As the days before the Nov. 3 general election are down to fewer than 100, there's a lot brewing in the presidential race.
Republican President Donald Trump, battered by sagging poll numbers behind his presumptive Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, said Thursday, July 30, the election may have to be postponed.
He did so in a tweet, just 16 minutes after the release of data showing the nation’s gross domestic product had fallen 33% in the second quarter of 2020.
In the tweet, Trump said, “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???!”
In a rare show of bipartisanship, joining Democrats in saying "You can't do that," were three Trump-backing top Texas Republicans – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and Gov. Greg Abbott.
CNN reported Cruz said while election fraud is a “serious problem” that needs to be fought, “the election should not be delayed.”
“I think it’s a joke, I guess," Cornyn told reporters. "I don't know how else to interpret it.”
Longstanding federal law sets the presidential election on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November every four years. Only Congress could change it – not the president.
“Obviously he doesn’t have the power to do that," Cornyn said. “So, I mean, so, all you guys in the press, your heads will explode and you'll write about it. I don’t know what his motivation is. He can’t do it.”
Trump has provided no documented proof that mail-in voting fraud is widespread. Five states do all their voting by mail – including solidly Republican Utah – and reports of fraud are rare.
Still, in 2017, the Texas Legislature passed legislation to widen the definition of mail-in ballot fraud, boost penalties for certain offenses, and strengthen rules for signature verification on those ballots. Also, it requires local election officials to notify voters when their ballots are rejected and limits who can assist voters in using the vote-by-mail option.
Abbott, who signed the bill into law, said there's no reason to postpone the elections.
"Texas has adopted procedures and guidelines to ensure safe and fair elections, including extending the early in-person voting period," Abbott said in a statement, "and the elections in Texas will occur on Nov. 3rd."
Trump is trying to undercut mail-in voting – although he himself votes by mail, noted Minnesota Democratic U.S, Sen. Amy Klobuchar. She was a losing contender for her party's presidential nomination, eventually dropping out, and endorsed Biden. Klobuchar, whose husband was quite sick with COVID-19 but recovered, says the option of mail-in voting during a rapidly spreading pandemic just makes sense.
With people urged to stay at home as much as possible, she says it's much safer for everyone to be able to vote from home.
The alternative is requiring people to risk their lives and those of others by voting in-person or not voting.
She has been pushing for more federal money for state and local infrastructure to keep an expected flood of mail-in ballots from overwhelming the system. That includes more money for the financially strapped United States Postal Service. She and others accuse Trump of trying to sabotage efficient mail service.
Some Democrats charge that Trump's efforts to postpone the election and blame fraud in mail-in voting is to set the stage to protest the election if he loses. They hope his tanking poll numbers, showing Biden ahead in several swing states Trump carried in 2016, hold true in November.
Meanwhile, Biden has said he will choose his running mate in August – presumably before the Democratic National Convention. It is scheduled in Milwaukee, Wis., from Monday, Aug. 17-Thursday, Aug. 20. It will be held virtually.
As for the Republican National Convention, it was set for Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C. But after Trump's desires for a huge blowout convention couldn't meet state and local social distancing pandemic requirements, the convention rally was shifted to Jacksonville, Fla. But as swing-state Florida became a super hotspot for the virus, Trump's advisers finally convinced him that the Florida event was unwise politically.
On July 23, Trump, in a White House press briefing, canceled that show, citing health dangers.
Now the Republicans have shifted back to Charlotte, planning a one-day convention, with just 336 delegates to attend.
That's where Trump will be nominated for a second term in a session that will be closed to the press for the first time since the 1830s.
Stay tuned, or at least, try to.