biden’s favorability (now 50%) has been above water among likely voters since the Democratic National Convention, while a majority views President Trump unfavorably.

  • Heading into the first debate in Cleveland, 44% of voters said they expect Biden to perform best, compared with 41% who said they expect Trump to do better.

  • 86% of voters said their position on the 2020 race was immobile, compared with 14% — including 26% of independents — who said they might change their mind.

Trump Secretly Mocks His Christian Supporters

Former aides say that in private, the president has spoken with cynicism and contempt about believers.

“They’re all hustlers,” Trump said.

The president’s alliance with religious conservatives has long been premised on the contention that he takes them seriously, while Democrats hold them in disdain. In speeches and interviews, Trump routinely lavishes praise on conservative Christians, casting himself as their champion. “My administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith,” he declared at a rally for evangelicals earlier this year. It’s a message his campaign will seek to amplify in the coming weeks as Republicans work to confirm Amy Coney Barrett—a devout, conservative Catholic—to the Supreme Court.

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WaPo:

CDC’s credibility is eroded by internal blunders and external attacks as coronavirus vaccine campaigns loom

For decades, the agency stood at the forefront of fighting disease outbreaks. This time, it’s dealing with a crisis of its own.

The CDC had been preparing for decades for this moment — the arrival of a virus rampaging across the planet, inflicting widespread death and suffering.

But 2020 has been a disaster for the CDC.

The agency’s response to the worst public health crisis in a century — the coronavirus pandemic — has been marked by technical blunders and botched messaging. The agency has endured false accusations and interference by Trump administration political appointees. Worst of all, the CDC has experienced a loss of institutional credibility at a time when the nation desperately needs to know whom to trust.

This harsh assessment does not come from political or ideological enemies of the CDC. It comes from the agency’s friends and supporters — and even from some of the professionals within the agency’s Atlanta headquarters.

“Since late February, the CDC has lost massive amounts of credibility,” said Jody Lanard, a physician who worked for nearly two decades as a pandemic communications adviser consulting with the World Health Organization.

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Brian Galle/USA Today:

Trump tax returns are not just good for gossip. Here are 3 reasons voters should care.

Trump didn’t want us to know what was in his returns. Was he honest with the IRS? Did hiding information make him a security risk? Is he fit to lead?

A common trick that tax-evading business owners use is to have the business buy things for them directly, and then not report the purchase as income for the owner. In my time as a federal prosecutor, I saw small businesses pay for their owners’ “home office” renovation — actually a lavish kitchen remodel — or for “compensation” for love interests of the owner that were actually just big gifts.

So when we read that the president claimed deductions for hair styling, private jets and big parties at his home, we are seeing behavior typical of expenditures investigators see in tax-evading family businesses. Sometimes these expenses are legitimate. No, you can’t deduct your hair stylist expenses. But for many questionable business expenses, an IRS auditor would have to give the taxpayer a chance to prove that, say, his mansion really is an investment property, not a playground for his adult children.

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, Daily Kos reports

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