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Trump and Biden court crucial senior voters in the biggest battleground

Trump brings reelection campaign to seniors in battleground Florida

National Journal politics editor Josh Kraushaar joins ‘The Daily Briefing’ with analysis

A new TV commercial by President Trump’s reelection campaign touts that the president is “the clear choice” for seniors, who are a key voting bloc in many of the battleground states that will decide the winner of the presidential election.

The ads running on the airwaves in Florida and other crucial swing states as the president courted voters 65 and older on Friday during a stop in Fort Myers in southwest Florida.

"I am honored to be here in Fort Myers to reaffirm my solemn pledge to America’s Seniors: I will protect you, I will defend you, and I will fight for you with every ounce of energy and conviction that I have," the president told the crowd.

And he vowed to keep seniors safe from the coronavirus pandemic, promising that he was "working as hard as I can" so that they "can kiss and hug your children and grandchildren very soon."

Senoirs make up roughtly 20% of the population in Florida, which with 29 electoral votes up for grabs is the largest of the traditional battlegrounds.

The president’s stop came three days after Democratic nominee Joe Biden visited Florida and told a crowd of seniors that Trump views them as “expendable, forgettable.”

And the president’s trip comes as Trump is trying to avoid becoming the first Republican presidential nominee in two decades to lose the 65 and older vote.

Former Vice President Al Gore – who in the 2000 election repeatedly emphasized that he would keep Social Security “in a lockbox” – was the last Democratic presidential nominee to win the senior vote.

President Donald Trump speaks during an event on "Protecting America’s Seniors," Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Four years ago Trump captured the national vote of those 65 and older by a 52%-45% margin over Clinton, according to exit polls. But fast forward four years and the latest Fox News national poll indicates Biden with a slight 49%-47% edge over the president among seniors. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News national poll released this week showed a larger 54%-44% margin for Biden among voters 65 and older.

One key reason may be the coronavirus pandemic, which is tied to the deaths of nearly 220,000 Americans and has hit seniors particularly hard.

“Seniors are much more impacted by the coronavirus, by their concern about getting it, their concern about what happens if they do get. They’re much more sensitive to it because they’re in the population is most at risk,” noted longtime Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. “They’re focused on coronavirus and the president’s numbers on coronavirus are not strong. Voters generally disapprove of the job he’s doing handling the issue.”

Biden, during a stop Tuesday in heavily populated Broward County in southeast Florida, pointed to comments Trump made last month in Swanton, Ohio, when he argued that the coronavirus "affects virtually nobody" except seniors.

"It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems, that's what it really affects, that's it," the president said at the time.

“Nobody,” Biden said on Tuesday. “Think about that. Who was he talking about when he said it affects virtually nobody. He was talking about America’s seniors. He was talking about you.”

And speaking directly to voters age 65 and older, the former vice president argued that Trump thinks “you’re expendable, 'forgettable, you’re virtually nobody. That’s how he sees seniors. … The only senior that Donald Trump cares about … is the senior Donald Trump."

Biden also claimed the president will “undermine the Medicare trust fund and increase overall out of pocket costs for seniors.” And he charged that Trump “says he wants to lower drug prices, but he hasn’t done a single thing to do it.”

The Trump campaign fired back, arguing that “Biden resorted to his worn tactic of lying about President Trump, who has steadfastly protected Social Security and Medicare and who has pledged to always do so.”

Last week, as he was recovering at the White House after being diagnosed and hospitalized for COVID-19, tweeted that seniors are “MY FAVORITE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!” 

And the announcer in the new Trump campaign commercial highlights that “President Trump protected Social Security and Medicare” and that Trump “lowered drug costs and during his first term Medicare Advantage premiums fell 34%.”

Four years ago Trump narrowly edged out 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Florida. An average of some of the most recent polling in the state shows Biden holding a single-digit lead over the president. In a sign of how important the state is to the president’s reelection, Trump’s spent three days campaigning in the state this week.

“Seniors in Florida are critical to winning the state,” noted Newhouse, who was Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s pollster in the 2012 presidential campaign. “The key voter groups in the state would be seniors and Hispanics. A strong performance among seniors would go a long way towards giving the president an edge in the state.”

And it’s not just Florida. Seniors make up at least 17% of the population in the battleground states of Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire.

The concentration by the two standard-bearers on seniors this week is welcome news to many.

With America dealing with the most devastating pandemic in a century, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression more than 80 years ago, the most intense and widespread protests and unrest over racial inequity in decades, and arguably the most bitter U.S. Supreme Court confirmation battle in recent history, it’s little wonder that some issues critical to seniors that usually dominate presidential elections have been pushed to the side in recent months.

 “We’re certainly concerned that our issues have been overshadowed because when these things pass – and they will pass – the fundamental bedrock issues for Americans- things like their health, taking care of aging parents, Medicare, prescription drug prices, Social Security – those things are still going to be with us,” AARP New Hampshire state director Todd Fahey told Fox News.

 “It’s really important that the voters understand where each candidate stands on these singularly important issues,” Fahey emphasized. “They are of great important to the nation and the candidates need to speak to all of them.”

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Cruz slams court packing, uses Democrats' words against them in impassioned argument

Cruz rails against Dems over court packing

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks out against the idea of increasing the size of the Supreme Court.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, warned Wednesday that "the next fight" Republicans will face if Democrats assume control of the Senate will center on court packing. He railed against the practice, and used several prominent Democrats' own words on the subject to support his case.

Cruz joined other Republicans in speaking out against the concept of one party exerting power by increasing the size of the Supreme Court so they can confirm judges whose philosophies are in line with their own.

"Packing the court is wrong, it is an abuse of power," Cruz said during Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing. "I believe, should they win in November, that our Democratic colleagues will pack the court."

Cruz then rattled off a string of quotes from Democrats who spoke out against court packing in the past.

"I will read you some quotes," Cruz said. "Joe Biden in 1983, quote, FDR’s court packing idea was quote ‘a boneheaded idea, it was a terrible, terrible mistake to make. And it put in question for an entire decade the independence of the most significant body … in this country.'"

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

Cruz then used a 2017 quote from fellow Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who said, "‘The Judiciary Committee once stood against a court packing scheme that would have eroded judicial independence. That was a proud moment."

The Texas Republican then cited another Democratic committee member.

"Sen. Durbin, in 2018, quote, ‘Seventy-five years ago we went through this and I think the Congress was correct in stopping this popular president named Franklin Roosevelt from that idea,'" Cruz recalled.

ERIC HOLDER SLAMMED FOR REFERRING TO A TRUMP LOWER COURT JUDICIAL NOMINATION AS 'COURT PACKING'

Cruz finished by quoting the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who spoke out against court packing in 2019.

"If anything would make the court look partisan it would be that," Cruz said, quoting Ginsburg, continuing, "Nine seems to be a good number, it has been that way for a long time. I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court."

Cruz listed those quotes after he blasted Democrats for claiming that Republicans have been court packing by rapidly confirming judges to fill vacancies during the Trump administration.

"[W]hat we’ve seen this past week is, we’ve seen with a messaged discipline that is really quite remarkable, Democratic senators all making a new argument: that what Republicans have done for four years is packing the court. With all due respect, what utter nonsense," Cruz said. "Filling judicial vacancies is not what that term means and they are endeavoring to redefine the language to set the framework, to set the predicate for a partisan assault on the court."

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Cruz also referenced Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who have largely avoided recent questions about whether or not they support court packing. Cruz claimed that the reason why they have not wanted to address the issue is because they intend to pack the court.

"That’s the next fight we’re facing if Democrats win the majority," Cruz said at the end of his time. "I hope that we don’t see that come to pass."

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Supreme Court blocks attempt to prevent Planned Parenthood funding in South Carolina

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The Supreme Court Tuesday rejected an attempt by South Carolina Republican lawmakers to block public funding for Planned Parenthood.

The case, which sought to omit abortion clinics from the state's Medicaid program, was one of the first reproductive rights cases reviewed by the court since the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Congressional Democrats have voiced concern about adding an additional conservative judge to the Supreme Court with the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett – though Tuesday’s decision could be an indicator of how the high court justices will continue to interpret the law.

BARRETT FONDLY RECALLS HOW SCALIA RECOMMENDED GINSBURG FOR SUPREME COURT

Republicans and Democrats across the country are watching how the Supreme Court will handle cases involving reproductive rights and whether or not rights established under Roe v. Wade will be rolled back – a topic at the forefront of questioning as Barrett faced her second day of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

The high court blocked a request by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, to review two decisions made by the lower court that found the governor’s policy violated the rights of Medicaid enrollees, as it would prevent them from being able to choose from any qualified medical provider.

The decision by the lower court was in response to a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, which offers many other medical services aside from abortions.

Planned Parenthood has been targeted by GOP-led states in their attempts to separate the organization from state Medicaid services, and the Supreme Court has rejected several similar appeals in recent years.

In 2018, the Supreme Court blocked similar bans by Louisiana and Kansas lawmakers, who sought to end Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood along with other abortion providers. 

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanagh, who was appointed under President Trump, joined the liberal Supreme Court justices in blocking the state’s attempts, reported Reuters Tuesday.

Barrett has previously voiced strong opinions when it comes to abortion, and Democrats are worried she would be in favor of overturning the landmark rulling Roe v. Wade – a concern not eased by a response she gave during her Tuesday hearing.

“Do you agree,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Tuesday, “that Roe was wrongly decided?”

“I completely understand why you are asking the question, but I cannot pre-commit or say 'I am going in with some agenda,' because I am not,” Barrett said. “I have no agenda.”

Barrett later said that she did not consider Roe v. Wade to be a “super precedent” – meaning a case that cannot be over ruled.

But she added, “That doesn’t mean that Roe should be overruled.”

Barrett was not able to ease congressional Democrat’s concerns over how she would rule if confirmed into the Supreme Court, because she said she could not “pre-commit” to any ruling.  

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“Roe v. Wade is supported by 77 percent of the country,” Alexis McGill Johnson, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund said Tuesday. “By saying that a 47-year old decision is not ‘well settled’ law, simply because there have been calls for it to be overruled by a dogged and vocal minority, Amy Coney Barrett makes it perfectly clear that her addition to the Supreme Court would put the right to access safe, legal abortion, at risk.”

Barrett will return for another day of questioning Wednesday.

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How the Supreme Court confirmation process works

Republicans plan to proceed with Supreme Court hearing

Jamil Jaffer, former DOJ counsel, on Republicans planning to proceed with Supreme Court hearing despite COVID-19 diagnosis for three senators.

The confirmation process for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is set to begin Monday.

It's part of an intense process where judicial nominees respond to both written and in-person questioning in hopes of being approved by the Senate. Here is how that process usually works.

AMY CONEY BARRETT CONFIRMATION HEARING TO BEGIN OCT. 12 AS SENATE RAMPS UP COVID PRECAUTIONS

Background investigation

Prior to holding a hearing on a nominee, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducts an extensive investigation. According to the Congressional Research Service, this typically includes a questionnaire dealing with biographical, professional, and financial information. On top of this, the FBI conducts a background check and submits a confidential report to the committee. The American Bar Association also has a practice of rating federal judicial nominees with a mark of Well Qualified, Qualified, or Not Qualified, and notifying the committee of their determination.

In addition to this process, Supreme Court nominees often meet privately with senators to discuss their nomination.

Committee hearing

The next step is a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which often lasts four or five days. During the hearing, a nominee testifies on their own behalf and other witnesses will likely present testimony in support of or in opposition to her nomination. Senators typically ask questions related to past decisions a nominee has issued as a judge, political viewpoints they may have expressed that relate to a pertinent judicial issue, their overall judicial and constitutional philosophy, and any questionable aspects of their background.

AMY CONEY BARRETT'S 65-PAGE RESPONSE TO JUDICIARY COMMITTEE QUESTIONNAIRE RELEASED

In addition to their answers at the hearing, the nominee also provides written answers for the record in response to additional questions senators may submit to them in writing.

Since 1992, nominees have also sat for closed-door sessions with the committee to answer any particularly sensitive questions they may have that could have arisen from their confidential background check report.

Committee recommendation

Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the committee takes a vote on the nominee and determines whether or not to recommend the nomination to the full Senate. If a nominee is not recommended by the committee, they may still be confirmed by the full Senate. Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed despite the Judiciary Committee being split 7-7 on whether to recommend him and then voting 13-1 to send his nomination to the Senate with no recommendation.

Senate debate and vote

Following the Senate Judiciary Committee's vote, the nomination goes before the full Senate. Senators then engage in debate on the Senate floor over the nomination before they hold a vote to end debate. Until recently, the Senate required 60 Senators to vote to end debate, but the Senate changed the rules in 2017 so that only a simple majority is now needed.

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After the Senate votes to end debate, they then vote on whether to confirm the nominee. A simple majority is needed in order to confirm a justice to the Supreme Court.

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U.S. Supreme Court hears Google bid to end Oracle copyright suit

Antitrust movement against Big Tech taking shape imminently: Gasparino

Sources tell FOX Business’ Charlie Gasparino that Big Tech is bracing for antitrust enforcement action if Democrats win the White House and take the Senate.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday considered whether to protect Google from a long-running lawsuit by Oracle Corp. accusing it of infringing Oracle copyrights to build the Android operating system that runs most of the world's smartphones.

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The shorthanded court, down one justice following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month, heard oral arguments in Google's appeal of a lower court ruling reviving the lawsuit in
which Oracle has sought at least $8 billion in damages. The arguments were conducted by teleconference because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A jury cleared Google in 2016, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned that decision in 2018, finding that Google's inclusion of Oracle's software code in Android was not permissible under U.S. copyright law.

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Oracle accused Google of copying thousands of lines of computer code from its popular Java programming language without a license in order to make Android, a competing platform that
has harmed Oracle's business.

Google lawyer Thomas Goldstein told the court that the disputed Java code should not receive copyright protection because it was the "the only way'' to create new programs using
the programming language.

"The language only permits us to use those,'' Goldstein said.

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But Chief Justice John Roberts grilled Goldstein about that argument, suggesting Google should still have paid Oracle for a license to Java.

"Cracking the safe may be the only way to get the money that you want but that doesn't mean you can do it,'' Roberts said.

Justice Neil Gorsuch questioned Goldstein on whether Google had simply piggybacked on Oracle's innovation.

Gorsuch asked, "What do we do about the fact that the other competitors — Apple, Microsoft — have in fact been able to come up with phones that work just fine without engaging in this kind of copying?''

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Oracle and Google, two California-based technology giants with combined annual revenues of about $200 billion, have been feuding since Oracle sued for copyright infringement in 2010 in federal court in San Francisco. The case's outcome will help determine the level of copyright protection for software, according to intellectual property lawyers.

Google has said the shortcut commands it copied into Android do not warrant copyright protection because they help developers write programs to work across platforms, a key to software innovation.

DEMOCRAT-LED HOUSE PANEL TO SEEK BREAKUP OF BIG TECH

Even if the commands can be copyrighted, Google has said, its use of them was permissible under the "fair use'' defense to copyright infringement, which can protect copying that transforms an original copyrighted work. Google has argued that its copying was "undoubtedly transformative'' because it resulted in "an entirely new smartphone platform.''

The Federal Circuit in 2018 rejected Google's defense, saying "a mere change in format (e.g., from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones and tablets) is insufficient as a matter of law to qualify as a transformative use.''

Oracle will recalculate its damages request if it wins at the Supreme Court and the case is sent back to a lower court, Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in an interview. The
compensation request would exceed the roughly $8 billion Oracle previously demanded, Daley added.

FACEBOOK STEPS UP QANON CRACKDOWN

Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked whether a ruling in favor of Oracle would have the dire consequences that Google has predicted. Kavanaugh noted that it has been years since a lower court said Oracle's commands deserved copyright protection.

"I'm not aware that the sky has fallen in the last five or six years with that ruling on the books,'' Kavanaugh said.

President Donald Trump's administration backed Oracle in the case, previously urging the justices to turn away Google's appeal.

The Supreme Court originally scheduled the argument for March but postponed it due to the pandemic.

The court currently has eight justices rather than its full complement of nine. President Donald Trump has asked the U.S. Senate to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, his nominee to replace Ginsburg, by the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

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GOP touts momentum in court cases against Democrats over mail-in voting

Supreme Court reinstates SC rule requiring mail-in ballot voters include witness signature

Eric Shawn reports on Supreme Court ruling on ‘America’s Newsroom’

A string of recent court decisions in favor of Republicans has the GOP confident when it comes to battles centered on ballot harvesting, vote deadlines and other mail-in ballot issues.

While Democrats have been successful in some states, judges have lately been upholding existing state laws in the face of legal challenges that sought to expand allowances for mail-in voting.

"The RNC is protecting the vote by intervening against Democrats’ radical attempts to overhaul our election systems," Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. "We continue to win this battle in the courts, ensuring Americans can be confident in our elections, by stopping Democrat attempts to legalize ballot harvesting and count ballots received weeks after Election Day."

The latest ruling came when the Supreme Court on Monday rejected a lower court's attempt to force South Carolina to lift a witness requirement on absentee ballots. Democrats had sought to have the requirement put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Republicans had defended it as deterring fraud.

A federal appeals court also recently reinstated Georgia's Election Day deadline for receiving mailed ballots. A lower court had granted a three-day extension, but the Eleventh Circuit stayed the ruling pending appeal.

A push by the American Federation of Teachers to extend New Hampshire's deadline was similarly rejected by the state's superior court, Patch.com reported.

In another case, a federal judge ruled Sunday that an Ohio mandate requiring that signatures on absentee ballots be verified should remain in place despite a legal challenge from voting rights advocates.

Last week, the Maine superior court dealt a blow to organizations and voters who were looking to relax state laws involving third parties turning in ballots and the state's Election Day deadline for receiving them. The judge said state interests – including the desire to prevent voter fraud – outweigh any burdens that may be imposed on voters.

The Supreme Court also said Friday that it would review a 2016 Arizona law dealing with third parties submitting ballots. That law prohibits anyone but a family member or caregiver from returning another person’s early ballot.

In January, a federal appeals court ruled that Arizona’s law banning so-called “ballot harvesting” violates the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. Any further action has been stayed until the Supreme Court weighs in on the matter.

The Democratic National Committee did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment on the recent rulings.

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The Supreme Court has yet to issue a highly anticipated ruling on a case out of the key battleground state of Pennsylvania. The state supreme court granted a three-day extension to Pennsylvania's deadline for receiving ballots – which had previously been set as Election Day – as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. Republicans are looking to the high court to invalidate the ruling.

Fox News' Thomas Barrabi, Julia Musto, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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