PBS NewsHour


October 26, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode

October 26, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode

AIRED: October 26, 2020 | 0:56:45

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.

On the "NewsHour" tonight: eight days to go. President Trump and Joe Biden intensify their

campaign travel, as Vice President Pence's staff endures a COVID outbreak and early voting

continues to break records.

Then: confirmation. The Senate holds a vote to elevate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the

Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Plus: a troubling surge. Hospitals nationwide struggle to handle a major influx of COVID

patients, as infections rise dramatically across the U.S.

And securing the vote. As the election approaches, questions remain about the integrity of voting

machines in Georgia.

J. ALEX HALDERMAN, University of Michigan: There's a lot more we have to learn about

Georgia's election system, and that's going to help inform how to better secure elections,

not just in Georgia in November, but across the country for years to come.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."


JUDY WOODRUFF: The clock is ticking down, and the candidates' schedules are tightening

up tonight in the U.S. presidential race.

And, as they enter the homestretch, the coronavirus is again roiling the race.

DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: So, thank you very much, Allentown.

JOE BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate: And I like Luzerne County!

JUDY WOODRUFF: As the candidates enter the final week of the presidential campaign, the

COVID-19 pandemic is top of mind.

The White House has once again been rattled by the virus, after at least five of Vice

President Pence's close aides tested positive over the weekend.

White House doctors said he's considered essential personnel and cleared Mr. Pence to keep up

his schedule, stumping today in Minnesota.

MIKE PENCE, Vice President of the United States: Four more years means more jobs in the Iron

Range and all over Minnesota. Four more years means more judges who will defend our liberties.

Four more years means more support for our police and more support for our troops.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But the rally also violated state's COVID restrictions, as many of President

Trump's campaign events have done.

This comes after the U.S. set a new daily record for COVID-19 infections on Friday and

nearly matched that high on Saturday, more than 83,000 new cases.

President Trump continues to assure Americans the virus is under control, and he claims

the number of cases is surging because the country has ramped up testing.

In fact, records show testing accounts for only a small percentage of the rise in cases.

But, on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made this concession:

MARK MEADOWS, White House Chief of Staff: We're not going to control the pandemic. We

are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation



JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Why aren't we going to get control?

JUDY WOODRUFF: For his part, President Trump made three stops today in the battleground

state of Pennsylvania.

DONALD TRUMP: Pennsylvania gets it. By the way, we win Pennsylvania, we win the whole

thing. You got to get out there.


DONALD TRUMP: Got to win. Big deal, right?

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, this afternoon, Biden paid a brief visit to a site involved

in turning out Democratic voters in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

JOE BIDEN: The bottom line is, Donald Trump is the worst possible president, the worst

possible person to try to lead us through this pandemic.

And I don't think he just -- he either doesn't have any idea what to do or he just doesn't


JUDY WOODRUFF: Joe Biden campaigned in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday.

JOE BIDEN: Trump ran around saying he represents the forgotten man and woman in his country.

I get it. But then he got elected, and he immediately forgot the forgotten man.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I spoke to voters from the area, which was key in helping then candidate

Trump take the entire state back in 2016.

Northeast Pennsylvania experienced the largest regional flip in the state. President Obama's

roughly 36,000-vote margin in 2012 switched to an 86,000-vote margin for Mr. Trump.

Jim Haigh lives outside Allentown, didn't vote for either Mr. Trump or Hillary Clinton

in the last presidential election. This year, he's voting Biden, based on what he's seen

from the president.

JIM HAIGH, Biden Supporter: Over time, I mean, day after day, month after month, it became

evident to me that there really was no vision, that there really was no moral compass.

If Joe Biden was walking down the sidewalk and found somebody's wallet, he would pick

it up and make sure it got back to that person immediately, where I think Donald Trump would

take that same wallet up, take the cash and credit cards out, and just throw it back on

the sidewalk.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Annie Howell is a staunch Trump supporter who lives in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania,

where Mr. Biden campaigned Saturday.

Howell praised the president's handling of the pandemic and the economy.

ANNIE HOWELL, Trump Supporter: I think that he was very proactive and aggressive in his

approach. I don't see how he could have done things any better at all. And I'm very in

line with him wanting to reopen the economy. People are suffering.

JUDY WOODRUFF: As you know, there's a lot of comment about the president's style, the

strong language he uses in going after his critics, people who he disapproves of, the

tweeting and so forth.

Do you have thoughts about all that? Does that matter to you?

ANNIE HOWELL: I see it as an asset. I'm not opposed to it at all. And I think a lot of

people think what he's thinking, but he actually has the we will call it bravery to express


JUDY WOODRUFF: Leah Casner supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, and was shocked

by the Trump victory.

LEAH CASNER, Biden Supporter ; I had hoped our institutions would be strong enough to

withstand even a Donald Trump. But I fear that that has proven not to be the case.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And then along comes the pandemic. And you watched, and what did you see?

LEAH CASNER: Nothing being done that needed to be done, the refusal to listen to the scientists,

the belittling of it. In this area, we have most -- many people don't take it seriously.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Casner also praised Mr. Biden for choosing California Senator Kamala Harris

as his running mate.

LEAH CASNER: I think his selection of Kamala has been very good for my view of him. I really

felt that he was not quite as respectful of women and of people of color as he could have

been. And this has certainly changed my view of that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Stephen Williams is a Trump supporter from Coopersburg. He says he doesn't

always agree with the president's attacks on Joe Biden or his reluctance to wear a mask.

STEPHEN WILLIAMS, Trump Supporter: I don't like the way the president demeans people.

I can -- it's not very presidential. That's not my style. That bothers me.

But the real reason I'm a Republican is because of abortion. The Democratic Party supports

abortion. I'm totally against it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, thinking about the Trump presidency, how have you thought of it? What's

your impression been?

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: I think he's kept a lot of his promises, most of them, actually. I

have been pleased with the economy, with the sovereign borders, with relations with China

and other countries, the trade deals. I have been very pleased with what he's done so far.

JUDY WOODRUFF: With eight days left until the election, early voting has already soared

to record highs. More than 60 million people have cast their ballots. That's more than

the total who voted early or absentee in 2016.

In the day's other news: The United States Senate moved to confirm federal Judge Amy

Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Majority Republicans lined up behind Barrett, while

Democrats complained again that the Senate should not consider any nominee this close

to an election.

We will report on the debate after the news summary.

Cities across the U.S. are now scrambling to contain fresh waves of COVID-19. Hard-hit

El Paso, Texas, reported a record number of new cases today. Officials urged people to

stay home for two weeks, as patients overwhelm hospitals.

And, in Europe, new surges in Italy forced bars and restaurants to close early, while

a new nighttime curfew in Spain came into force.

Wall Street had a long day, as COVID cases surged and economic stimulus hopes dimmed.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 650 points, more than 2 percent, to close at 27685.

The Nasdaq fell 189 points, and the S&P 500 fell 64.

In Belarus, factory workers, students and businesses staged a one-day national strike,

as longtime President Alexander Lukashenko again defied demands to resign. Crowds of

pensioners and students filled the streets of Minsk, linking arms in solidarity against

Lukashenko and the arrests of thousands in two months of protests.

WOMAN (through translator): Many social groups are now subject to violence. Those are health

workers, journalists, students, and others. They have already been warned to leave the

country. So, I am very worried. I want to see my children, to raise my grandchildren

here in our country. That's why I made this poster.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The protesters say Lukashenko's August reelection was rigged.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other today of violating the latest cease-fire in

Nagorno-Karabakh. Clashes resumed in the disputed mountainous territory populated by ethnic

Armenians inside Azerbaijan. The cease-fire was agreed on Sunday in talks brokered by

the U.S.

China has upped the ante in escalating tensions with the U.S. The Foreign Ministry announced

sanctions today on U.S. military contractors that supply weapons to Taiwan, including Boeing,

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

ZHAO LIJIAN, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman (through translator): As China has repeatedly

pointed out, the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan seriously violates the one-China principle,

and it severely damaged China's sovereignty and security interests. China firmly opposes

and strongly condemns these arms sales.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Beijing also ordered six U.S. news media companies, including ABC, The Los

Angeles Times and Minnesota Public Radio, to file detailed reports on their operations

inside China. Last week, the U.S. ordered six Chinese media outlets to file similar


The 27th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season grew into Hurricane Zeta today. It's

on track to strike Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula tonight, and then head north into the Gulf.

The storm is likely to weaken and to land somewhere between Louisiana and the Florida

Panhandle on Wednesday.

Extreme fire danger is again threatening parts of California. In the South, strong winds

are pushing the Silverado fire in Orange County. That prompted evacuation orders today for

some 70,000 people. In Northern California, more than a million people face blackouts

to prevent high winds from damaging lines and sparking new fires.

The superintendent of Virginia Military Institute resigned today after Black cadets alleged

systemic racism. Retired General J.H. Binford Peay has run the military college since 2003,

and there have been repeated accounts of racist incidents. Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam

has ordered an independent investigation.

And the Republican running for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, Jason Lewis, had emergency surgery

today. His campaign said it was a severe internal hernia, and that the surgery was successful.

Lewis is challenging Tina Smith. He's the incumbent Democratic senator.

Still to come on the "NewsHour": the Senate votes to elevate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to

the Supreme Court; hospitals nationwide struggle to handle a major influx of COVID patients;

the race for Senate in South Carolina remains surprisingly competitive; and much more.

Amy Coney Barrett is poised to become the third Supreme Court justice picked by President

Trump, a legacy that will be felt for years, no matter the outcome of the election.

As John Yang reports, she will quickly have a chance to make her imprint on some big issues.

MAN: Mr. President...

JOHN YANG: As the Senate wrapped up debate on Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme

Court today, there have been bold predictions about what she would do as a justice.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): Almost 50 years of precedent upholding a woman's right to

control her own body are in jeopardy.

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT): Judge Barrett will uphold our cherished constitutional rights,

including the Second Amendment.

JOHN YANG: Replacing the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Barrett, a protege

of the late conservative icon Antonin Scalia, would be the biggest ideological shift in


Marcia Coyle is chief Washington correspondent for "The National Law Journal."

MARCIA COYLE, "The National Law Journal": The court went 11 years without a change in

justices until 2005. That was the longest period in modern history without a change

in personnel on the court. In just 15 years, only four years more, the court has seen seven

new justices. And so that's -- that's something the court itself has to adjust to as well.

JOHN YANG: Once sworn in, Barrett could consider requests for the court to review mail-in ballot

deadline changes for next week's election.

And beginning next week, she's set to take part in oral arguments on some hot-button

cases, November 4, free exercise of religion and nondiscrimination. Can a Philadelphia

Catholic charity reject same-sex foster parents? Questions from Barrett, who describes herself

as a faithful Catholic, are sure to be closely watched to see how she keeps the pledge she

made in her confirmation hearings.

AMY CONEY BARRETT, Supreme Court Justice Nominee: I do see as distinct my personal, moral religious

views and my task of applying the law as a judge.

IRA LUPU, George Washington University Law School: I think she is going to be tested

right away.

JOHN YANG: Ira Lupu of George Washington University law school has filed a friend of the court

brief against the charity's position.

IRA LUPU: I think Amy Coney Barrett is going to have some strong personal views about -- about

the freedom of a Catholic organization to provide social services as it chooses and

about same-sex marriage and the way Catholic services should be entitled to relate to the

question of same-sex marriage.

The question, the mystery is to what extent those views are going to translate into constitutional

views or legal views on the court.

JOHN YANG: November 10, the Affordable Care Act. Should it be struck down as unconstitutional?

The fate of the ACA was a focus for Democrats throughout Barrett's confirmation hearings:

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Your nomination is about the Republican goal of repealing

the Affordable Care Act, the Obamacare they seem to detest so much.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): Unfortunately, that is the cloud, the orange cloud, over

your nomination.

JOHN YANG: As a law school professor, Barrett criticized the previous Supreme Court rulings

upholding the law. In her testimony, she sought to ease concerns.

AMY CONEY BARRETT: I'm not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act. I'm just

here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.

JOHN YANG: And on November 30, the census. Can the Trump administration exclude those

illegally in the country from the numbers used to determine each state's representation

in Congress for the next 10 years?

Not yet on the court's docket, but looming on the horizon, abortion. As a Notre Dame

law school professor, Barrett signed statements affirming her personal anti-abortion beliefs.

During her confirmation hearing, Barrett declined to call Roe vs. Wade a super precedent.

AMY CONEY BARRETT: It's not a case that everyone has accepted and doesn't call for its overruling.

MARY ZIEGLER, Florida State University College of Law: The closest case to the court is Mississippi's

15-week abortion ban. The justices could make a decision to hear that almost as soon as

Barrett joins the court.

JOHN YANG: Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler:

MARY ZIEGLER: The last time we had a Donald Trump nominee on the court who seemed to make

a difference to abortion in Brett Kavanaugh, we saw a virtual explosion of anti-abortion

legislation in 2019.

And so, I would expect, with Amy Coney Barrett, a justice who is at least personally very

pro-life, that you would have a similar explosion and definitely many more appeals to the Supreme


JOHN YANG: Analysts caution against reading too much into Barrett's early cases.

It can be the case that the effect of a new justice on the court isn't really fully known

for some time.

MARCIA COYLE: I think it was Justice Breyer who said that it takes three to five years

before a new justice really begins to feel comfortable being on the court. So, yes, it

could take a while.

JOHN YANG: At 48, Barrett would be the youngest Supreme Court justice in nearly 30 years.

And lifetime tenure means she will likely be on the bench for generations to come.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Dick Durbin of Illinois is the second highest ranking Democrat in the

Senate. He is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And he joins us now from

Capitol Hill.

Senator Durbin, thank you very much for talking with us.

As you know, Republicans are on the verge of confirming President Trump's third appointee

to the Supreme Court. She will be -- Judge Barrett will be sitting on the court as early

as tomorrow.

How -- and this is over the fierce objection of you and every other Democrat. How dig a

setback is this for Democrats?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Well, it's a disappointment, because we -- as you said, we are putting

a person for a lifetime appointment on the highest court of the land.

And to give to President Trump the authority to fill three of those slots with people of

his choosing is a troubling development, particularly at this moment in time.

Judy, if anyone was coursing through the channels today and looking, finding the broadcast of

the United States Senate, they would be shocked to learn that we weren't talking about the

coronavirus. Here we are, with an infection running rampant, 225,000 Americans dead. We

spent five straight days on one Supreme Court nomination.

And, secondly, I think they would be a little surprised that the standard the Republicans

set four years ago to deny President Obama the authority to fill a Supreme Court vacancy

so close to an election is being ignored by the Republicans now.

And then, when they that the hurry-up is so that she will be on the court in time to strike

down the Affordable Care Act in the midst of a pandemic, I think all those things are

very troubling.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, several things to ask you about there, I mean, but starting with

the Senate Republicans and their refusal to act on President Obama's nomination to the

court, Merrick Garland.

The court -- there were eight justices for a year. Is that an argument for adding a couple

of justices to the Supreme Court?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Judy, I don't think anyone has come up with a formula on what to do with

the court in the future.

But I will tell you what I believe the American people are looking for, balance on the court.

They don't want too many Democrats, too many Republicans. They want some people who are

more moderate. They want decisions that are not predictable. They don't want a political

agenda that is going to dictate this court's future rulings.

And that, I think, sadly, is where we're headed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Judge Barrett said during this confirmation hearing that she was not on a

mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Do you believe her?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Well, I'm skeptical, because she's been very outspoken, critical

of the chief justice when he found the act constitutional.

She published an article saying she disagreed with him openly. Critical as well of the Affordable

Care Act itself. And those raise questions as to whether or not she should recuse herself,

at a minimum, recuse herself from this hearing.

And let me say, even though she denies having any bias on the case, President Trump, in

his prodigious tweeting, has said that was what he was looking for. He wanted a Supreme

Court justice who would eliminate the Affordable Care Act. He believes he found one. She may

deny it, but that's what he said.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There is also -- Senator Durbin, as you know, there are two important mail-in

ballot questions before the court right now that affect this election.

Should Judge Barrett recuse herself? Is it a conflict of interests if she participates

in these cases?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: To protect her integrity and the integrity the court, she should recuse

herself from any cases relating to this presidential election, another case where the president

was outspoken in his tweets.

He wanted nine justices on the Supreme Court in case there were any election questions

to come before the court. For goodness' sakes, this president doesn't have an unuttered word.

We know exactly what he's thinking. He wants a friendly justice on the court if he needs

a ruling that makes him a president of the United States again.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Senator, you brought up the question of COVID relief for

the American people.

There's a $2 trillion bill that has been sitting before the Congress since the summer. And

now we're getting close to this election. Speaker Pelosi has said she doesn't want to

come down from a number close to $2 trillion.

Should she agree -- should she agree to compromise on this because of the many, many Americans

who are hurting right now?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Both sides should agree.

But let's be honest. Senator McConnell sent a message to the White House last week and

said: It's over. We're not going to consider any more COVID-19 legislation.

And, unfortunately, he has boycotted all the negotiating sessions. He just won't even attend

them. He has no interest in it. He doesn't see, as he said, a sense of urgency in dealing

with this.

I can tell you, there's a sense of urgency in my state of Illinois and his state of Kentucky,

when you look at the record number of infections and deaths in both of those states. We should

be dealing with this issue. And Speaker Pelosi has tried, tried, tried with this White House.

It would be helpful if the other element, the Republican control of the Senate, would

be part of this negotiation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But you're saying both parties have a responsibility here to negotiate, to

come together?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Oh, absolutely.

And we started at $3.4 trillion. The last number I heard was closer to $2 trillion,

$2.3 trillion from Speaker Pelosi. She's come down dramatically.

But the point she's making was brought home to me today by Illinois hospital administrators.

I had 30 of them on a phone call. They're desperate for help. They are worried that

they can't really meet the needs in my home state with the people who are facing infections

and ICUs. They're looking for a helping hand from Washington.

And here we are doing what? Five straight days on one Supreme Court nominee, not a minute

being spent to find the solution to this coronavirus challenge.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Should Speaker Pelosi accommodate further, more?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Well, I'm calling on both sides to be reasonable.

And I think she has brought the number down dramatically from $3.4 trillion. They're close

enough now, there should be an agreement.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Dick Durbin, we thank you very much for talking with us.


JUDY WOODRUFF: COVID cases are now spiking in parts of the country that were spared the

worst of it earlier on.

But that's not all. Some states are seeing a second surge now. Overall, the country is

averaging close to 75,000 new cases a day over the past seven days.

As William Brangham reports, that's led to a big jump in hospital admissions, straining

health care systems, as we just heard from Senator Durbin, and forcing hospitals to make

very difficult decisions.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That's right, Judy.

Let's talk about Utah as a prime example of this. There were more than 1,600 new cases

in the state yesterday. That's an increase of about 30 percent from just two weeks ago.

The state has suffered more than 570 deaths since the pandemic began.

Hospital officials say their facilities are operating at near capacity, raising the prospect

they could be forced to prioritize who gets admitted to their intensive care units.

Dr. Edward Stenehjem is an infectious diseases specialist with the Intermountain Healthcare

system, which is the biggest system in Utah.

Dr. Stenehjem, very good to have you on the "NewsHour."

As I mentioned, you are seeing this big uptick in cases week over week. How are you handling

that, with all these people coming to your hospitals?

DR. EDWARD STENEHJEM, Intermountain Healthcare: Yes, thanks, William.

I mean, we're doing everything we can within our health care network to ensure that we

really strategize and put the patients where they need to be.

And so we have quite a few hospitals right here in Utah, and we are spreading our patients

out to ensure that all of our hospitals see COVID patients and non-COVID patients alike.

We have had to open up ICUs down in Southwestern Utah. And then we have also added new beds

in one of our orthopedic spine hospitals to accommodate the surge as well.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let's see the cases keep going up. Do you guys have the capacity to

keep expanding and expanding and expanding?

DR. EDWARD STENEHJEM: Yes, so, we expect the cases, at least in the hospital, to keep going

up for a number of weeks.

We know that hospitalization is delayed after the cases are detected. That's typically delayed

from seven to 10 days. And so, at this rate, we can expect our hospitalizations to keep

going up for the next at least seven to 14 days.

And that's assuming that something changes in the community. We have plans to accommodate

this surge. And we have a number of surge plans that we will activate. And so we will

continue to open up ICUs, continue to make room for beds. And we will continue to shut

off some elective surgeries to accommodate further surge.

But the biggest issue is not necessarily the beds. The biggest issue is our health care

workers. That's really the resource that's going to be most limited as this continues.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is that because you simply don't have enough people, or the people you

have are near the end of their rope?

Like, what is that?

DR. EDWARD STENEHJEM: Yes, it's a number of things.

One is, we have been at this for months. And so our caregivers are tired, they're frustrated,

and they keep seeing these patients over and over again.

And the fact of the matter is, as we open up more ICUs, we're not making more ICU doctors.

We're not making more ICU nurses or hospital staff or hospital physicians.

And so we will be in a situation where we will be bringing in physicians, nurse practitioners,

P.A.s to potentially help care for these patients. And so your ICU patient may not be cared for

by an ICU doctor, or they may be overseen by one, but not directly cared for.

And so those are the things we really worry about when our numbers continued to surge,

is that we will have patients that we can't take care of them the way we want to.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I remember, earlier in the pandemic, when things were really bad in New

York, and then in Minnesota, I talked with some hospital officials there who were having

to have very uncomfortable conversations about, if this capacity gets so stressed, we have

to start triaging, in essence, who gets that crucial ICU bed and who doesn't.

Have you guys had those conversations? And how have those gone?

DR. EDWARD STENEHJEM: Yes, the Utah Hospital Association has certainly put forth some guidance

to that to our governor that is looking for approval.

Fortunately, in Utah, we have not had to be in that situation. At this point, we have

been able to manage our patients effectively with the resources we currently have. We certainly

don't look forward to that day. And we have planned for that day and how that will occur

and what will happen.

But we certainly hope that we can stem this tide and not get to that point.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Can you help me understand what you understand to be the drivers of the

epidemic in Utah?

I mean, are people abiding by social distancing and mask-wearing and all of those precautions?

DR. EDWARD STENEHJEM: Yes, it really started - - this surge of the epidemic started when

schools went back in session.

And we saw a really nice uptick in cases in 15-to-25-year-olds. And then, essentially,

like clockwork, they transmitted it to their parents and grandparents in the community.

And so we have seen this pretty aggressive community transmission really been drive -- driven

by that younger age group.

And now we're seeing cases increase in all age groups. And I think it comes back to the

matter is that, yes, we have some state level guidance that is issued per county based on

the number of cases we have, but in the fact that not everybody's following that guidance.

And we're seeing a lot of people in the community not wearing masks, and we're seeing a lot

of large congregate settings where people are not masked and they're transmitting the


So, it comes back down to simple public health measures of wearing a mask if you have to

go out, abiding by social distancing, not getting together in large groups, outside

is better than inside, and handwashing. It's as simple as that.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One last question.

The president has alleged that hospitals are exaggerating the coronavirus death totals.

And he said that they're doing it to make more money, that, if you have a COVID case,

you get more money than if that person is not a COVID case.

He cites no evidence for that. Have you seen any evidence that that is occurring?

DR. EDWARD STENEHJEM: Absolutely not.

And, as a health care worker that has been in this fight now for the past seven months,

I find that comment very insulting.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Dr. Edward Stenehjem of the Intermountain Healthcare system in

Utah, thanks very much for being here.

DR. EDWARD STENEHJEM: Thanks for having me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The confirmation battle over Amy Coney Barrett has put Judiciary Committee

Chairman Lindsey Graham in the political hot seat, as he seeks a fourth term in the U.S.


With one week left in the campaign, Gavin Jackson of South Carolina ETV reports on how

Graham's Democratic challenger is making this a closer race than even Democrats expected.

GAVIN JACKSON: A park near Charleston, South Carolina, transformed into a political battlefield

where more than 100 supporters sounded the war cry with their car horns as Jaime Harrison

rallied his base.

JAIME HARRISON (D), South Carolina Senatorial Candidate: Enough is enough with the hatred!

Enough is enough with the bigotry! Enough is enough with the division!

CROWD: Fill the seat!

GAVIN JACKSON: This Senate race has become the closest statewide race in decades, one

that has Senator Lindsey Graham in the political fight of his life.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He says the main reason he's running against me is because

of the way I behaved in Kavanaugh. The main reason I'm going to win is because of the

way I behaved in Kavanaugh.


GAVIN JACKSON: The same issues that are fueling tight polls and record-breaking fund-raising

by Harrison are the issues Graham hopes will secure him stronger conservative support and

a fourth term, his close support of President Donald Trump and his Supreme Court nominees.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: And thank you, more than anything else, for putting up with the never-ending

bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you have to go through.


GAVIN JACKSON: Graham's push to confirm a Supreme Court nominee in an election year,

despite his previous stance to the contrary, has left many Graham voters fed up.

PATRICK DANIELS, South Carolina Voter: Senator Graham has really disappointed me. I voted

for him several times. Right out of his mouth, what he said: "Use these words against me."

And I did. I used these words against him.

CAROL MORRISON, South Carolina Voter: I'm a 40-year Republican, but you know, I -- we're

voting Biden and Harris. The last four years have been so emotionally disruptive. I have

voted for Lindsey. Sometimes, they're just in office too long. Sometimes, you just need

a change.

GAVIN JACKSON: Losing moderates and center-right Republicans, who helped him win the 2014 primary

and later that election by 17 points, is one critical way Jaime Harrison has a pathway

to victory.

But Graham is still holding on to plenty of Republicans, and enticing others in places

like Anderson, which is part of the ultra-conservative upstate region of South Carolina.

ARTHUR JONES, South Carolina Voter: Six years ago, I probably said I wouldn't have voted

for him, but he's come around to fight for our country. So, I will stand by him.

LINDA COURSEY, South Carolina Voter: I think it's better that he's closer to the president

now, because he stands up for him when all the demon rats in the world are against him.

GAVIN JACKSON: Anderson is also home to longtime Republican activist Susan Aiken, who first

met Graham when he ran and won his first race for the 3rd Congressional District as part

of the Republican revolution of 1994.

SUSAN AIKEN, Chair, South Carolina Republican Party 3rd Congressional District: There's

been times I have not agreed with him, but I'm kind of like Ronald Reagan said. If you

agree with me 80 percent of the time, you are 80 percent my friend, not 20 percent my


GAVIN JACKSON: Jaime Harrison, a former congressional aide, state party chair, lobbyist, and currently

associate chairman with the Democratic National Committee, says Graham's radical shift is

why he got in the race last September.

JAIME HARRISON: I'm about doing the people's work.

GAVIN JACKSON: While South Carolina is growing, and Democrats are energized from the 2018

flip of the 1st Congressional District, home to Charleston and a growing number of new

residents, state Democratic Party chairman Trav Robertson admits the state is far off

from becoming as blue as its neighbors.

TRAV ROBERTSON, Chair, South Carolina Democratic Party: I don't know that we're a purple state.

I think that South Carolina is an independent state that trends Republican because Democrats

have not necessarily run the best of campaigns.

And I think that's one of the things that makes Jaime's campaign so successful, is that

he's actually talking about the values that bind us, instead of the fear that separates


GAVIN JACKSON: And the fund-raising has been successful as well. Harrison's third quarter

$57 million fund-raising hole shattered the Senate record. even Graham broke Senate GOP

records by raising $28 million.

While the TWO continue to saturate airwaves, social media sites and mailboxes, like they

have for months. Harrison's overall fund-raising is on track to total $100 million. The money

has boosted party coffers, funded a wave of resources that will help down-ballot candidates

now and assist in future statewide races, as Democrats look toward the next battle in

their war to shift the state.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Gavin Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Protecting the voting process from outside interference is a high priority

this election season.

In his latest report, Miles O'Brien looks at some of the latest technology being used

in Georgia, and whether it provides a stronger defense against tampering than the traditional

paper ballot.

It's part of our ongoing Leading Edge series on science and innovation.

MILES O'BRIEN: In Georgia, early voting turnout is high, the presidential race is a toss-up,

and both Senate seats are in play. So, naturally, the political world is nervously watching

what voters here will do, while, in the world of computer science, they are tensely tracking

what the voting machines will do.

J. ALEX HALDERMAN, University of Michigan: Georgia is kind of a petri dish.

MILES O'BRIEN: Alex Halderman is a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan.

J. ALEX HALDERMAN: There's a lot more we have to learn about Georgia's election system.

And that's going to help inform how to better secure elections, not just in Georgia in November,

but across the country for years to come.

MILES O'BRIEN: He's among a handful of independent election security experts getting unprecedented

access to the inner workings of the state's $107 million voting system rolled out earlier

this year.

Also taking a deep dive? Election security white hat hacker Harri Hursti.

HARRI HURSTI, Nordic Innovation Labs: They have set up a complicated system, which is

centralized, and doesn't seem to have any safeguards.

MILES O'BRIEN: Georgia's vote-tallying system is a complex assortment of laptops, iPads,

magnetic cards, touchscreens, printers, and scanners, lots of moving parts.

RICK BARRON, Director of Registration and Elections, Fulton County, Georgia: This is

the Poll Pads. On Election Day, it is used to check in voters.

MILES O'BRIEN: Rick Barron is Fulton County's director of registration and elections. He

gave me a demo.

RICK BARRON: It tells whether we issued an absentee-by-mail ballot, whether somebody's

voted early, whether they have voted that absentee ballot, or whether they are still

eligible to vote.

MILES O'BRIEN: Once a voter is deemed eligible, the iPad activates a magnetic card, which

in turn unlocks a so-called ballot marking device, or BMD OK.

This is a pretty complicated way to do something you could do with pen and paper.


MILES O'BRIEN: There are advantages here, right?

RICK BARRON: Yes. The advantages are, it puts a true mark on the screen.

MILES O'BRIEN: When done, the voter prints a ballot. Selections are recorded in human

readable text and in a Q.R. code, which is read and counted by an optical scanner.

Georgia's secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, says this is more accurate than pen and paper.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, Georgia Secretary of State: The problem with pen and paper is, sometimes,

you have your instructions on what you're supposed to do, but you end up with spoiled


Sometimes, people will put an X here, but then they circle this one here, or they will

make different marks on it. What did they really mean there?

MILES O'BRIEN: Still, elections officials tell us they seldom see a hand-marked ballot

where they can't determine voter intent. In 2019, Georgia bought the devices from a Canadian

company called Dominion Voting systems.

They replaced paperless machines like these made by a now defunct company called Diebold

Election Systems. A federal judge forced the state to scrap the discredited devices. Election

security activist Marilyn Marks was part of the lawsuit that triggered the change. But,

for her, ballot-marking devices, now used widely in 14 states, are not the ideal remedy.

MARILYN MARKS, Coalition For Good Governance: We need paper records that are marked by the

voter, with the voter's own hand, where we know that was recorded the way that the voter

wanted it recorded.

MILES O'BRIEN: So, she and the other plaintiffs took aim at the new voting machines. The lawsuit

came into sharp focus after their chaotic debut in the June primary.

The Poll Pads took as long as 30 hours to download the voter database, displayed the

wrong races, and would randomly shut down. And the power-hungry ballot-marking devices

blew circuit-breakers in numerous locations.

Poll workers, many of whom had no hands-on training because of the pandemic, were often

befuddled by the new technology.

RICK BARRON: We have learned a lot of lessons. We're putting technicians in every single

polling place.

We have to make sure that not only do the poll workers know how to use the equipment,

but then these technicians are then going to be relied upon to fix any issues. We want

to just fly under the radar and do our jobs and stay away from the news.


MILES O'BRIEN: But election experts working for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against

the state have uncovered several troubling issues.

Alex Halderman looked closely at the Q.R. codes where the votes are encoded for the


J. ALEX HALDERMAN: By analyzing the structure of the Q.R. codes, I have been able to learn

that there's nothing that stops an attacker from just duplicating one, and the duplicate

would count the same as the original bar code.

MILES O'BRIEN: And in late September, another concern came to light. During testing, election

workers found half the names of the 21 candidates for Senate intermittently disappeared from

screens during the review phase.

Dominion sent out a last-minute software patch.

J. ALEX HALDERMAN: I'm worried that the Georgia system is the technical equivalent to the

737 MAX. They have just made a last-minute software change that might well have unintended

consequences and cause even more severe problems on Election Day.

HARRI HURSTI: You never want to rush something which is mission-critical, and this is mission-critical,

into production without proper time for testing.

That's really one of the ways bad actors are finding the vulnerabilities to exploit is

looking for honest vulnerabilities and finding out if they can be weaponized, if they can

be exploited.

MILES O'BRIEN: Despite all the concerns, federal Judge Amy Totenberg decided to let the election

proceed with the ballot marking device system. The secretary of state says post-election

audits will bring any Q.R. code discrepancies to light.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER: We're in the process of really continuing to expand the capabilities

that we have, so we can audit more of the races. When we do the audit, we actually do

it on the human-readable portion, and not on the Q.R. code.

MILES O'BRIEN: Alex Halderman and his team at Michigan conducted a mock election to see

if voters are likely to catch mistakes on the printouts. Only 7 percent spotted a deliberately

planted error. So, double-check your ballot before you scan.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Miles O'Brien in Atlanta.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Believe it or not, we are a week in a day away from the polls closing

on November 3, and, already, more than 60 million Americans have cast their ballots.

Still, the campaigns are out delivering their closing messages to voters.

Our Politics Monday team is here for analysis of the final sprint, Amy Walter of The Cook

Political Report and host of public radio's "Politics With Amy Walter," and Tamara Keith

of NPR. She also co-hosts the "NPR Politics Podcast."

Hello to both of you.

Only two Mondays to go before Election Day. And as these days dwindle down to a precious

few, Tam, we look even more closely at what the candidates are doing, where they're going.

What do you make of their schedules, their travel, what they're up to right now?

TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: President Trump is going everywhere in the next few


He's in Pennsylvania today, as you had in your piece earlier in the show, but he is

truly going all over the place. He's going to Iowa and Michigan and Wisconsin and Nevada

and Arizona.

And what he is trying to do is mostly defend ground from the last election. You know, President

Trump really narrowly won by creating almost an impossible scenario, and now he has to

defend that.

And, at the same time, Joe Biden is -- he is not doing as many events, certainly, as

President Trump. They have made a calculation they don't want him out as much, in part because

- - in large part, because of the coronavirus.

But there are interesting things happening, like Joe Biden going to Georgia and Kamala

Harris going to Texas.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Amy, as you look at the candidates' itineraries, what do you see?

What does it tell you?

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes, I agree with Tam, in that the Trump campaign's

playing a lot more defense and Biden's on offense.

The fact that -- and I looked at where the president was today in Pennsylvania. These

are in those white working-class kind of areas that he did very well in 2016. But this close

to Election Day, if you are all about just shoring up your base, that's a problem.

This is the part of the campaign where you're getting in your last-minute sale to those

final undecided voters or those handful of swing voters. You should be in those places

right now, not just trying to make sure that the people that already do like you come and

turn out.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Tam, pick up on that.

And the message that we're hearing from the president is pretty much the same message

he's been delivering.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes, I mean, I feel like Amy and I are sort of broken records on this.

But President Trump's theory of the case here is that he's going to find new Republicans,

he is going to find people who support him who didn't vote for him last time and get

them out to vote with his amazing ground game.

They say that, you know, they have this voter turnout operation, 2.5 million volunteers

who made 10 million voter contacts in the last week. And they are going -- really, they

are going with a base plan. That is their plan.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Amy, I mean, I looked at one of the spots the president was at to

visit today in Pennsylvania that you just mentioned, Martinsburg, population, I think,


Can he make up in the rural parts of the state the Biden advantage in the urban? I mean,

how do you see that?


That's kind of his plan, right, which is not necessarily to win back some of those -- he's

not there trying to win back some of those suburban voters in and around Philadelphia,

but, instead, is going back to the small towns, rural areas that turned out in droves.

But, remember, Judy, even though they turned out at record numbers, totally, for many,

unexpected numbers, he -- that only got him less than a percentage point victory in 2016.

And what we have been hearing pretty consistently in places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,

Michigan is that the president is not only losing by bigger margins in the suburban areas,

but he's not doing as well as he did in 2016 with older voters, seniors, independent voters.

Those are the voters that are going to determine this election.

Now, look, the president does have a very good track record of, at the end of a campaign,

coming in and firing his base up and ensuring that, at the very least, the floor does not

drop out from under him. But in order to win these states, he has got to be able to make

up some ground where Joe Biden has taken some of those votes away from 2016.

And here's the other thing. Joe Biden has been going, actually, not just to the suburban

areas, but he's also been up around the areas where Hillary Clinton underperformed the Obama

number. And so he's trying to not just run up the score in the suburbs, but to at least

lessen the margin by which he loses in some of these whiter working-class areas.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Tam, meantime, the vice president has been hit, his staff -- five

members of the staff have been hit with the coronavirus.

He's still out on the trail. The doctors say he's testing negative, he's an essential worker,

but does this send a good political message for him?

TAMARA KEITH: Well, I mean, it certainly proves how essential they believe it is to have him

out there campaigning, because, you're right, he -- his chief of staff has tested positive

for coronavirus. He's what's considered a close contact, and yet Vice President Pence

is out there.

We did see him campaigning in Minnesota. He wore a mask as he got off Air Force Two, which

he hasn't been doing in the past as often. So, he is making some changes, because the

CDC guidelines say, if you're returning to work as an essential working, you need to

wear a mask at all times.

You know, in terms of the message this sends, this is part of the big divide in this campaign.

Kamala Harris took several days off the trail when people who weren't even considered close

contacts, but had flown on her campaign plane, tested positive.

The Biden campaign has made a calculation that taking coronavirus very seriously is

part of how he's going to win this race. The Trump campaign and President Trump and the

vice president have made the calculation that saying that America is turning the corner,

saying it's going to get better, it is getting better, don't worry about the numbers -- the

president has started saying, cases, cases, cases, in the way he used to say Russia, Russia,


Their calculation is sort of to ignore the coronavirus, pretend it isn't there, and talk

about the economy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy, in the time...

AMY WALTER: You know...

JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead, Amy, yes.


Well, Judy, a while back, a Republican strategist gave me a very good line that I use often

at moments like this. And he said, you can't win on turnout if you're losing on message.

And the president is trying to boost turnout.

But the message on the coronavirus is not where the rest of the country is. A lot of

Republicans do believe the corner's been turned, do not think it's serious, but the majority

of Americans are still worried about getting the coronavirus, and they disapprove of the

job that the president is doing on the issue.

So, the fact that this is front and center in the last week of the campaign is not a

great thing for this president.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Little bit of time we have left, Amy, I just want to ask you about one

thing the president is reported to have said this week to a group of donors.

He said he thinks the Republicans are going to retake the House of Representatives, although

he's less sure about the Senate. What about that?



AMY WALTER: In fact, it's more likely than not that not only do the Democrats keep the

House, but they could increase their numbers by more than 10 seats.

And where Republicans continue to lose seats are in the suburbs in places like Texas, Indiana,

in and around sort of midsized cities like Saint Louis and Cincinnati. So, the House

is not in play this year. And, in fact, Democrats are likely to increase their numbers there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Reality check all the way around.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, last seven days to go.

Thank you both.

AMY WALTER: You're welcome.

TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And thanking them.

And with that, we say, that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff.

Join us online and again here tomorrow evening.

For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.