Republican lawmakers are criticizing Democratic nominee Joe Biden for chartering an Amtrak train. Biden and President Donald Trump are tied in the swing state of Iowa. And voters waited in long lines in Wisconsin as early voting began on Tuesday.
There are 13 days until the election and 54 days until the Electoral College meets.
Republicans Criticize Biden’s Chartered Amtrak Train
Republican lawmakers want to make sure that Amtrak didn’t give any special breaks to “Mr. Amtrak” when he chartered a train.
After the Biden campaign booked an October train trip to western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, a group of Republican lawmakers questioned whether he received any special treatment or interfered with regular passenger and freight operations.
“We are concerned that the apparent use of a struggling, resource-deprived, publicly run service for political gain does not serve the best interests of Amtrak or the American taxpayers at this time,” the lawmakers wrote, saying they wanted to make sure the campaign “paid a full, non-discounted rate.”
Amtrak and the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for a response. His September filing with the Federal Election Commission included a $265,000 charge for “train lease.”
The railroad’s website says charter trains start at $30,000 in the busy Northeast Corridor and “must operate on existing Amtrak routes; must not be one-time trips; and must generate sufficient profit to justify the diversion of resources and assets to execute them.”
Biden frequently cites the thousands of trips he made on Amtrak to be home with his kids as a young senator, earning him the nicknames “Amtrak Joe” and “Mr. Amtrak.” House and Senate Republican lawmakers have also chartered Amtrak trains to travel to their annual caucus retreat.
The letter was signed by Arkansas Republican Representative Rick Crawford, Ohio Republican Representative Bob Gibbs and Pennsylvania Republican Representatives Scott Perry and Lloyd Smucker. — Keith Laing
Biden and Trump Are Neck and Neck in Iowa (11:23 a.m.)
The presidential race is tightening in Iowa, according to a new Monmouth University poll that shows Trump and Biden neck and neck.
In a survey of registered voters in Iowa, 48% backed Trump and 47% Biden, within the margin of error. Monmouth’s September poll showed Trump winning by a margin of 6 percentage points 50% to 44%.
Biden’s share is buoyed by an increase in support among seniors. Trump still leads Biden among voters aged 18 to 49, 50% to 44%, and voters aged 50 to 64, 51% to 45%. However, Biden has gained ground among voters over the age of 65, leading Trump 54% to 43%, up from 50% to 46% a month ago.
Republican Senator Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield remain deadlocked, unchanged from a month ago. Among registered voters Ernst and Greenfield are both at 47% support, the same as its September poll.
The poll of 501 registered voters in Iowa was conducted Oct. 15-19 and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. — Emma Kinery
Long Lines as Early Voting Begins in Wisconsin (10:15 a.m.)
While attention has been focused on vote-by-mail, early voting has also seen a surge this year, including in the battleground state of Wisconsin on Tuesday.
On the first day of early voting, which runs through Nov. 1, high turnout was seen in bigger urban areas like Milwaukee and Madison.
Long lines have also been seen on the first day of early voting in Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Virginia, with voters saying that they are concerned that mail-in ballots will be rejected and that there will be long lines on Election Day.
In 2016, 17% of ballots were cast through in-person early voting, compared to nearly 24% cast in vote-by-mail, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Both are spiking this year, with nearly 39 million ballots cast already. That’s almost as many as the 46 million early and mail-in votes cast by Election Day in 2016, with two weeks of voting still left to go.
AOC Seeks to Get Out the Vote Via Video Game (7:37 a.m.)
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew hundreds of thousands of viewers online to watch her play a video game as part of a get-out-the-vote effort.
The New York Democrat went on Twitch Tuesday night to play Among Us, a sci-fi murder mystery game in the mold of “Clue,” where players try to determine who is an impostor.
The live video stream of her game peaked at 435,000 viewers, according to The Verge, making it one of the biggest streams ever. But Ocasio-Cortez’s viewership fell below the record of 600,000 who tuned in to watch the rapper Drake play Fortnite.
She was joined by Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, her teenage daughter Isra, and several big Twitch streamers. Omar’s profile image on the site is a piece of fan art showing her as a pilot in the popular Gundam anime franchise.
Biden’s Ads Target Key Latino Groups (7:01 a.m.)
The Biden campaign will run three Spanish language ads as it seeks to boost his polling with Latino populations.
One ad, called “Abandonados,” features a Florida priest arguing that Trump “abandoned Puerto Ricans” after Hurricane Maria. It will run in Florida and Philadelphia, the mainland city with the second-largest Puerto Rican population.
A second ad airing in Florida, “Son Muy Similares,” features a refugee living in Florida who compares Trump’s behavior in office, which she calls authoritarian, to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
A third ad, “Pasar la Pagina,” contrasts images of white nationalist rallies and Trump standing with law enforcement officers holding shields with Biden talking to Latinos, saying it’s time to turn the page. It will air in battleground states with significant Hispanic populations, including Florida, Arizona, Nevada and North Carolina.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found Latino voters preferred Biden by 34 points, but his numbers have lagged Hillary Clinton’s share of the Latino vote in 2016.
Trump’s Spanish-Language Ad Features Salsa Music
President Donald Trump, meantime, has his own Spanish-language ad, and it makes its case in song.
In the ad, called “Por Trump,” Cuban-American salsa band Los 3 de La Habana play an upbeat song with lyrics about how you should vote for the president because of the good life, the economy and your family.
Unlike Biden’s more targeted ads, the Trump spot features snippets of different Hispanic groups: salsa dancing, the Miami waterfront, families eating rice and beans and playing soccer, aerial footage of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona, people waving Puerto Rican flags and a Mexican Independence Day parade in Chicago.
“Our latest ad captures the richness and beauty of America’s diverse Hispanic cultures,” said Trump campaign spokesman Giancarlo Sopo.
The campaign said it would air in “key markets” across the U.S.
Trump and Biden will meet for the second and final debate starting at 9 p.m. on Thursday at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
— With assistance by Emma Kinery, and Keith Laing