The United States presidential election is in 12 days.
Here is a summary of the top 5 political issues making headlines today.
1. One poll has Biden, Trump now virtually tied in Texas
With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, a new poll shows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Republican U.S. President Donald Trump virtually tied among voters in Texas, usually a big prize with the state’s 38 Electoral College votes going to the Republican candidate.
The Quinnipiac University survey found Biden and Trump deadlocked at 47 percent among likely voters in Texas, with Biden closing a 5-point gap since late September.
However, other polls do show the president ahead in a state analysts say he must win to retain the presidency.
Another Quinnipiac poll has Biden up 8 percentage points on Trump in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state where victory and the state’s 20 electoral votes could prove the decisive margin.
Wednesday, Trump held a rally in North Carolina, another in-play state both he and Biden are making final efforts to win. Biden’s running mate, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, also campaigned in North Carolina on Wednesday.
Biden had no public events of his own as he prepared for Thursday’s final debate with Trump.
2. Mute button in final debate might give voters chance to hear
The stakes will be as high as they get for both U.S. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, in Thursday’s nationally televised debate in Nashville, Tennessee.
But the rules for the second and final presidential debate will be a little different in an effort to get the two candidates to stop talking over each other and give voters more of an opportunity to hear the issues discussed.
A mute button will be used when the two candidates address the topics selected for discussion: battling covid-19, American families, national security, leadership, climate change and race in the United States.
NBC News’ White House correspondent Kristen Welker, the debate moderator, will ask a question at the beginning of each of the six segments. While Trump is giving his two-minute response, Biden’s microphone will be muted to limit interruptions. Trump’s microphone will, in turn, be muted when Biden is answering.
No one, least of all the members of the U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates, which added the mute button, wants a repeat of the chaos of the first debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29. The verbal brawl led the Times of London to write: “The clearest loser from the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was America.”
The “was not a debate in any meaningful sense,” the paper said, but rather “an ill-tempered and at times incomprehensible squabble between two angry septuagenarians who palpably loathe each other.”
b. Analysis: In final debate, Trump seeks a drastic comeback – Al Jazeera
3. Melania Trump noticeable by not being on campaign trail
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, who tested positive for the coronavirus as did her husband, U.S. President Donald Trump, earlier this month, has been noticeable by her absence on the campaign trail as the election enters its final weeks.
On Tuesday, citing an “abundance of caution” and a “lingering cough” after her bout with covid-19, Melania Trump backed out of a planned appearance with her husband to introduce him at a Pennsylvania rally, CNN reported.
A source who knows the first lady told the cable news network that Melania Trump “does what she wants, when she wants.”
Coming to the first lady’s defense, a White House official said: “I’m not sure why she’s being criticized for taking care of herself and her son when they both tested positive for coronavirus.”
“A lot of Americans have already voted but, as we’ve seen, much of this is a turnout game,” Kate Andersen Brower, author of “First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies,” told CNN.
“So no, I don’t think it would be too late for her to have some impact if she went out now. She might be able to energize those Trump voters who are not as enamored with him now as they once were,” Brower said.
a. First Lady Melania Trump: ‘My personal experience with COVID-19’ – White House
b. WATCH: Melania Trump’s full speech at the Republican National Convention | 2020 RNC Night 2 – PBS NewsHour
4. Obama back in Philadelphia in support of Biden
Former U.S. President Barack Obama led a rally at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex Wednesday in support of his vice president Joe Biden’s efforts to beat U.S. President Donald Trump in the upcoming election and increase voter turnout in America’s sixth most populous city.
“Eight months into this pandemic, cases are rising again across this country,” Obama told the Biden supporters. “Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us. He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”
“This is not a reality show. This is reality,” Obama added. “And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”
Obama previously had had a limited active role in the Biden-Harris campaign.
But, as The Atlantic reports, Obama, “did draw 120,826 viewers to the grassroots fundraiser he appeared at in June for Biden, raising $11 million in small donation — way more people, and probably more money, than he could have raised at a single live event.”
The former president is now scheduled to make a series of public appearances in support of Biden during the countdown to Election Day.
b. Can Joe Biden Step Out From Obama’s Shadow? – Huffington Post
5. Lebron James, other stars urges younger Blacks to vote
Talk about star power.
More Than a Vote, which aims to increase voter turnout among younger African-American voters, educate them on political issues and end racist vote suppression has just that.
Basketball star Lebron James heads the organization, which is made up of prominent athletes and artists.
In an interview with The New York Times, James said More Than a Vote is trying to recruit more than 40,000 poll workers, restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people and have National Basketball Association arenas used as voting places.
“We want better. We want change in our community. We always talk about, ‘We want change,’ and now we have the opportunity to do that,” James told the newspaper.
“We’ve been talking about voter suppression, we’ve been talking about police brutality, systemic racism,” he said. “We’ve had so many things going on, and voter suppression in our communities happens to be at the forefront. So that’s something we wanted to educate our people on.”
“We believe that Black people, our community, we’ve been pushed away from our civic duty. We’ve been fed misinformation for many years,” added James, who said his goal is to get more young Black people to vote.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, More Than a Vote wants young, healthy volunteers to work at polling stations so older, more vulnerable poll workers do not put themselves at risk.