The TAKE with Rick Klein
Biden's CNN town hall was notable for social distancing in the drive-in-style setup -- a contrast with the Trump campaign event in Wisconsin that featured few masks and even less social distancing, and a speech delivered in front of Air Force One.
If Biden had a hometown advantage among the questioners at the Pennsylvania town hall, he played it up: "I really do view this campaign as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue."
Biden is selling truth-telling in contrast to what he casts as dangerous bluster and Trump casts as cheerleading. At the same time, moves to the left that marked the primary season were long gone in a Biden who said he favors continuing fracking and said curtly, of the Green New Deal, "I have my own deal."
He told Anderson Cooper that he benefitted from white privilege -- a notion Trump has rejected -- but he then pivoted to class: "Grow up here in Scranton. We're used to guys who look down their nose at us."
It's a piece of Biden's argument that seeks to turn one of Trump's biggest issue advantages, on the economy, on its head. As Trump told his supporters in Wisconsin Thursday night, "Biden would absolutely eradicate your state's economy."
But Biden was not and is not the candidate Trump thought he would be running against. Part of what he brings to the campaign's final stretch will be where he is from.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
For a president who says he does not want to create panic, Trump spent much of Thursday saying that fundamental American institutions currently were at risk of collapse and that the country's systems of governing were out of control.
First, in a series of tweets, he claimed again without evidence or explanation that this election would be "rigged" but offered no solutions for helping, as the president, to make sure that would not be the case. He elevated issues some key states have had with initial ballots these last few weeks, but local officials from Michigan to North Carolina replied that his claims were overblown or false.
Later at an event at the National Archives, home to some of the nation's founding documents, Trump made grand and extreme statements that voters and advocates on the other side of the aisle were currently attacking everything from the Constitution to the very teaching of U.S. history -- at least, as he sees fit. Throughout his speech he minimized the legacy of slavery. And, though at times with coded language, he made clear he objected to any new attempts to further include additional stories and perspectives from racial and ethnic minorities that for so long have been silenced, excluded and under-represented in the national discourse.
"The left has warped, distorted and defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehoods and lies. There is no better example than The New York Times' totally discredited 1619 project. This project rewrites American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom," he said Thursday.
The 1619 Project, an ongoing initiative of the New York Times Magazine, marks the year when the first enslaved Africans arrived in the U.S. and aims to call attention to the lasting consequences of slavery.
As his signature slogan has long suggested, the president said again that he is most interested in an old narrative about the country's past.
A Hollywood actor who grew up in Wisconsin and went on to star in "The West Wing," a staffer whose friend grew up with Cary Elwes of "The Princess Bride" and a nation that's fluent in Zoom: Those were the makings of the new model that the Wisconsin Democratic Party has gone to town on, bringing together casts from Hollywood productions with cult followings and netting millions of dollars for Biden in the tooth-and-nail fight against Trump in the battleground state.
Last Sunday night, it was a reading of "The Princess Bride" by the original cast. The party brought in $4.25 million from 130,000 unique donors, with an average donation of $30.14. Only eight other events brought in as much money for Democrats during the month of August.
Before that, it was a fundraiser with Bradley Whitford, a native of Madison who played White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman in "The West Wing." There were 6,000 people who watched. And on Thursday night, it was a town hall with the cast of "Parks and Recreation," including Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman and Aubrey Plaza, who hilariously walked Wisconsinites through the steps of voting by mail. They drew more than 13,000 viewers and raised over $430,000.
"It's a new model for -- or a kind of grassroots engagement and fundraising and volunteer mobilization that really is the product of an election that matters so, so intensely for everyone, and a pandemic that puts people in front of Zoom screens across the country on a regular basis," said Ben Wikler, chair of the Wisconsin Democrats and a self-proclaimed "diehard, lifelong superfan" of "The Princess Bride," who mouthed along to the entire script reading.
ONE MORE THING
Elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich takes a look at FiveThirtyEight's presidential forecast and asks what weird -- and not-so-weird -- scenarios could shake out in the 2020 election. For example, what's the chance that President Donald Trump loses the popular vote but wins the election again?
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas, who explains why Attorney General William Barr's comments, aimed at prosecutors, have critics questioning Barr's independence. ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz brings us the latest on the suspected poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. And ABC News Senior Washington reporter Devin Dwyer previews early in-person voting, which will be taking place in some professional sports arenas across the country. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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