Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.
We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail:
LEADING THE DAY:
Happy Friday! From talk of invoking the 25th Amendment to President Trump’s two-hour call into the Rush Limbaugh show, it’s been another chaotic day in Washington to say the least.
Let’s get you up to speed.
The day kicked off with Democrats rolling out legislation that would establish a panel to examine a sitting president’s ability to perform their duties, and potentially to remove the commander in chief from office if they are found to be debilitated.
The legislation would invoke the 25th Amendment, which empowers Congress to create “a body” which, working with the vice president, can remove a president deemed “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
To be clear, any panel created by the legislation would apply to future administrations, but it’s a hit at Trump, who is facing questions from Democrats over his mental acuity in the wake of his coronavirus treatments. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who unveiled the legislation, has openly questioned whether Trump’s COVID-19 treatments have impacted his decisionmaking skills.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted the legislation as “absolutely absurd.” The bill has no chance of being enacted this session, with Congress on recess and the Senate and White House currently controlled by Republicans.
Meanwhile, sources told The Hill that Trump and his aides offered Pelosi a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package. The latest figure is a jump from their last offer of $1.6 trillion. However, we don’t know yet if Pelosi will be willing to move down from her demand for a $2.2 trillion package.
Trump made news on the issue while he was on Limbaugh’s show this afternoon, saying he wanted a larger package than either Democrats or Republicans have offered. The comments are a break with what his own White House is currently offering leaders on Capitol Hill.
McConnell said he does not expect the White House and Congress to reach a deal on a coronavirus spending package prior to Election Day.
And speaking of Trump’s call into Limbaugh’s show … the president spent a whopping two hours on the conservative talk radio program, in what the president’s reelection campaign dubbed the “largest radio rally in history.”
Trump spent the call lashing out as his usual targets, including the news media, Black Lives Matter and Democrats.
“To be with you two hours, you have no idea. It’s a great honor,” Trump told Limbaugh.
Democrats unveil bill creating panel to gauge president’s ‘capacity,’ by Mike Lillis
Trump and allies try to reframe 25th Amendment talk by shifting focus to Biden, by Brett Samuels
McConnell: Coronavirus relief deal unlikely before election, by Jordain Carney
Trump proposes $1.8T coronavirus relief package, by Morgan Chalfant and Scott Wong
Trump calls into Rush Limbaugh’s show for two hours, by Brett Samuels
Next Thursday’s debate is still off the board at the moment.
Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, called into Fox News Channel this morning to cast doubt on the president’s health and defend the organization’s unilateral decision to move from an in-person debate to a virtual debate.
Fahrenkopf said “there is no evidence” that the president will have tested negative for the coronavirus before Thursday. Fox’s Brian Kilmeade said he spoke to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows this morning, who said the president would have two negative COVID-19 tests by Oct. 15.
“Supposedly he passes one, and then he doesn’t have the other, and then the whole debate’s gone,” Fahrenkopf responded.
Meanwhile, Trump picked a fight with C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully who was scheduled to moderate Thursday’s debate. Trump called Scully, who briefly supported Biden at one point decades ago, a “Never Trumper.”
Scully on Friday denied sending a tweet to former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, a Trump ally-turned-critic, asking how to respond to the president. Scully says his Twitter account was hacked.
FROM THE STATES:
North Carolina Senate candidate Cal Cunningham (D) declined multiple times on Friday to say whether he carried on other extramarital affairs after he admitted last week to exchanging romantic text messages with a woman who is not his wife.
In his first formal news conference since intimate text messages between Cunningham and a married California communications strategist surfaced last week, Cunningham repeatedly dodged questions about whether more revelations about his personal life would come to light.
“I have taken responsibility for the hurt that I’ve caused in my personal life,” Cunningham said. “I apologized to it, I apologized for it. And I know that this campaign – our campaign is about things that are much bigger and more important than just me. It’s about the very issues and people we were just talking to right here.”
Cunningham is running to unseat Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in a race that could help reshape the Senate majority in November. But the text message scandal threatens to upend his campaign in the crucial final month of the race.
Adding to the pressure on Cunningham is the revelation this week that the Army Reserve is investigating him in regard to the affair. (Cunningham is a lieutenant colonel.) For now, at least, it’s unclear how the scandal will effect the race. A handful of polls released this week show Cunningham with a single-digit lead over Tillis, though it’s possible that the controversy hasn’t entirely set in yet.
Max has more on Cunningham’s press conference here.