This Time Trump’s Up Against His Own Record

Laveta Brigham

Stay tuned for special Election Night editions of Balance of Power. Donald Trump’s trying to make the last days of the of U.S. presidential campaign a referendum on his Democratic rival Joe Biden. But that approach — evident during last night’s final debate — is a lot riskier for Trump […]

Stay tuned for special Election Night editions of Balance of Power.

Donald Trump’s trying to make the last days of the of U.S. presidential campaign a referendum on his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

But that approach — evident during last night’s final debate — is a lot riskier for Trump now than in 2016 when, without the weight of incumbency, he successfully employed it against Hillary Clinton.

This election is different from any other in recent memory, with Americans voting during a pandemic that’s devastated the economy. But that’s likely to only strengthen a truism of politics: Presidential ballots tend to be referendums on those already in power.

While Trump turned in a more composed and disciplined debate performance, in contrast to the chaos and fury that defined his first face-off with Biden, he didn’t score the kind of dramatic victory that could have turned around a race polls show he’s losing.

Trump’s supporters had spent more than a week teeing up an attack on the foreign business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter. But, as Justin Sink reports, Biden managed to flip it back, highlighting news reports showing it was Trump’s company that had a bank account in China.

There were moments where the president may have made inroads. When Biden appeared to endorse the eventual elimination of the fossil fuel industry, Trump turned the remarks into a warning for swing-state voters that oil and gas jobs could be at risk.

But time’s running short and, if the polls are correct, opportunities are dwindling for Trump to engineer a shift in momentum.

Final U.S. Presidential Debate Between President Trump And Democratic Candidate Joe Biden

Trump pauses during the debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Photographer: Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg

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Global Headlines

Vulnerable immunity | Trump has more at stake than whether he remains in the White House. Holding the highest office in the land grants him effective immunity from federal criminal prosecution and gives him wide powers to stymie lawsuits against him and his businesses. As David Yaffe-Bellany reports, that all changes once he becomes an ordinary citizen again.

Campaign 2020

There are 11 days until the election. Here’s the latest on the race for control of the White House and Congress.

Biden’s fundraising advantage is letting him run several ads on different themes in crucial markets, giving him an edge over Trump. And prospects for a stimulus package passing Congress before Nov. 3 are fading fast.

Other developments

Sign up to receive daily election updates as a direct mobile notification on Twitter. Simply click on this link and like the tweet.

Big plans | China’s top officials begin deliberations Monday that will shape the world’s second-largest economy over the coming years. The four-day meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee will help determine policies on everything from technological innovation and climate change to growth targets and President Xi Jinping’s plans to strengthen economic self-sufficiency.

  • Xi took part in a ceremony today remembering China’s participation against the U.S. in the Korean War, sending a message that Beijing’s not intimidated by American military might.

Our lives matter | Young Nigerians have poured into the streets of Lagos and other cities in some of the biggest demonstrations of the democratic era in Africa’s most populous nation. As Dulue Mbachu, William Clowes and Antony Sguazzin report, the protests over police brutality have been fueled by social media and echo the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S.


Protesters against police brutality in Ogun State in southwestern Nigeria on Oct. 20.

Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images

Election test | Facing defeat in local elections, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has rolled out a last-ditch plan to widen his appeal. Struggling to deliver on promises to stamp out corruption and end the Kremlin-backed war in the country’s east, he has added five non-binding referendum questions to the ballot to nudge his supporters to vote as polls signal his party will fail to win a single big-city mayoral post.

Constitution rewrite | Chile votes Sunday whether to get rid of a dictatorship-era constitution that helped turn the country into an economic success story but failed to share those dividends with the broader population. While the process is meant to restore political stability, it could bring months of uncertainty as Chileans debate the size of the state and the social safety net they want to build.

What to Watch

  • More than 24 hours after Pope Francis appeared to back same-sex civil unions, the Vatican is scrambling to respond to comments that took the most senior levels of the Catholic Church by surprise, with its vast communication network of radio, TV and a newspaper remaining silent.
  • Chinese tech giant Huawei’s third-quarter revenue growth plunged to 3.7% from 23% the previous quarter as U.S. sanctions exacted a toll on its consumer business.
  • Guinea’s government ordered the army to end violent protests over election results that show incumbent President Alpha Conde is set to win a third term.

Pop quiz, readers (no cheating!). Which leader criticized a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, saying the nations citizens “WON’T BE ANYONE’S GUINEA PIG”? Send us your answers to [email protected]

And finally … The last trawlerman in the English port of Fleetwood, which once boasted 120 fishing vessels, plans to sell his boat. His grim outlook contrasts with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s willingness to risk a no-deal split with the European Union to defend British fishing. As Christopher Jasper reports, the reality is the industry has long slipped away from communities like Fleetwood and now accounts for just 0.12% of the U.K. economy.

Brexit effect on Fleetwood Fishing industry

A more generous Brexit agreement for the U.K. could help British fishermen like Derek Reader.

Photographer: Ian Hodgson/Bloomberg


— With assistance by Iain Marlow, and Rosalind Mathieson

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