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Harris Aide Calls Senator’s Remarks ‘Racist’: Campaign Update

Ryan Teague Beckwith
·12-min read

(Bloomberg) -- Georgia Senator David Perdue appeared to deliberately mispronounce Kamala Harris’ name at a rally for President Donald Trump. Google has shared information on attempted campaign hacks with U.S. agencies. And Trump called the Bidens “an organized crime family.”

Other Developments:

Trump Undercuts Campaign Reset as He Weighs Prospect of DefeatBiden Looks Inside the Beltway in Forging National Security TeamStates Shatter Early Voting Records as Democrats Drive TurnoutBiden Proves the Bigger Draw in Town-Hall Duel With Trump

Aide Says Senator’s Mangling of Harris’ Name Was ‘Incredibly Racist’

Perdue, Georgia’s senior senator, appeared to intentionally mispronounce Harris’ name on Friday, drawing a rebuke from the Democratic vice-presidential nominee’s spokesperson, who denounced the remarks as ”incredibly racist.”

“Kamala? Kamala? Kamala-mala-mala? I don’t know. Whatever,” Perdue, a Republican, said at a rally for Trump in Macon, Georgia.

Perdue, one of Trump’s closest allies, and Harris have served together for years in the Senate.

“Well, that is incredibly racist,” tweeted Sabrina Singh, Harris’ press secretary. “Vote him out and vote for @ossoff.”

Perdue is in a hotly contested race for re-election. His Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, tweeted out a video clip of the mangling of Harris’ name, and said “We are so much better than this.”

“Senator Perdue never would have done this to a male colleague. Or a white colleague. And everyone knows it,” Ossoff added in a later tweet.

Perdue campaign’s spokesman, John Burke, said in a text message.“Senator Perdue simply mispronounced Senator Harris’ name, and he didn’t mean anything by it.”

“He was making an argument against the radical socialist agenda that she and her endorsed candidate Jon Ossoff are pushing,” Burke added.

Trump frequently attacks Harris -- the first Black and Indian-American woman to be nominated to join a major party ticket -- calling her a “monster” and referring to her by her first name. -- Steven Dennis and Billy House

Google Tells U.S. Agencies About Chinese, Iranian Phishing Attacks (6:08 p.m.)

Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it has been sharing intelligence with U.S. agencies about Chinese and Iranian hacking groups that targeted staffers of both major presidential campaigns with phishing attacks.

While Google has not seen any evidence that attacks on the campaigns -- which the company reported in June -- were successful, Google has seen other attacks by the Chinese group that was responsible for targeting the Biden campaign, according to a blog post on Friday. The group, known as APT31, has used difficult-to-detect techniques, including sending malware by impersonating McAfee, the antivirus software company.

“Overall, we’ve seen increased attention on the threats posed by APTs in the context of the U.S. Election,” Google said in the blog post.

“U.S government agencies have warned about different threat actors, and we’ve worked closely with those agencies and others in the tech industry to share leads and intelligence about what we’re seeing across the ecosystem.” -- Alyza Sebenius

Trump Calls Bidens ‘Organized Crime Family’ (4:14 p.m.)

Trump called the Bidens “an organized crime family” during an event in Florida on Friday, complaining again that social media networks were limiting the sharing of an unsubstantiated New York Post story about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

“Hunter made no money until his father became vice president and now he’s like a vacuum cleaner,” Trump said at the official White House event in Fort Myers, ostensibly intended for him to deliver a speech about his agenda for seniors. “It’s an organized crime family, as far as I’m concerned.”

The Post story, citing unverified emails from a laptop abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop, alleged that Hunter Biden introduced a Ukrainian business partner to his father, who has said he’s never talked with his son about his international business dealings. The emails provided no proof of a meeting. The Ukrainian businessman thanked Hunter Biden for “the opportunity to meet your father.”

The Biden campaign said his calendars showed no record that the former vice president ever met with the businessman.

The laptop’s hard drive was given to Trump ally Steve Bannon, who gave it to Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, who gave it to Giuliani, who gave it to the New York Post.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump was warned last year Giuliani had been targeted by Russian intelligence for an influence operation. Giuliani’s efforts to obtain disparaging information about the Bidens from Ukrainian officials contributed to Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives. -- Jordan Fabian and Mario Parker

Leadership Among Topics at Final Debate (3:53 p.m.)

Thursday’s dueling town halls featured topics like conspiracy theories and White supremacy. It appears that next week’s debate will be a bit tamer.

President Donald Trump and Biden will be asked to discuss the fight against Covid-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday.

NBC’s Kristen Welker will moderate and the topics are subject to change based on news developments.

The debate will be held Thursday at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. It will start at 9 p.m. New York time and will run for 90 minutes without commercial interruption.

The forum was supposed to be the third of three debates but the second event was canceled after Trump pulled out when the CPD announced it would be virtual in response to his recent diagnosis and hospitalization for Covid. Instead, the candidates held simultaneous town halls broadcast on separate networks. -- Emma Kinery

Obama Is Hitting the Road for Biden in Campaign’s Final Days

Biden is getting a little help from his old boss as the presidential campaign enters its final stretch. Obama is heading to Philadelphia next week, the Biden campaign said Friday.

While the former president has for months been campaigning virtually for Biden and other Democrats since Covid restrictions shut down most travel, the Wednesday stop will be his first in-person event of the cycle with less than two weeks until Election Day.

Obama has helped Democrats raise millions of dollars and has appeared at fundraisers with Biden and vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris. He’s also taped solo videos, as well as conversations with Biden and Harris.

He would likely have taken on a much larger in-person campaign role if events hadn’t been limited by Covid-19 restrictions.

Philadelphia is a key target for Obama, since it’s a place where he can work to energize young Black voters who may not be particularly enthusiastic about Biden. -- Jennifer Epstein

Republican Senator Ahead in Polls, Behind in Fundraising (1:45 p.m.)

Republican Senator Dan Sullivan is ahead in Alaska polls, but he’s behind when it comes to fundraising.

In a New York Times/Siena College poll released Friday, 46% of likely voters in Alaska backed Sullivan, 39% backed Democratic challenger Al Gross, and 10% backed third-party candidate John Howe. Trump leads Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by 6 percentage points in the reliably Republican state.

But while Sullivan is ahead 7 points, he’s behind $7 million. In third-quarter filings with the Federal Election Commission, Gross raised $8.6 million, while Sullivan only raised $1.3 million. Other Republican incumbents also came in behind their Democratic challengers in the third quarter, including Senators Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, Kelly Loeffler, David Perdue, Thom Tillis, Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Martha McSally and Cindy Hyde-Smith as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The poll was conducted Oct. 9-14 and has a margin of error of 5.7 percentage points. -- Emma Kinery

Republican Consultant Says Undecided Voters Like Trump’s Policies, Dislike Trump (1:06 p.m.)

Republican political consultant Frank Luntz says undecided voters are split: They like Biden personally, but they also like Trump’s policies.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, the consultant known for his focus groups of undecided voters said they’re different from years past, when they often just needed to learn more about the candidates.

“These people are undecided because they agree with what the administration has done but they don’t like Donald Trump,” he said. “They don’t like the way he communicates, they just don’t like the way that he relates to people.”

At the same time, he said that they “like Joe Biden very much” and feel that he empathizes with them, but they are “still scared about his economic policy and that he won’t be candid on how he stands on the Supreme Court.”

“It’s Joe Biden’s persona versus Donald Trump’s policies,” he said. “They can’t decide which one is more important to them.” -- Emma Kinery

Impeachment Witness Featured in Anti-Trump Ad (10:36 a.m.)

Trump’s impeachment earlier this year has come up as a topic in the election only when he’s raised it to complain about unfair treatment.

But a new anti-Trump ad highlights it.

The one-minute ad from the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, and VoteVets, a liberal veterans group, features retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and his wife, Rachel, talking about Trump’s attacks on him.

The ad shows Vindman testifying before the House of Representatives, where he discussed his concerns about phone calls between Trump and the president of Ukraine, followed by Trump saying he’s “not happy” with him and news reports of his firing.

“The first time I felt threatened was just after Alex’s testimony,” Rachel Vindman says. “The most powerful man in the world came after our family, but what happened to us can happen to anyone.”

The ad will run through the weekend on local news outlets and cable news, a strategy that ensures the kind of news coverage that the president will see. The Lincoln Project has said part of its strategy is to provoke Trump into reacting poorly to its ads and videos.

Price of Soybeans Becomes Viral Debate Moment in Iowa (9:56 a.m.)

It’s a staple of debate questions for incumbents designed to test how well they relate to the average person: What’s the price of milk? But a variation in Iowa flustered a Republican senator in a moment that went viral.

During a debate between Senator Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield Thursday, both candidates were asked about the break-even price on local crops -- the amount at which a typical farmer could recoup their investment.

Greenfield, who grew up on a family farm, correctly put the price of corn at around $3.68 per bushel, noting that was roughly at the break-even point depending on the farmer’s debt load and their crop yield. But Ernst, who also grew up on a farm, struggled when posed the same question about soybeans, saying she thought the moderator asked about corn and saying the price was $5.05, off by about half for soybeans.

Friday morning, corn futures for December delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade traded at $4.06 a bushel, up 0.5%, and soybeans for November delivery were down 0.3% at $10.59 a bushel.

Ernst and Greenfield were participating in the debate remotely, which led to technical difficulties at points in the debate, which Ernst’s defenders pointed out after Greenfield posted a clip of the moment online.

Greenfield is currently ahead by 4.8 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, and the Cook Political Report calls the race a “toss-up.”

Trump Tweets Satirical News Story (7:20 a.m.)

The president tweeted a satirical news story about Twitter without noting that it is literally fake news.

On Friday morning, Trump tweeted a link to the Babylon Bee, a conservative humor site that posts satirical news articles.

Riffing on the recent controversy over Twitter’s decision to slow the spread of a controversial New York Post story on Hunter Biden as well as a recent Twitter outage, the Bee article claimed that Twitter had shut down its “entire network” to slow the “spread of negative Biden news.”

“Wow, this has never been done in history,” Trump tweeted. “This includes his really bad interview last night. Why is Twitter doing this. Bringing more attention to Sleepy Joe and Big T.”

Stories from the Babylon Bee are often mistaken for news stories and circulated on social media, leading at least one fact-checking site to regularly point out that they are attempts at satire.

At Thursday’s town-hall forum, “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie challenged Trump over his tweets of conspiracy theories, saying that as president he’s “not, like, someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever.”

Trump responded by saying that he uses social media to “get the word out” because “the media is so fake and so corrupt.”

Biden Narrowly Ahead in Florida Poll (6 a.m.)

Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a 3 percentage-point advantage over Trump in Florida, a critical battleground in November, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released Friday.

The poll showed that 48% of registered voters in Florida backed Biden, while 45% favored Trump. But the number of undecided voters in the poll, 6%, indicates the race remains wide open. Biden’s lead was also within the survey’s margin of error of 4 points.

The poll showed Biden leading among Democrats, independents, women, African-Americans and Hispanics. Trump was ahead among Republicans, men and White voters.

Florida remains the most closely fought battleground, with Biden ahead by 2.7 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls.

The poll of 625 registered voters in Florida was conducted Oct. 8-12.

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