July 28, 2017

Early Friday morning, the GOP's seven-year mission to kill ObamaCare ended with a dramatic thumbs-down, when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) strode into the Senate chamber and cast a surprising no vote on his party's third attempt this week to roll back the Affordable Care Act:

McCain's vote prompted gasps from his assembled colleagues — and proved decisive in killing the bill. He joined Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) in dissent, along with all Democrats, and the proposal was defeated 49-51. A disappointed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, "It's time to move on."

Read more about how McCain ended up casting the deciding vote at Politico. Kimberly Alters

7:50 a.m.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll of Wisconsin and Michigan released Wednesday morning had good news for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. In Michigan, the poll found him beating President Trump by a modest 7 percentage points among likely voters, 51 percent to 44 percent, within the margin of error. But Biden's lead in Wisconsin was 17 points among both likely and registered voters, a lead so large The Washington Post suggested it might be "significantly more bullish for Biden than some other public polls" because of "variation in random sample surveys."

Biden's Wisconsin lead in the RealClearPolitics average is 5.5 points (49.8 percent to 44.3 percent), and FiveThirtyEight puts Biden ahead by 7.1 points, 51.4 percent to 44.3 percent. RealClearPolitics also gives Biden a 9-point lead in Michigan (50.5 percent to 41.5 percent), while FiveThirtyEight pegs it at 8.3 points, 50.9 percent to 42.6 percent. Biden has led in both states for months now; Trump won both by narrow margins in 2016 — 10,704 votes out of 4.8 million cast in Michigan and 22,748 out of 3 million votes in Wisconsin.

Trump's approval rating and poll numbers are down in both states compared with the last Washington Post/ABC News poll, and the pollsters attribute his especially precipitous fall in Wisconsin — Biden led by just 6 points in mid-September — to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wisconsin is "now reported to be third in the nation in per capita COVID-19 cases, with a 53 percent increase in average daily cases in the past two weeks, a record number of hospitalizations, and a 112 percent jump in deaths," ABC News reports. And the polls bear that out: Biden now leads Trump by 20 points on who Wisconsin voters trust to handle the outbreak, from 7 points in September.

Biden's lead is also fueled in both states by double-digit leads among women and majorities of older voters.

The polls were conducted via phone, mostly cellphones, Oct. 20-25 among 789 likely voters in Michigan and 809 likely Wisconsin voters. The margin of sampling error in both states is ± 4 percentage points. Peter Weber

6:46 a.m.

Trevor Noah had a good laugh on Tuesday's Daily Show about a Florida man who stole a bulldozer from an Arby's and tore up Joe Biden lawn signs in people's yards, followed by a good-natured lecture on how politics has taken over our lives. "Meanwhile, President Trump, the Florida Man in chief, is holding coronavirus giveaways all across the Midwest — and he clearly is getting tired of attacking Joe Biden because now he's putting effort into getting Kamala Harris," he said. Trump's attacks on the Democratic vice presidential nominee are outlandish, mendacious, and a little revealing.

"I love that a 'female socialist' president is Trump's worst nightmare," Noah said. "Because now I can just picture him waking up in a cold sweat and Melania just being like, 'Oh no, honey, was it the female socialist president again?' I'm just kidding, Melania and Trump don't share a bedroom." He also found it amusing that Trump is criticizing Harris' laugh, or anything else about her. "My man, you look like you were built by the same company who made the Tower of Pisa," Noah said. "I'm surprised people don't pose in front of you as well."

At The Late Show, musical director Jon Batiste went the other direction and created a whole song about Harris, his MVP, "most vice presidential."

The Late Show also mocked Jared Kushner's comments on Black people not wanting success. You can watch that below. Peter Weber

5:51 a.m.

President Trump flew into Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday night to hold a rally in the state's 2nd Congressional District, which has its own single Electoral College vote and also abuts western Iowa, a state where he is essentially tied with Democrat Joe Biden. Trump spoke for about 47 minutes at Eppley Airfield. "A reporter estimated that more than 6,000 people attended the rally," the Omaha World-Herald reports. "Law enforcement and campaign sources estimated the crowd above 10,000. Trump said the crowd was 29,000."

Trump's speech went fine. The aftermath, not so much.

Fox News correspondent Jeff Paul posted some video from 90 minutes after the rally ended, pegging the temperature outside at about 32 degrees, freezing.

"The event itself seemed poorly planned from the beginning," Paige Godden reports at Iowa Starting Line. The parking lots were full, the shuttle buses for the 3.5-mile ride to the rally venue intermittent, and the lines long everywhere. People were still waiting to get in even after Trump started speaking, Godden writes. "Some started shouting for the line to move faster, and some began saying they needed to use the restroom and threatened to relieve themselves while waiting in line." Read more at Iowa Starting Line. Peter Weber

5:00 a.m.

"Guys, we are just one week away from Election Day," Jimmy Fallon said on Tuesday's Tonight Show. "I can't believe it's that soon — I mean, it feels like the last four years have just really flown by." Actually, "seven days is still a lot of time: If you get in line to vote now, there's a really good chance you'll make it to the front by Nov. 3," he joked. "Over 65 million have already voted, and thanks to the Supreme Court, almost three million of those will be counted."

President Trump and Joe Biden are flying around the country, but especially Trump. "Usually the only people who travel this much are salesmen and fugitives," Fallon said. "I'm not sure Trump's rallies are really moving the needle. It's hard to convince voters you deserve a second term when your speech has 42 mentions of the word 'plague.'"

Yes, "the biggest news in the election is the coronavirus, and things are only getting plague-ier," Stephen Colbert said on The Late Show. Things are especially dire in swing states, where Trump's COVID-19 approval ratings are slipping and people are mad about "his super-spreader rallies," he added. "Apparently, voters are not responding to his campaign's closing message: Let the maskless man spit on you!" He cut together Biden and Trump making their very different "closing arguments to the American voters."

With a week until voting ends, "I feel like I'm waiting for the results of a biopsy right now — that's the mood I'm in," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. "Donald Trump's doing his best to keep the COVID going. He had three rallies today, he's got two more tomorrow, despite the fact that at his rallies in Minnesota last month, each one of those rallies was the site of a virus outbreak," state officials determined. "I remember the good old days when the only disease we worried about Donald Trump spreading was syphilis," he joked. But at least former President Barak Obama, stumping for Biden, "seems to be having fun with this"

"Often on this show, we mock Donald Trump for going off the rails while speaking, but Obama proved today it can happen to the best of us," James Corden said at The Late Late Show. Except his entire band got the Popeye reference that went over Corden's head, and you can watch that — plus a pretty solid Trump-Amish joke — below. Peter Weber

2:59 a.m.

The Senate adjourned Monday night until the week after the Nov. 3 election, officially ending all hopes of COVID-19 economic relief legislation being passed before voting ends, and probably much longer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had made clear he did not want to vote on a roughly $2 trillion package being negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and, on behalf of President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Trump had sent mixed messages, but tended toward enthusiasm for an expensive package. Pelosi threw in the towel Tuesday.

"For a long time now, congressional Democrats have laid out a strategic plan to crush the virus," Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats. "The White House and Mitch McConnell have resisted, and on Sunday, Mark Meadows told us why saying 'We're not going to control the pandemic.'" The White House, she added, "has failed miserably — not by accident, but by decision" — and while the House will "continue to put pen to paper" on legislation, "the president's words only have meaning if he can get Mitch McConnell to take his hand off the pause button."

The president's words on Tuesday were to accuse Pelosi of being "interested in bailing out badly-run, crime-ridden Democrat cities and states," not "helping the people," and promising: "After the election, we will get the best stimulus package you have ever seen." U.S. stock indexes dropped markedly again Tuesday on fading hopes for a financial stimulus and rapidly rising COVID-19 infections. Peter Weber

1:59 a.m.

The Russian government on Tuesday imposed a nationwide mask mandate, after more than 114,000 coronavirus cases were recorded in the country over the last seven days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had been avoiding having to take such a measure, instead leaving it up to regional leaders, The New York Times reports, but the government is trying to curb the spread of the virus amid a second wave. There have been more than 1.5 million confirmed cases in Russia, and 26,000 deaths.

Under the mandate, people must wear masks on public transportation, in taxis, elevators, and parking garages, and in any public place where more than 50 people can gather. The government did not say how this order will be enforced, the Times notes. Rospotrebnadzor, the federal health watchdog agency, is also asking Russia's regional governors to order restaurants and entertainment venues close their doors by 11 p.m.

On Tuesday, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, entered self-quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. The coronavirus has swept through Russia's lower house of parliament, with its speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, telling Putin on Monday that 91 of the assembly's 450 representatives have or had the virus, and 38 are now hospitalized because of it, the Times reports. Catherine Garcia

1:59 a.m.

With a week before the final day of voting in the 2020 election, President Trump is holding up to several rallies a day, serving up "an all-you-can-eat buffet of new messages and content," Alex Thompson writes at Politico. (Democratic nominee Joe Biden, he notes, "has been so focused and undeviating that his closing message is quite literally his opening message.") A new line Trump has added to his rally routine is about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), commonly known as AOC. Specifically, Trump keeps asking if Ocasio-Cortez went to college.

"Did she go to college?" Trump asked in Wisconsin on Tuesday. "Tell me, did she, because I don't know. I don't know her background, but it is not heavy into the environment."

This was the second day in a row Trump has tried out this line, and people aren't quite sure why. If he is trying to taunt or belittle her, Ocasio-Cortez doesn't seem to care. Instead, she turned Trump's "classist and disgusting" slight back at him.

Trump is said to know his base, heavy on white people who didn't attend college, better than the pundits, so presumably he thinks this plays well politically. But if he is going to win, he needs to win back some of the suburban women who have dumped him. He had a new pitch for them, too, on Tuesday.

Trump is also telling his tightly packed, largely maskless rallies he will get rid of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but sometimes it just doesn't come out right. Peter Weber

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