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The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday instantly upended the nation’s politics in the middle of an already bitter campaign, giving President Trump an opportunity to try to install a third member of the Supreme Court with just weeks before an election that polls show he is currently losing.
The White House had already made quiet preparations in the days before Justice Ginsburg’s death to advance a nominee without waiting for voters to decide whether to give Mr. Trump another four years in the White House. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, vowed Friday night to hold a vote on a Trump nominee but would not say whether he would try to rush it through before the Nov. 3 vote in what would surely be a titanic partisan battle.
The sudden vacancy on the court abruptly transformed the presidential campaign and underscored the stakes of the contest between Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic challenger. It also bolstered Mr. Trump’s effort to shift the subject away from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and remind Republicans why it matters whether he wins or not, while also potentially galvanizing Democrats who fear a change in the balance of power on the Supreme Court.
If Mr. Trump were able to replace Justice Ginsburg, a liberal icon, it could cement a conservative majority for years to come, giving Republican appointees six of the nine seats. While Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. lately has sided at times with the four liberals on issues like immigration, gay rights and health care, he would no longer be the swing vote on a court with another Trump appointee.
No one understood the broader political consequences of her death better than Justice Ginsburg, who battled through one ailment after another in hopes of hanging onto her seat until after the election. Just days before her death, NPR reported, she dictated this statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spera: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Friday night that the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death should not be filled until after the presidential election.
“There is no doubt — let me be clear — that the voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” Mr. Biden told reporters after landing at New Castle Airport in Delaware following a campaign trip to Minnesota.
Mr. Biden, the former vice president, pointed to how Senate Republicans refused to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland in the final year of President Barack Obama’s second term.
“This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s the position the United States Senate must take today.”
The statement by Mr. Biden, who spent 36 years in the Senate and served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, immediately put him at odds with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who said a nominee by President Trump “will receive a vote” in the Senate.
On Friday night, Mr. Trump did not address his plans in brief remarks to reporters before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington, after a rally in Minnesota.
“She led an amazing life,” he said. “What else can you say? She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.”
In his comments to reporters, Mr. Biden also spoke of Justice Ginsburg’s life and career, noting that he presided over her confirmation hearings in 1993. He said she was “not only a giant in the legal profession, but a beloved figure.”
“She practiced the highest American ideals as a justice, equality and justice under the law, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for all of us,” he said.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said late Friday that he would move forward with President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
Mr. McConnell was notably unclear, however, about the timing, whether he would push for such a vote before the election or wait until a lame-duck session afterward. Several of his members face tough election contests and might balk at seeming to rush a nominee through in such highly political conditions.
Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine, the most endangered Republican incumbent, told The New York Times earlier this month that she would not favor voting on a new justice in October. “I think that’s too close, I really do,” she said.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told Alaska Public Media, during an interview Friday shortly before the announcement of Justice Ginsburg’s death, that she opposed confirming a new justice before the election. “I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee,” she said. “We are 50 some days away from an election.”
Ms. Murkowski called Justice Ginsburg a “true leader and pioneer” in a statement released Friday night. “She has been a champion and crusader for equal justice and civil liberties and has made an enduring mark on history,” Ms. Murkowski said.
Her statement made no reference to appointing a replacement.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that would consider any nominee, told an interviewer in 2018 that if an opening occurred in the last year of Mr. Trump’s term “we’ll wait to the next election.” Mr. Graham, who is in a competitive race of his own, made no mention of the matter in a statement he issued Friday night mourning Justice Ginsburg.
There was immediate reaction from a few Republican senators calling for a quick confirmation and vote before Election Day.
“I believe that the president should next week nominate a successor to the court, and I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said during an interview on Fox News. “This nomination is why Donald Trump was elected.”
Senators Martha McSally of Arizona and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, two of the most endangered Republican senators facing re-election, each posted statements to Twitter calling for the Senate to vote on Justice Ginsburg’s replacement.
Still, stunned Republicans expressed initial skepticism on Friday night that Mr. McConnell would find enough votes to confirm a new justice in the weeks before the election. And some of them thought Mr. McConnell would also be unable to do so in a lame-duck session if Republicans lose the White House and control of the Senate.
Two former Senate Republican leadership aides close to Mr. McConnell read the concluding sentence of his statement — “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate” — to mean that he was not committed to pushing through the confirmation before the election and may wait until the lame-duck session.
Privately, some party strategists warned that if Democrats won the presidency and the Senate and Republicans seated a new justice before Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the new Senators were sworn in, Democrats would exact retribution by ending the filibuster and moving to pack the Supreme Court.
Democrats, for their part, moved swiftly to warn Republicans against a hasty confirmation process — echoing Mr. McConnell’s own comments from 2016.
“While no one will ever truly be able to replace Justice Ginsburg, a new president should fill the vacancy,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a member of the Judiciary Committee. “Just like Mitch McConnell said.”
President Trump reacted with surprise to the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg moments after leaving the stage in Bemidji, Minn., where he had been delivering a lengthy campaign speech as news of her death became public.
“She just died? I didn’t know that,” Mr. Trump said, speaking briefly to reporters before quickly boarding Air Force One headed back toward Washington. “She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.”
During his speech, Mr. Trump had clearly appeared to be unaware of the potentially seismic shift to the balance of the Supreme Court that occurred while he was onstage at an airport hangar, where he launched sexist attacks against Hillary Clinton and stoked fears of a flood of Islamic terrorists that would occur if Joseph R. Biden Jr. were elected.
News that Justice Ginsburg had died of metastatic pancreatic cancer on Friday broke about 15 minutes after he took the stage.
Onstage, Mr. Trump said he wanted to appoint Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to the Supreme Court, and later, he noted that “one of the things we have done that is so good with the Supreme Court, we have two Supreme Court justices. We will have at the end of my term approximately 300 federal judges.”
But he made no mention of what will inevitably be a partisan battle about whether or not Mr. Trump can appoint a third Supreme Court justice in the six weeks before the election.
Instead, he appeared in a joking mood, launching into a string of sexist attacks against women who are not running for president. He noted that Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee, was not “big into yoga,” which she claimed was the subject of many of her deleted emails on her personal server. “If she is, she is not getting her money’s worth,” he said, prompting vintage chants of “Lock Her Up” that the president did nothing to quell. He also inaccurately accused Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York of spending $2 million on “dresses” and rent and resuscitated an inaccurate story about Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota marrying her brother.
In contrast, he portrayed himself as the savior of Big Ten football.
“I am your wall,” he said, “between the American dream and chaos.”
Justice Ginsburg’s death could inflame partisan polarization amid a tense presidential campaign season.
But in a show of togetherness on Friday night as the news began to spread in Washington, some people gravitated to the steps of the Supreme Court building. The gathering became a crowd, and a vigil. Some people carried candles, and some shed tears.
Across the United States, people have participated in an outpouring of grief for the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and a pioneering advocate for women’s rights.
“Ruthie was my friend and I will miss her terribly,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts and a former presidential candidate, said on Twitter.
“As a young mom heading off to Rutgers law school, I saw so few examples of female lawyers or law professors,” she added. “But Ruthie blazed the trail. I’m forever grateful for her example — to me, and to millions of young women who saw her as a role model.”
The chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr., said in a statement released by the court: “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the loss was “devastating.”
“Every family in America benefited from her brilliant legacy and courage,” she added in a statement. “Her opinions have unequivocally cemented the precedent that all men and women are created equal.”
In recent years, as the court has tilted to the right, Justice Ginsburg became the senior member and de facto leader of a four-justice liberal bloc, drawing attention with her powerful and pointed dissenting opinions. A law student, Shana Knizhnik, anointed her the Notorious R.B.G., a play on the name of the Notorious B.I.G., a famous rapper who was Brooklyn-born, like the justice.
“Gutted,” Ms. Knizhnik tweeted on Friday. “Thank you for everything, R.B.G. May your memory be a blessing.”
Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be a major-party candidate for president, said that “Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me.”
“There will never be another like her,” she added.
Many tributes to Justice Ginsburg looked to the future. “Now is not the time for cynicism or hopelessness,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said on Twitter. “There is and continues to be political possibility to preserve our democracy & move forward.”
Democratic donors gave more money online in the 9 p.m. hour after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died — $6.2 million — than in any other single hour since ActBlue, the donation-processing site, was launched 16 years ago.
Then donors broke the site’s record again in the 10 p.m. hour when donors gave another $6.3 million — more than $100,000 per minute.
The unprecedented outpouring shows the power of a looming Supreme Court confirmation fight to motivate Democratic donors. The previous biggest hour saw $4.3 million in donations processed on Aug. 20, according to a company spokesperson, the final night of last month’s convention when Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke.
Hours after Ms. Ginsburg’s death, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, pledged that whomever President Trump picks to replace her would receive a confirmation vote. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” he said in a statement.
“The conventional wisdom is that the Supreme Court only motivates Republicans, but these fund-raising totals demonstrate that that has changed,” said Tommy Vietor, a founder of the progressive Crooked Media group and a veteran of the Obama administration.
While ActBlue does not show where donations go in real time, Democratic donors flooded into at least one page dedicated to key Senate races, called Get Mitch or Die Trying. The page, created by Crooked Media, raised more than $3 million in about three hours, dividing the proceeds between 13 different Democrats running for Senate this year.
Supreme Court confirmation fights have led to big swells of donations before. The Senate hearings and votes on Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in 2018 drove record donations into the campaign coffers of then-Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a centrist Democrat who raised $12.4 million in the first half of October after she announced she would oppose his nomination. She was defeated in her re-election bid the next month.
Senator Mitch McConnell vowed late Friday that he would move to put President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, breaking with his 2016 stance and setting the stage for a bruising battle that promised to reverberate through the 2020 elections.
“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement issued not long after news of Justice Ginsburg’s death became public. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
It was a stark turnabout from his position four years ago, when Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, reacted to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia by declaring that a successor should await the outcome of the presidential election, and then proceeded to block President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, sought to remind Mr. McConnell of that former position minutes after the news of Justice Ginsburg’s death, saying in a tweet: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
His words were not accidental. They were a verbatim recitation of what Mr. McConnell said in his surprising announcement in February 2016 immediately after Justice Scalia’s death.
The difference now, Mr. McConnell has said, is that the same party controls both the Senate and the White House as opposed to 2016, when Democrats held the presidency and Republicans the Senate. At the time, that was not a main element of the Republican argument.
In his statement Friday night, Mr. McConnell made no mention of the timing for considering nominees, a sign that he was calculating the best scenario for Supreme Court hearings and a vote, given that several Republican senators are facing tough re-election challenges.
Democrats are virtually powerless to block Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans from moving ahead to fill a vacancy in the court if they decide they want to do so.
And any Republican who resists would come under tremendous pressure given the chance for Mr. Trump, who is battling for re-election, to get a third nominee for the court and lock in his conservative majority. Republicans, led by Mr. McConnell, have made their push to place more than 200 conservative judges on the federal bench a centerpiece of their agenda, and Mr. McConnell will no doubt want to put an exclamation point on that achievement.
If Mark Kelly, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Arizona, unseats Senator Martha McSally, a Republican who was appointed to her seat and began serving last year, he could be sworn in as early as Nov. 30 — possibly in time to vote on a new Supreme Court nominee, elections experts said.
Hypothetically, that would narrow the Republicans’ 53-to-47 majority in the upper chamber, which may become relevant if a vote on a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was delayed until a lame-duck session after the election.
The Arizona race is technically a special election. The state’s Republican governor appointed Ms. McSally to the seat after she was defeated by Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, in a closely contested Senate race in 2018.
Mr. Kelly, a former astronaut and the husband of former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, has maintained a steady lead over Ms. McSally, a former military pilot. If Mr. Kelly wins, state election law stipulates a final canvass of the balloting be completed by the end of November, barring legal challenges.
On Friday, Republican and Democratic election attorneys told The Arizona Republic that such a scenario was possible — a possibility embraced on social media by progressives grappling with the dark and unnerving prospect of a high-stakes court fight with an uncertain outcome.
“Everything in statute suggests it happens very quickly after the election results are finalized,” Mary O’Grady, a Democratic election lawyer, told the paper.
Ms. McSally joined other Senate Republicans late Friday in supporting a vow by Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, to force a vote on President Trump’s choice for the court.
“This U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court,” Ms. McSally wrote on Twitter, after noting Ms. Ginsburg’s achievements.
Mr. Kelly did not address the matter in a statement sent to reporters mourning Justice Ginsburg’s death.
“She fought cancer with the same ferocity she fought for civil rights and equality,” Mr. Kelly said. “I am in awe of how much Justice Ginsburg accomplished in her lifetime, leaving a legacy that impacted women’s rights and equal protection under the law for all Americans.”
There was a framed copy of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 on the wall of the chambers of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday. She counted the law among her proudest achievements, even as it illustrated her limited power. As part of the Supreme Court’s four-member liberal wing, she did her most memorable work in dissent.
The law was a reaction to her minority opinion in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, the 2007 ruling that said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 imposed strict time limits for bringing workplace discrimination suits. She called on Congress to overturn the decision, and it did.
On the court, however, her notable victories were few. As she put it in a 2013 interview in her chambers, she was fully engaged in her work as the leader of the liberal opposition on what she called “one of the most activist courts in history.”
When President Bill Clinton put Justice Ginsburg on the Supreme Court in 1993, some liberals feared she would turn out be a moderate. She had, for instance, voiced doubts about the court’s reasoning in Roe v. Wade, saying it had moved too fast in establishing a nationwide right to abortion.
The fears were misplaced. Over her 27 years on the court, she emerged as a champion of progressive causes.
“Ginsburg’s liberalism extended to all areas of the law: civil rights, of course, but also criminal procedure, civil liberties and even economic disputes,” Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, said.
During her tenure, on courts led by Chief Justices William H. Rehnquist and John G. Roberts Jr., the court’s more conservative members were in the majority. She and her liberal colleagues needed a fifth vote to achieve a majority, and that vote typically belonged to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who for years served as the court’s ideological fulcrum.
In that coalition, Justice Ginsburg was on the winning side in cases on abortion, affirmative action, gay rights and the death penalty. But her most striking work was when she failed to persuade the majority of her views.
In 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, which effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, she wrote that the majority had been shortsighted in saying the law was no longer needed. “It is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm,” she wrote, “because you are not getting wet.”
President Trump, who counts his two Supreme Court appointments as among his greatest successes, last week issued a new list of 20 potential nominees to the court. There was no vacancy at the time, and the exercise seemed aimed at focusing attention on an issue that had helped secure his election in 2016.
With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, the list has become the subject of intense interest.
In 2016, similar lists helped persuade wary conservatives to support his unconventional candidacy, particularly because the death of Justice Antonin Scalia that February had created a vacancy. That the new list, which included three senators and two former solicitors general, was issued when there was no vacancy suggested that the move had political aims.
Mr. Trump now has about 40 potential nominees to choose among. Before listing the new candidates last week, he singled out three judges from earlier lists who are widely believed to remain front-runners: Amy Coney Barrett of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago; Thomas M. Hardiman of the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia; and William H. Pryor Jr. of the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta.
The new list included three Republican senators: Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Over the nation’s history, it was not unusual for sitting senators to be named to the Supreme Court, though it has been almost half a century since a former senator sat on the court.
The new list included lawyers who had worked at the White House and in the Justice Department, notably Noel J. Francisco, who recently stepped down as solicitor general, having defended many of Mr. Trump’s policies and programs before the justices, as well as a number of federal appeals court judges.
All of his candidates, Mr. Trump said, were judicial conservatives in the mold of Justice Scalia and two current members of the court, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. and President Trump turned their attention on Friday to Minnesota, where victory eluded Mr. Trump four years ago, with dueling events on the first day of in-person early voting in the state.
Mr. Biden traveled to Hermantown, a suburb of Duluth, where he visited a carpenters’ training center. Later Friday, Mr. Trump was scheduled to hold a rally in Bemidji, about 135 miles to the northwest of where Mr. Biden appeared.
In a speech at the training center, Mr. Biden leaned on his middle-class roots and sketched a picture of a Trump presidency where billionaires reaped financial gains and ordinary people struggled as the coronavirus pandemic raged.
“Like a lot of you, I spent a lot of my life with guys like Donald Trump looking down on me, looking down on the people who make a living with their hands,” Mr. Biden said. “People who take care of our kids, clean our streets.”
He added: “These are the guys that always thought they were better than me, better than us, because they had a lot of money. Guys inherit everything they’ve got and still manage to squander it.”
The competing campaign events on Friday came in a state where Mr. Trump is going on the offensive, even as he simultaneously plays defense in a number of critical battlegrounds like neighboring Wisconsin. Mr. Trump lost Minnesota to Hillary Clinton by only 1.5 percentage points in 2016, and the Trump campaign has targeted the state as a pickup opportunity this time around.
But no Republican presidential candidate has won the state since Richard M. Nixon’s re-election in 1972, and Mr. Biden appears to be in a substantially stronger position than Mrs. Clinton was, with time running out for Mr. Trump to improve his fortunes. Mr. Biden held a nine-point lead among likely voters in a poll conducted this month by The New York Times and Siena College.
Senator Kamala Harris of California urged Black Americans to vote on Friday, saying it was “up to us to act” in a forceful call to action for one of the Democratic Party’s most important voting blocs.
Ms. Harris, the vice-presidential nominee, made that point in an op-ed published in The Philadelphia Tribune, in a video appearance to kick off a virtual “Turn Up and Turn Out the Vote” campaign, and in a conversation with the Grammy-winning R&B and pop star Lizzo on Instagram Live.
“One of the reasons that we know we need to vote is to honor the ancestors — those who shed their blood for our right to vote,” Ms. Harris said in her conversation with the musician, who pressed Ms. Harris on the campaign’s ability to energize voters on issues other than unseating President Trump.
“The general consensus right now is, like, ‘Anyone but Trump 2020,’” Lizzo said. “And that’s fine, but I also feel like, you know, the American people deserve more. We deserve a public servant.”
“It really is about lifting up the soul and the condition of the American people and treating people with dignity,” Ms. Harris replied, adding that a Biden-Harris administration would aim to raise the minimum wage to $15, name a Black woman to the Supreme Court, expand health care coverage and invest in low-interest loans for minority-owned businesses.
“The Black community understands just how critical this election is — because we are living the consequences of the last election every day,” Ms. Harris wrote in her op-ed. “When it comes to nearly every issue that affects our lives, we have been disproportionately harmed by President Donald Trump and the failures of his administration.”
Democrats have long relied on Black voters, and Black women are the party’s most loyal demographic base. But whether they are inspired to turn out in great enough numbers to vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. could help determine whether he is victorious in the general election. After a record-setting Black turnout for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, the 2016 election saw a return to pre-Obama levels.
Ms. Harris’s appeals came on the first National Black Voter Day, which was created by the television station BET and the National Urban league and other civil rights organizations “to aid Black citizens against suppression tactics and ensure that their vote counts in the various elections taking place in November.”
Early voting began in four states on Friday, 46 days before Election Day on Nov. 3.
Among the states where voters can now vote in person is Minnesota, where both President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be making campaign stops on Friday. Voters also began casting ballots in South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming.
Elected Democrats, aiming to encourage their supporters to vote early, are eschewing the traditional Election Day photo-op for appearances at early voting sites. In Virginia, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner voted in Richmond and Alexandria, while Gov. Ralph Northam cast his ballot in Richmond, where he was the fifth person in line at 8 a.m.
Mr. Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, tweeted — unsurprisingly — that he had voted early for Mr. Biden and Democrats down the ballot. “What a great day!” Mr. Kaine wrote, describing the experience as “easy” and “convenient.”
Mr. Northam said in a statement that “Virginians can be confident their vote is secure, and will be counted,” and urged “every Virginia voter to know their options and make a plan for safely casting their ballot.”
In most places early voting means going to a City Hall or a local board of elections, though some larger jurisdictions will arrange for regional early vote centers. The pandemic has brought even larger early-vote locations, with some major league sports franchises opening their vacant arenas and stadiums for early voting.
“This is the most important election that I’ve voted in,” said Kate Antonenko, 43, of Minnesota. She went to the City Hall building in New Hope, a suburb of Minneapolis, to cast a vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris on Friday morning.
Ms. Antonenko, an emergency room nurse, said she voted in person as soon as she was able, because she did not want to take any chances. “I didn’t want to be quarantining with Covid come Election Day,” she said. “I didn’t want anything to keep my vote from counting.”
In 2012, Barack Obama became the first president to vote early, casting a ballot for himself at an early-voting site near his home on the South Side of Chicago. President Trump has voted by mail, a process he has publicly denigrated, for recent elections in Florida, which he made his permanent address last year.
Reports on social media suggested that lines to vote in Virginia were long, though that perception may be fueled in part by social-distancing requirements, which require people to space themselves out more than usual.
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence pushed officials at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a phone call on Thursday for answers about why they have endorsed roughly two dozen freshman House Democrats, two people familiar with the discussion said.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence jointly called the chamber’s chief executive officer, Tom Donohue, to press him on the endorsements, which have been a source of turmoil since they were announced.
The two asked if the endorsements were a “done deal,” according to one of the people briefed on the call, which was first reported by the website Axios.
In a break with past practice, the chamber — the influential and heavily Republican-leaning pro-business lobby — chose to endorse 23 first-term House Democrats, giving a boost to vulnerable Democratic incumbents and rankling conservatives. As arguably the country’s most powerful business organization, the chamber has disproportionately supported Republican candidates, pumping tens of millions of dollars into their campaigns.
Mr. Donohue walked through their process and explained they were backing almost 200 Republican House members.
But the tension comes as House Republicans are facing a challenging landscape in their efforts to retake the lower chamber of Congress.
While the group has endorsed a smattering of Democrats in recent years, they have represented a tiny fraction of the candidates it has supported.
But since Mr. Trump took office — frequently clashing with Republican orthodoxy on trade and other economic issues — the chamber has made a concerted effort to reimagine the way it evaluates candidates to try to spur bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, on the theory that doing so would better serve businesses.
Conservatives have balked at the shift, trying to derail the endorsement of the Democrats and criticizing the move once it became public.
Officials with the White House and the Chamber declined to comment on the call.
President Trump, who has long held up federal aid to help Puerto Rico recover from back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, announced on Friday that he was finally releasing $13 billion to rebuild its electrical grid and repair schools as he seeks to win over Puerto Rican voters living in the key battleground state of Florida.
For three years, Mr. Trump has been at odds with Puerto Rico, harshly attacking its leadership and blocking or placing restrictions on assistance after Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island, arguing that the island territory had received too much money already. At one point, he even discussed with aides the prospect of selling Puerto Rico rather than be saddled with the cost of recovery.
But with Puerto Ricans who relocated to Florida now a significant voting bloc in one of the most critical states in the fall campaign, the president abruptly pivoted and presented himself as a friend to the island and its people. “I’m the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico,” he claimed. “Nobody even close.”
Few others would agree with that claim, even as Puerto Rico’s government thanked the administration. Others pointed to the campaign as the real motive for finally releasing the aid.
“The Trump administration delayed, dragged its feet and resisted allocating these badly needed funds,” said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a New York Democrat who was born in Puerto Rico. “Now, 46 days before the election, the administration has finally seen fit to release these funds.”
Earlier this week, Joseph R. Biden made his first visit to Florida as the Democratic presidential nominee and shared his plans for Puerto Rico. Biden said he believes statehood “would be the most effective means of ensuring that residents of Puerto Rico are treated equally, with equal representation at a federal level,” and that residents of Puerto Rico must first decide if they want to pursue statehood.
Mr. Biden’s plan also called for accelerated access to reconstruction funding, investments in Puerto Rican infrastructure after devastating hurricanes, expanded health care and nutrition assistance, and efforts to “reduce its unsustainable debt burden.”
President Trump’s effort to court suburban women by promising to protect their neighborhoods is encountering one sizable hitch: Most suburban women say their neighborhoods aren’t particularly under threat.
Their communities feel safe to them, and they’re not too concerned about poorer neighbors moving in, according to polls in key battleground states by The New York Times and Siena College. They say in a national Monmouth University poll that racial integration is important to them, and unlikely to harm property values or safety. Many have never heard of the federal fair-housing rule encouraging integration that the president has often cited by name in arguing that Joseph R. Biden Jr. would abolish the suburbs.
They’re not even all that worked up about the idea of new apartments nearby, sullying suburbs dominated by single-family homes.
“Nope, not at all. I have no concern whatsoever about it,” said Diane Wonchoba, an independent in the Minneapolis suburb of Blaine. She pointed to an apartment recently built half a mile from her house. “It’s beautiful. Way to go. We built our home, so we were the new people on the block 20 years ago.”
“I don’t even think about it,” said Judy Jones, sounding surprised that she was supposed to be troubled by a series of apartment buildings half a block from her home in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.
Not even for the traffic they cause? Or the strain they put on local schools? “Oh, no,” she said.
Demographic change and new development in the suburbs have no doubt unnerved some longtime residents (and studies suggest those unnerved residents speak the loudest in local politics, often blocking housing that would make communities more integrated and affordable). But those anxieties are hardly proving a decisive force in the presidential election.
If Mr. Trump hopes that fanning fears of suburban decline, following a summer of urban unrest, will help coax back some of the suburban women who have turned away from the Republican Party over the past four years, there is little evidence that it’s working.
In last week’s Times/Siena College polls in Minnesota and Wisconsin — two states particularly affected by unrest — Ms. Wonchoba, Ms. Jones and a majority of other suburban women said they would not be concerned if new apartments, subsidized housing developments or new neighbors with government housing vouchers came to their neighborhoods.
They also said, by a two-to-one margin, that they support government vouchers for lower-income families to live in more affluent communities.
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