October 27, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
October 27, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
JUDY WOODRUFF: On the "NewsHour" tonight: the final week. The candidates make their
last pitches to voters in crucial swing states, as Election Day draws ever closer.
Then: a surge in early voting. The pandemic and other election concerns prompt a historic
influx of ballots cast before November 3.
Plus: outrage. Yet another police killing of a Black man prompts widespread protests
and renewed calls for reform.
ISAIAH THOMAS, Philadelphia City Councilman: Like so many Philadelphians, it was hard to
wake up this morning after seeing so many graphic images of what took place in our city
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: This has been a long day on the campaign trail, with rally after rally
for President Trump, former Vice President Biden and their running mates.
They are now in an all-out drive to the finish line next Tuesday.
White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: One week to go, and in the run-up to election night, both candidates
are crisscrossing the swing states.
Today, Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Georgia. It's a bid
to flip a state which hasn't voted blue in a presidential race since 1992.
JOE BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate: We will act on the first day of my presidency
to get COVID under control. We will act to pass an economic plan that will finally reward
work, not wealth, in this country. We will act to pass my health care plan to provide
affordable, accessible health care.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: While his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, visited Nevada.
BARACK OBAMA, Former President of the United States: Hello, Orlando!
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: And former President Barack Obama, while campaigning in Florida, said
the Trump administration is incompetent and pointed to its lack of response to the coronavirus
BARACK OBAMA: His chief of staff on a news program says: We're not going to control the
He just said this. Yes, he did. And, yes, we noticed you're not going to control the
pandemic. Listen, winter is coming. They're waving the white flag of surrender.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Meanwhile, President Trump made a sweep around the Midwest, hitting Michigan,
Wisconsin, and Nebraska. He won all of them in 2016, but is struggling to repeat that 0:04:08.040,1193:02:47.295 in 2020, according to polls.
He accused the media of focusing too much on the virus.
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID,
COVID, COVID, COVID. Well, we have a spike in cases.
You ever notice, they don't use the word death? They use the word cases.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Vice President Mike Pence continued to campaign throughout North and
South Carolina. That comes despite the recent COVID outbreak among at least five of his
MIKE PENCE, Vice President of the United States: We're going to make this state and nation
stronger than before. We're going to make North Carolina and America more prosperous
than ever before. We're going to make North Carolina and America more united than ever
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Democrats on Capitol Hill are fuming over last night's confirmation
of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): In contradiction to its stated principles, this Republican
majority confirmed a lifetime appointment on the eve of an election, a justice who will
alter the lives and the freedoms of the American people while they stood in line to vote.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But Republicans celebrated their conservative nominee's confirmation.
They dismissed Democratic outrage as unfair.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It's a national crisis when a Republican president makes a
nominee for the Supreme Court. Catastrophe looms right around the corner. The country
will be fundamentally changed forever.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The High Court is also at the center of another election-related dispute.
Last night, justices ruled 5-3 that Wisconsin may not accept ballots that arrive after polls
close on Election Day. That's a rejection of an appeal by the Democratic Party.
It came as President Trump continued his attacks on election integrity. He tweeted a false
claim, saying -- quote -- "Big problems and discrepancies with mail-in ballots all over
the USA. Must have final total on November 3."
Twitter put a warning label on the tweet for misinformation. In fact, official results
have never been completely counted and certified by election night. And changes to voting rules
amid the pandemic mean results may take longer to calculate.
In Texas, where voters are already lining up at polling locations at record numbers,
some voters feel early in-person voting is safest.
DANIEL BRUNMHOELZL, Texas Voter: I certainly feel better just doing it in person. The mail-in
ballots, I have heard stories nationally, and so I just felt better doing it in person.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Democratic Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia of Texas says that sense of
insecurity about the vote is not just from the pandemic, but also from Republican-led
lawsuits in her state and other states like Wisconsin to limit the vote.
REP. SYLVIA GARCIA (D-TX): There's just been an incredible amount of effort being put this
election cycle to put fear in people's minds. It just seems like they are doing more and
more to create obstacles, to create barriers, to intimidate voters from voting.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Seven days until Election Day, with an electorate getting a historic
jump-start, but a little jumpy about how it will all turn out.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As you're hearing, the country is seeing record turnout in early voting,
and also some late legal challenges to when and if all those votes get counted.
William Brangham has more on what this means come election night and beyond.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That's right, Judy.
Almost 70 million people have already cast their ballots in this election. This massive
turnout includes a combination of mail-in ballots and people going to vote in person.
So, with Election Day just a week away, we dive into what these numbers say about the
electorate with Michael McDonald. He is a professor of political science at the University
of Florida, and he runs the United States Election Project, which has been tracking
the vote so far.
Professor McDonald, great to have you on the "NewsHour."
So, you have been tracking this really unprecedented turnout of early voting. What can you tell
us about what the trends are showing?
MICHAEL MCDONALD, University of Florida: Well, we have seen more people vote in this election
than any prior election that we have had in the history of the country. So, we're at record
In some states, we're pushing near 100 percent of the turnout that occurred in the 2016 election
in its entirety, not just its early vote.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Wow.
MICHAEL MCDONALD: So, we're in...
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, that's a combination of all people who have voted have now been
surpassed by the people who voted early?
MICHAEL MCDONALD: Yes, we're getting very close to those numbers in some states, like
Texas and Hawaii.
And others are following right on their heels. So what this means in one part is that we're
looking at a very high-turnout election. Perhaps 150 million people or so will vote, and that
could be the highest turnout that we will see in a modern election since 1908, so truly
remarkable numbers in terms of the people voting.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And certainly a wonderful thing just for our democracy in general.
Are you able to discern what this huge turnout means for either party? Do we know who's actually
MICHAEL MCDONALD: Yes, there's some good evidence to say that, by and large, it's Democrats
that are voting early.
And that's actually very similar to what we have seen in prior elections as well. Usually,
more Democrats vote early. But the way in which they do it is different.
In prior elections, Democrats have voted predominantly in person early, and that's how they pile
up their early voting numbers. This time around, what we're seeing Democrats are voting by
mail early. And, as they have hollowed out all those in person early voters, we're actually
seeing Republicans doing quite well in the in person early vote in many states.
But, overall, the electorate is still very heavily Democratic in the early vote. And
that's what we have seen in prior elections as well. Election Day tends to be very Republican.
So, you have to wait for the whole election to get through. You have to get the Election
Day vote, which will offset that early vote to some degree.
And how much it does, that will tell us who will win the election.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And do those Democratic-leaning early voters, also, are they using voting
by mail as well? We have certainly seen a lot of controversy around voting by mail.
The president has been basically saying that it's riddled with fraud.
Is it largely Democrats using that technology this time around?
MICHAEL MCDONALD: Yes, absolutely.
Usually, it's Republicans who vote by mail in most states. Now, I'm not talking about
the all-mail-ballot states, because, obviously, every voter gets a mail ballot in those states.
What I'm talking about are states where there's multiple methods of voting. And when you do
have that, you do see Republicans tend to use mail ballots more frequently than Democrats.
This election, it's all topsy-turvy. We're seeing Democrats vote by mail, instead of
voting in person. And we're seeing Republicans voting in person, instead of voting by mail.
We had over 80 million mail ballot requests that were going to be honored by election
And we knew that the party registration of those voters tended to break heavily towards
the Democrats. So, we knew that Democrats were going to have lots of mail ballots. What
we haven't quite expected to see is not only have Democrats been voting mail ballots at
higher levels, but they're also returning those ballots at a higher rate than Republicans.
That's another surprise that we're seeing in this election. Usually, it's Republicans
who are returning those mail ballots at a higher rate than Democrats.
Now, I can't really tell everything that is going on here, but it could be very well that
some Republicans have gotten cold feet, and even though they requested a mail ballot,
they're planning to vote in person, maybe in person early or in person on Election Day.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On this question of counting those mail-in ballots, we have seen the Supreme
Court come down with two rulings with regards to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin about when late
arriving mail-in ballots can be counted.
With those rulings and with others that are pending, what is your sense of what that means
for Election Day, and when we might know who's won this election?
MICHAEL MCDONALD: Well, it's important to understand that election officials never count
all the ballots on election night.
There's always some ballots that need to be checked over after the election. And there's
a certification period that takes place in the weeks after the election, where those
ballots are counted.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And that's totally normal.
MICHAEL MCDONALD: That's completely normal.
But, in this election, we have got all these mail ballots, and it could be that those ballots
would be coming back to election offices and overwhelming them if they came back right
at the very end.
But people have voted earlier. That's good news. And some states, the states are actually
preparing those ballots for counting. There are some states, like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania
and Michigan, where the election officials are constrained in how they can count those
So, we know, in those states, it's going to take them longer to count the ballots, simply
because they're not able to start that preparatory work yet. But, in other states, we should
get some very fast results.
A state like myself, in Florida, we should get those -- 99 percent of those ballots counted
on election night. And we should have a good idea who won Florida. But, in some other states,
it may take a little bit more while for the election officials to count all the ballots.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, obviously, then sort of recalibrates all of our expectations about
when we know final results.
Professor Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, thank you so much for being here.
MICHAEL MCDONALD: Good to be with you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: Amy Coney Barrett was formally sworn in as the
newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath in private, a day after Barrett's Senate
confirmation. Her first opinions could involve disputes over absentee ballot rules in key
voting states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
More state and local governments took actions today to corral COVID-19 infections, now averaging
more than 70,000 new cases daily nationwide. Newark, New Jersey imposed new restrictions
on nonessential businesses. And the governor of Illinois banned indoor dining in Chicago,
effective this Friday.
We will talk to the mayor of Chicago, who thinks that may be going too far, later in
Firefighters in Southern California are making scant progress so far against windblown wildfires
that have forced thousands of people from their homes. Two fires burned dangerously
close to subdivisions along the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains today.
Governor Gavin Newsom said conditions were unprecedented.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): This time is typical the Diablo and the Santa Ana winds tend to
present themselves, but we have seen some really extraordinary wind events in the last
48 hours. Those of you down in Orange County know well the extraordinary gusts that you're
experiencing, and just the ongoing winds, but 88 miles per hour was recorded.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The utility company Southern California Edison says that its equipment
may have sparked one of the fires.
New Orleans is now under a hurricane warning, awaiting the storm dubbed Zeta. It blew across
Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula last night and lost some of its punch. There were no reports
of major damage. Forecasts call for the storm to strengthen again and possibly make landfall
tomorrow night along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts.
The city of Philadelphia is on edge tonight after police shot and killed a Black man on
Monday, sparking protests. Officers say they opened fire when Walter Wallace refused to
put down a knife and moved toward them. His family says the 27-year-old had mental health
We will return to this right after the news summary.
In Pakistan, a powerful bomb blast tore through an Islamic seminary in Peshawar today, killing
eight people and wounding nearly 140. In the aftermath, ambulances rushed to get survivors
Other students waited outside, and some said they get no protection.
ZAHID KHAN, Student (through translator): We were attending the class. Our teacher was
giving us a lecture. Then, suddenly, a big blast took place. I have this complaint with
the government that we don't have any proper security arrangements here. Every morning,
we have to guard here at the gate for our own security.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There was immediate no claim of responsibility, but the Pakistani Taliban
condemned the attack.
Back in this country, a federal judge today denied President Trump's plea to be removed
as the defendant in a defamation case. The suit was brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll,
after Mr. Trump denied allegations he raped her in the 1990s. The judge rejected the claim
that, as a federal employee, the president is not subject to such legal actions.
And on Wall Street, stocks mostly sagged again on worries about COVID-19. The Dow Jones industrial
average lost 222 points to close at 27463. The Nasdaq rose 72 points, but the S&P 500
Still to come on the "NewsHour": yet another police killing of a Black man prompts widespread
protests and renewed calls for reform; we discuss the stalled effort to bring COVID
relief to struggling Americans with the White House domestic policy adviser; the mayor of
Chicago on how the city is handling the alarming rising COVID cases; plus, much more.
The fatal shooting of a Black man by police in
Philadelphia Monday afternoon triggered large protests overnight.
As John Yang reports, it is the latest police killing in this country in recent months to
provoke strong public outrage.
JOHN YANG: Violent protests broke out overnight in Philadelphia, with more than 30 officers
WOMAN: Oh, he hit a cop. Oh, my God, he hit a cop. He hit a cop.
JOHN YANG: More than a dozen people arrested, cars set aflame...
MAN: I was on my way home. This is in the middle 52nd Street.
JOHN YANG: ... and stores looted.
Philadelphia City Councilman Isaiah Thomas:
ISAIAH THOMAS, Philadelphia City Councilman: Like so many Philadelphians, it was hard to
wake up this morning after seeing so many graphic images of what took place in our city
We see these incidents. We recognize our city has a lot of problems.
JOHN YANG: The spark? A killing Monday of a 27-year-old Black man named Walter Wallace
Jr. captured on video.
Just before 4:00 p.m., two officers responded to a report of a man with a knife in a predominantly
Black neighborhood in West Philadelphia. As Wallace approached the officers, they opened
MAN: Oh! Oh! Oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Oh, my God.
JOHN YANG: He was rushed to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died.
Philadelphia Police Sergeant Eric Gripp described what happened.
SGT. ERIC GRIPP, Philadelphia Police Department: The male continued to follow after the officers
while brandishing the weapon. The officers ordered him to drop it several more times.
Unfortunately, he did not. And the officers discharged their weapon several times, striking
JOHN YANG: Wallace's father said his son suffered from mental health issues and was on medication.
Questions immediately swirled about why officers hadn't used a Taser to subdue him and why
they fired so many rounds. The officers were wearing body cameras. Their names haven't
been disclosed, but they have been removed from street duty.
In a statement, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said: "I recognize that the
video of the incident raises many questions. Residents have my assurance that those questions
will be fully addressed by the investigation."
This afternoon, a lawyer for Wallace's family spoke to reporters.
SHAKA JOHNSON, Attorney for Family of Walter Wallace: That was an unjustified shooting.
I think you saw it as well. We all saw it. It was an unjustified shooting.
We have a person who has mental health issues. We're going to vet those out as the process
continues. But we have officers who I think are not properly trained to deal with those
mental health issues.
PROTESTERS: Shut it down!
JOHN YANG: The video of Wallace's shooting led to protests that turned violent late last
night and to vandalism and looting in areas already hit-hard after the death of George
Floyd earlier this year.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.
JUDY WOODRUFF: With a week to go before the election, COVID cases are rising, and economic
stimulus talks in Washington appear to have stalled.
Let's bring in Brooke Rollins. She is the acting director of the White House Domestic
Policy Council. And she joins us now.
Welcome to the "NewsHour."
Brooke Rollins, so we know that the president has been saying for months he wants a COVID
relief package. He sent Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to negotiate. Then, at the beginning
of October, the president said, no, the talks are off. Then he turned around and said, no,
they're back on, with certain conditions.
Then we heard from the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that there shouldn't be any
agreement until after the election. So, is this still a priority for the president?
BROOKE ROLLINS, Acting Director, Domestic Policy Council: Well, I think there's no doubt,
Judy -- thank you for having me, by the way.
I think there's no doubt. I'm not sure there's anyone in America who wants a deal, a stimulus
package deal, more than President Trump. He has been hyperfocused on trying make sure
that Americans have what they need to get through this pandemic.
What I will say, also -- and you're right - - it's kind of gone back and forth -- but
that, ultimately, we have come back to the table and back to the table. And I think we
have come up a few times. And I'm not sure that the House has been willing, that Speaker
Pelosi has been willing to be as flexible and as willing to negotiate as we have.
But, once the election has passed, I think all the parties will come back to the table.
And I really, sincerely believe that we will have a deal that will benefit Americans, all
Americans, but especially those who need it the most.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we have also heard there has been resistance.
I mean, Speaker -- Majority Leader McConnell himself has said that there's resistance from
a number of Republican senators.
My question is, why hasn't the president used his clout, his leverage with Republicans senators
to get them to agree to something?
BROOKE ROLLINS: Well, I think his focus has been on, what is the best deal for the American
And I think he has said publicly -- I'm not saying anything to get out in front of him
- - that the idea of sending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out states and cities that
have been poorly run just isn't fair to the American taxpayer.
And so I think that the Republicans in the Senate, not to put words in their mouth, but
I think that's a big part of the concern, is how big the number is. There's $300 billion
left unspent from the last deal.
So, how can we come together and ensure that this really is the best deal for the American
JUDY WOODRUFF: I'm asking because, as you know, the need is great in many of these cities.
We're -- I'm also asking because I'm about to interview, after I speak with you, the
mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot.
BROOKE ROLLINS: Sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: They are in terrible economic straits, and a number of other cities around
the country, in both red states and blue states.
So, the question is, why hasn't there been more of a push from the White House?
BROOKE ROLLINS: Well, I think there has been a significant push.
I think maybe we have a different definition of what a push could look like. But we have
tried and tried and tried. And keep in mind, the Democrats have not been willing to move
one inch on the number. So, I think that saying that we haven't tried hard enough is not necessarily
But I think we will continue to move forward. I think mayors in this country, like Mayor
Lightfoot and others, coming to the table and letting us know what is important will
certainly be part of that conversation.
But I think, too, we have to realize what's best for the American people and talk about
the people in distress. The people who are being hurt the most by this lockdown and this
pandemic are those in our most distressed communities, are those in our forgotten communities.
And we have to continue to build not only with the stimulus relief talks and a package,
but continue to build the infrastructure for the economy to continue to build itself back
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me...
BROOKE ROLLINS: ... and for the jobs to be there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me.
Let me also ask you about a health care plan.
BROOKE ROLLINS: Sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president has been saying since he was elected that he will present
a health care plan to the American people.
We're now almost four years later. There still isn't one. Why not?
BROOKE ROLLINS: Judy, that's actually not - - that's not true.
He rolled out his Great American Health Care plan on September 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
It is on the White House Web site. It talks and walks through lower costs, better care,
more choice for all Americans and how he will do that, expanding health savings accounts,
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it hasn't been presented to the Congress in the form of a formal proposal.
BROOKE ROLLINS: Well -- well, what his plan is what he's presenting to the American people.
He's tried to move things through the Congress. Of course, with the stalemate, it hasn't been
possible. But, also, in the last three-and-a-half years, he's been able to do much through executive
order, whether it's price transparency, affordable health care plans.
Keep in mind, Judy, that Medicare costs and premiums have come down, on average, 35 percent
under this president, in some parts of the country, more than 50 percent.
We have expanded choice to 2,200 plans under Medicaid, 80 percent in choice. The health
care system, and where we are today, because of the last three-and-a-half years, is in
much better shape than what it was what was handed to us three-and-a-half years ago.
We will continue to build on that for all Americans, but especially those with preexisting
conditions, which this president has been unequivocal about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and that's -- well, that's - - and that's an issue of great disagreement,
because there have -- Republicans have not been united on preserving preexisting conditions.
And, right now, the Supreme Court may be on the verge of knocking out Obamacare altogether.
You're leaving tens of millions of Americans without coverage.
And my question is, what -- where's the safety net? What's going to protect those Americans,
if that happens?
BROOKE ROLLINS: Well, thank you for bringing up Obamacare. I would love to talk about that.
So, first of all, the exaltation of Obamacare just doesn't make any sense. So, this idea
that the Affordable Care Act, that Obamacare is providing everyone with preexisting conditions
the most amazing care just isn't true.
So, I will say this. The Affordable Care Act is up at the U.S. Supreme Court next week
for argument. The decision will come down probably middle of next year.
In the meantime, the president has already improved the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare,
the exchanges. Premiums are down 8 percent, after having gone up 35 percent under President
Obama. And there's a lot more choice.
So, we will continue to improve what the system currently is. If it is rightly struck down,
which this president has been -- getting to your question...
JUDY WOODRUFF: That's the question, if it's struck down.
BROOKE ROLLINS: If it is struck down, if the president, who rightly has called for it being
moved off and something better put in place, Judy, there's $1.8 trillion currently set
aside for the next 10 years to subsidize through the insurance exchanges, et cetera.
That $1.8 trillion under this president will be redeployed to the millions of Americans
who are on the Affordable Care Act, less than 10 percent of our population, but, nevertheless,
millions of Americans. And that money will go directly to them, rather than to the special
interests, to the insurance companies that have caused the prices to go so far up.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Brooke Rollins, acting director of the White House Domestic Policy Council,
thank you very much.
BROOKE ROLLINS: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest COVID-19 outbreak has returned to places like Chicago, which
had been hit hard by the virus earlier this year.
Also taking a hit, state and local budgets. And with stimulus talks in Washington stalled,
many mayors are on their own in this trying time.
Lori Lightfoot is the mayor of Chicago. And she joins us now.
Welcome back to the "NewsHour."
Mayor Lightfoot, we heard Governor Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, say yesterday that
a COVID storm is coming. What does the situation look like right now in Chicago?
LORI LIGHTFOOT, Mayor of Chicago, Illinois: Well, it is of great concern.
We're seeing the rate of new cases really escalate in the same way that we saw them
back in the spring. We are seeing a slight uptick in hospitalizations, not ICU beds yet,
thankfully. But we're very concerned.
We announced some steps and measures last week to step back some of the measures that
we had put in place in slightly opening up our economy. But we're very concerned about
the second surge.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And Governor Pritzker saying that he is going to impose restrictions again.
They will be starting on Friday on indoor dining. What other restrictions are you looking
LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, there's a number of restrictions, and we're very concerned about
Our restaurant industry, our bars, our gyms, indoor spaces, if the governor's order goes
into effect, it's really effectively shutting down a significant portion of our economy,
at a time when those same businesses are really hanging on by a thread.
So, we're going to continue our engagement of the governor, of his team. But if it's
not looking good. And if we can't convince him that other metrics should apply, then
the shutdown, unfortunately, is going to take effect starting Friday, by state order.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it sounds like you think it's the wrong decision to do this.
LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, I think that we have got to look at what our metrics are.
No question we're seeing an uptick in cases. We're also seeing percent positivity go up.
But hospitalizations are not at the breaking point, like they -- we feared back in the
spring. And I think that's an important metric that needs to have some really significant
And, also, we have got to be very surgical in the way that we impose these new restrictions.
The truth is that where we're seeing the greatest challenges is in people's homes, in social
setting that are not public.
That's harder to regulate, to be sure, but that's, at least in Chicago, where we're seeing
the challenges. Two-thirds of the people that are testing positive and are talking to our
case investigators are telling us that they got it from somebody that they knew, and that
they got it in a home or other social setting that's not in public.
So, we're taking additional steps to really address those circumstances where we're seeing
the cases increase. So, I'm not sure that we're reaching the right people with the restrictions
that are going to be imposed by the state. And that's my concern.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It was just in the last few days that you announced, what, a $1.2 billion
shortfall in the Chicago city budget.
You called for increases in property taxes, cutting the number of city workers. Just how
much of a financial strain, crisis are you facing?
LORI LIGHTFOOT: It's significant.
We have an $800 million shortfall in our 2020 budget, where we would have been on track
to meet -- to beat our budgeted expectations. And 100 percent of that 2020 shortfall is
We have a $1.2 billion budget deficit for next year, 2021, and 65 percent of that shortfall
is COVID-related. That's why it's so distressing that the federal government has failed to
recognize not just the plight of a city like Chicago, but cities and towns all over the
country, red, blue, purple, independent, Democrat, Republican.
This is a virus that doesn't respect political boundaries or geographic boundaries. And we
need a bipartisan solution for this bipartisan problem. So, we're going to keep pushing every
lever that we can think of, but, for now, we're not getting additional help from the
So, our pandemic budget, which is what we're talking about it as, really relies upon us
in Chicago making the tough, hard choices that are going to be necessary to balance
our budget, as we are mandated to do by law.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A little bit earlier, I spoke with the head of the White House Domestic
Policy Council. Brooke Rollins is her name, acting director.
And she said -- because I was asking her why it's taken so long to reach an agreement.
She said the president is pushing as hard as he can. And she said, we want you, Mayor
Lightfoot, and other mayors to be at the table. But she also said, we have to realize what's
best for the American people, talk about people in distress and distressed and forgotten communities.
What does that say to you?
LORI LIGHTFOOT: To me, that's just a bunch of rhetoric.
From the very beginning of this pandemic, myself and other mayors have reached out to
the president, to the vice president. We have asked them repeatedly to make sure that mayors,
a bipartisan group and geographically diverse group of mayors, had a role to play in the
national response, so that they could hear it from the grassroots level.
They have ignored us at every turn. And they have, frankly, turned their IGA function into
a politicized bunch of hacks who attack Democratic mayors. They started attacking with Muriel
Bowser. Then they came to me, then Jenny Durkan, then Keisha Lance Bottoms.
They have zero interest in actually forging real, concrete relationships with mayors across
this country. It's a total missed opportunity. And we have known from a very long time that
we are going to have to fight this fight without meaningful support from the White House and
the executive branch.
But it's a real shame. And, unfortunately, I think lives have been lost because of not
only the mismanagement from the White House, but the absolute unwillingness to fully engage
and make sure that they're listening to local leaders, so that we can forge solutions that
save people's lives, that educate them, and keep them safe
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are going to have to leave it there.
But, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, we certainly wish you the best with all you're dealing with.
Thank you very much.
LORI LIGHTFOOT: Thank you, Judy. Appreciate you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There are more women running for Congress than ever before, shattering
even the records set in 2018.
This time, it's driven in part by record numbers of Republican women on the ballot.
Lisa Desjardins has our report on what the GOP has done and why they still need -- what
they still need to do to close the wide gender gap in the House.
LISA DESJARDINS: This could be the face of change in the Republican Party.
NANCY MACE (R), South Carolina Congressional Candidate: Let's bump some elbows. How you
MAN: Hey, good to see you.
LISA DESJARDINS: Nancy Mace is running to be the first South Carolina woman ever in
Congress, and part of what some hope is a gender shift for Republicans.
Both parties have gender gaps. In the House of Representatives, 88 Democrats, or 38 percent,
are women. But it is a chasm for House Republicans, with just 13 women, a tiny 7 percent of their
ranks right now.
NANCY MACE: Thank you. I appreciate it.
LISA DESJARDINS: Enter Mace and a new class of candidates. She's a single mom who represents
the Low Country near Charleston in the Statehouse now, and who broke barriers early in life
as the first woman to graduate from South Carolina's military institution, the Citadel.
NANCY MACE: It's not just Democrat women that are breaking barriers or breaking glass ceilings.
LISA DESJARDINS: Mace means this. A record 94 Republican women are on the ballot for
the House of Representatives this year, nearly double the number two years ago.
Then, a wave of new Democratic women entered the House and got Republicans' attention.
On 2018, it sounds like -- was that kind of a call to action?
REP. SUSAN BROOKS (R-IN): I really do believe it was. We lost some amazing incumbent women.
And my colleagues, we all really did look and say, well, what can we do differently
LISA DESJARDINS: Indiana Republican Congresswoman Susan Brooks, who will retire this year, headed
up the recruitment of female candidates this cycle.
A frequent concern she hears, is Congress worth the effort?
REP. SUSAN BROOKS: Because they very much all across the board want to make a difference.
They don't want to waste their time. They want to know that what they're going to be
doing is really making a difference.
LISA DESJARDINS: This during renewed attention on and excitement for conservative women.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Good morning. Welcome, Judge.
LISA DESJARDINS: With the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: This hearing to me is an opportunity to not punch through a glass
ceiling, but a reinforced concrete barrier around conservative women. You're going to
shatter that barrier.
LISA DESJARDINS: But that energy hasn't yet translated to more seats in congress. Party
leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have been asked:
QUESTION: Why do you think the gender gap is wider now than it has been previously?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, it's an interesting question, and something I'm not
happy with, and I hope we can improve in the coming weeks and years.
LISA DESJARDINS: Brooks also says she's unsure, but points to money.
REP. SUSAN BROOKS: I do know, historically, the women candidates have had a harder time
fund-raising. And so we haven't had the ability to break through our primaries.
LISA DESJARDINS: There's also a leadership gap. House Republicans have just one woman
in leadership, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, and just two are the highest ranking on their
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said gender shouldn't be a factor for Cheney or anyone
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): She's not defined by being in my conference because she's a
woman. She's defined by being in my conference because she got elected because she's the
best person for the job.
LISA DESJARDINS: That creates a tricky situation for Republican women.
Julie Conway created and runs VIEW PAC, a group focused on electing more GOP women.
JULIE CONWAY, Executive Director, VIEW PAC: Historically, Republican women have had a
bit of a challenge, because gender politics, identity politics on the Republican side wasn't
really taken too seriously.
It was always the concept that the best candidate will emerge from a primary, and that person
will be our candidate in the general. And, unfortunately, there is not a level playing
field in terms of electing Republican women and Republican men.
LISA DESJARDINS: Even in this record group of candidates, you can see that. Of the 94
Republican women running this year, 11 are in Congress now and just 14 others are seen
as having a chance to win.
NANCY MACE: I'm Nancy Mace. I learned my Low Country values...
LISA DESJARDINS: That includes Mace in a high-dollar race with freshman Democrat Joe Cunningham,
who has touted an environmental record for the coast. She's blunt about the system overall.
Do you think that politics is still a boys club?
NANCY MACE: Oh, absolutely, 100 percent.
LISA DESJARDINS: And she sees the ballot as one piece of the puzzle.
NANCY MACE: Being in elected office is not enough. We have to have our voices heard.
LISA DESJARDINS: For Republican women, a push to be heard and to be a larger force at the
table in Washington.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Made in China, it's a phrase that has become an almost daily reminder of
the global economic challenge facing the U.S.
In the pandemic, one thing has become clear. The world's reliance on personal protective
equipment, or PPE.
As correspondent Patrick Fok reports, a great deal of this much needed gear, from masks
to goggles, comes from China, and the country where the virus originated now produces much
of what is needed to fight it off.
PATRICK FOK: It may only be manned by a small number of workers, but this PPE production
plant in Chongqing, Southern China, churns out half-a-million disposable masks every
Masks are by far the most sought-after type of PPE, and these commonly seen blue ones
are number-one sellers.
PAUL WANG, Founder & CEO, LyncMed: They're flat. The typical three-layers surgical masks,
that will be the most popular one, this one.
PATRICK FOK: Paul Wang is CEO and founder of LyncMed. It's a major global distributor
of medical gear, including PPE.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, even
before the coronavirus pandemic began, China was the largest exporter of PPE, accounting
for nearly half the world's supply of face masks, gowns and goggles.
Its share of the market's grown even larger since. Wang says his company's sales volumes
are 10 times higher than a year ago. And after a slight lull over summer, as the virus subsided
in many places, orders are now coming back with ominous strength.
PAUL WANG: Beginning of September, and we already saw the early -- early indicator of
the second wave is picking up, because now the weather is coming -- cooling down.
PATRICK FOK: At the height of China's battle with the coronavirus in March, LyncMed, like
many other overseas distributors of PPE, called back inventories from warehouses around the
Much of it was diverted to front-liners fighting the virus in Hubei province and the virus
But domestic demand for PPE has slowed steadily since March, as China has gotten its outbreak
under control. LyncMed has shifted its focus back towards buyers elsewhere, including the
U.S., which, like many other countries, continues to grapple with shortages.
A global backlash against China over the COVID-19 pandemic has led to accusations that Chinese
authorities hid the severity of the outbreak so that it could get a head-start on stocking
up on the medical supplies it needed to respond to the crisis.
And there are fears China might restrict the distribution of gear to countries that have
criticized its handling of the disease.
Joe Mazur is an analyst at the intelligence group Trivium China.
JOE MAZUR, Trivium China: But, in reality, we haven't seen a lot of that. China has,
in general, been pretty liberal about exporting its PPE once its own domestic needs have been
And I think that's for a couple of reasons. One is because the Chinese government sees
the export of PPE as a big public relations coup.
PATRICK FOK: Reports say exports of virus-related goods, including PPE, helped offset a drop
in other products shipped to the U.S. as a result of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.
Total exports were down only slightly in the first eight months of the year, compared to
the last, according to official Chinese data. Health care officials say the shortage of
PPE in the U.S., by contrast, is likely to persist, in the absence of a strategy to address
TINGLONG DAI, Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School: It's as important as having
a local fire station in your town or in your city.
PATRICK FOK: Tinglong Dai is an associate professor specializing in health care ecosystems
at the John Hopkins University Carey School Of Business.
He's been researching the critical need for the U.S. to reshore PPE production.
TINGLONG DAI: Just imagine you have a fire, and you don't have a truck a few miles from
you, and you have to rely on a truck from a nearby state. You cannot deal with the fire.
By the time the fire trucks arrive, your house has already burned down.
PATRICK FOK: Both President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden have championed
bringing back production to the U.S. Dai says it needs to be a long-term commitment.
TINGLONG DAI: We need engineers, managers, quality controllers, and technicians, and
workers. When we need them, we cannot just train them within a few weeks. It takes years
to get the right people, to get the right machines.
PATRICK FOK: China was able to ramp up production when it needed because of a plan it previously
laid out to be self-sufficient in key industries by 2025.
State support saw nearly 70,000 companies register to either trade or manufacture face
masks this year. But reports also suggest that may have led to quality control problems.
Health officials in the U.S. and many other parts of the world criticized China over faulty
equipment and substandard masks. Shipments have been pulled.
JOE MAZUR: There has been a big spike in demand for this product, and China has the means
to produce it.
And so what that does is, that attracts a lot of people looking to capitalize on that
disparity. And, unfortunately, some of them are bad actors who are producing subpar equipment.
PATRICK FOK: Chinese regulators have tightened quality control over medical supplies. But
that hasn't stemmed the problem entirely.
LyncMed's made serious efforts to ensure the goods it distributes comply with health standards
at home and abroad. It's had to brush aside some of the negative attention to Chinese-made
PAUL WANG: This is part of life. This is part of the politics. So people finger-point at
each other for different reasons.
I just accept it. This is the nature. And I still and my whole team feels very proud
of it, what we are doing, and we are saving lives.
PATRICK FOK: And as long as the pandemic continues, people across the world are likely to depend
on China to supply the equipment needed to keep them safe.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Patrick Fok in Beijing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we take a very different look at the pandemic and how the arts are
trying to weather the economic storm.
From January to June of this from January to June of this year, consumer spending on
the performing arts fell from almost $27 billion to just $817 million.
Now a pilot program in Massachusetts looks to ideas from the past to hopefully ensure
the arts' future.
Special correspondent Jared Bowen GBH Boston reports.
It's part of our American Creators series and ongoing arts and culture series, Canvas.
JARED BOWEN: There's a stillness to this land, where the rawness of the woods meets manicured
beauty. Except for a fountain, there is quiet, just the way novelist Edith Wharton wanted
SUSAN WISSLER, Executive Director, The Mount: When a cold frost would kill her favorite
trees, it was like losing a child. I mean, she was deeply, deeply and instinctively,
I would say, connected to nature.
JARED BOWEN: Susan Wissler is executive director of The Mount, the home and gardens Edith Wharton
designed herself after purchasing this property in 1901.
It's tucked into the rolling hills of the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. And Wharton
wrote some of her most celebrated works here, including "Ethan Frome" and "The House of
SUSAN WISSLER: There's a scene in "The House of Mirth."
Lily Bart is at a house party on the Hudson. And the view that she describes out of her
window when she wakes up is very much Wharton's view from her bedroom window.
LIA RUSSELL-SELF, Writer: There's so much space for thoughts with all this inspiration.
JARED BOWEN: Today, it's writer Lia Russell-Self, who uses the pronoun they, who is guided by
this space. It's also now their job, as part of a privately funded, national pilot program
called Artists At Work.
It was set up during the pandemic to give six artists employment in cultural institutions
across the Berkshires. Others include a choreographer working with the dance festival Jacob's Pillow,
a filmmaker joining an independent movie theater, and a visual artist teaming with the Massachusetts
Museum of Contemporary art, all in rural Western Massachusetts.
Each artist has the freedom to develop any project they want for a six-month residency.
RACHEL CHANOFF, Director, THE OFFICE performing arts + film: The artists are being paid to
just make the beautiful work they make as artists that helps us all make meaning of
the world. And they're also paid to bring their thinking to social initiatives.
JARED BOWEN: Rachel Chanoff is director of THE OFFICE, a for-profit New York- and London-based
performing arts and film production company that conceived the artists-for-hire pilot
and pays each of the artists a living wage and provides them health care while in the
RACHEL CHANOFF: The reason we didn't want to make it a grant, we wanted to make it a
wage, is so that they would -- at post-program, they would be eligible for unemployment.
JARED BOWEN: Chanoff proudly acknowledges that paying artists who found themselves jobless
or struggling financially during the pandemic is entirely unoriginal.
Its roots are in the WPA, the Works Progress Administration established during the Great
Depression. It employed thousands of artists teaching art classes, creating theater, painting
murals and documenting the country through photography. It fueled the careers of figures
like actor, writer and director Orson Welles, painter Jacob Lawrence, and sculptor Louise
When did you recognize it worked during the WPA and putting artists to work in this country?
RACHEL CHANOFF: Was a time where artists were recognized as workers.
Artists are so often thought of as kind of the garnish on the plate and the luxury item.
When artists are unemployed, you have unemployed people who are on their way to becoming poor
LIA RUSSELL-SELF: To have like six months of, this is your salary, this is what you
have got, and if something happens to you, you can -- you can go see a doctor, which
is not a luxury I have had for quite a while.
JARED BOWEN: In non-pandemic times, people flock to the Berkshires in the summertime
for world-class concerts, art exhibitions, and theater. It's a feast for those craving
But, here, Russell-Self feels most at home because of the landscape. And their project
for the pilot program is to work with young people of color to explore and strengthen
their ties to this land.
They regularly walk Edith Wharton's one-time estate with groups like The Rusty Anvil, which
connects marginalized communities to nature.
Ultimately, Russell-Self wants to make this a destination for other people of color who
might not always feel welcome in predominantly white spaces like The Mount. And the artists
will write a collection of poetry inspired by the experience.
SUSAN WISSLER: I don't know how the independent artists are going to sustain and endure through
JARED BOWEN: Throughout the pandemic, The Mount has had to suspend programs that would
normally give artists a platform. And that's the situation nationwide, with countless artists
among the unemployed and without a sense of when or if their jobs will return.
LIA RUSSELL-SELF: I'm used to working a few different gigs, a few different projects to
try and, like, piece everything together. That's totally not possible now.
JARED BOWEN: Which is why the pilot's organizers are hoping it can be replicated around the
country, where Rachel Chanoff says she knows artists can shape our economic recovery, if
they're just given the means.
RACHEL CHANOFF: We're hoping that this is - - really changes the conversation, changes
the conversation about the impact and the utility of arts. It's that art impacts mental
health and food systems and economies.
Art is a crucial part of our endeavor as a commonwealth. And that's where the conversation
needs to look.
JARED BOWEN: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jared Bowen in Lenox, Massachusetts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we thank you, Jared Bowen.
And on the "NewsHour" online: the latest episode of our podcast "America, Interrupted" explores
the history of voter suppression, what it looks like today and how the pandemic has
made it worse.
You can listen on PBS.org/NewsHour/podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
And 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.
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