South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, both military veterans, clashed at the 5th Democratic debate Wednesday night after the representative questioned the mayor's military judgement.

What they're saying: Buttigieg and Gabbard had words over a recent quote from Buttigieg on sending troops to Mexico.

  • Gabbard stated: "Pete, you'll agree that the service that we both have provided to our country as veterans by itself does not qualify us to serve as commander in chief. I think the most recent example of your inexperience in national security and foreign policy came from your recent careless statement about how you as president would be willing to send our troops to Mexico to fight the cartels..."

Buttigieg struck back, accusing Gabbard of taking what he said out of context: "that is outlandish even by the standards of today's politics."

  • "I was talking about U.S.-Mexico cooperation. We've been doing security cooperation with Mexico for years, with law enforcement cooperation and a military relationship that could continue to be developed with training relationships, for example. Do you seriously think anybody on this stage is proposing invading Mexico?"

Reality check: Buttigieg did say at a Latino forum in Los Angeles on Sunday that he'd be willing to send troops into Mexico, but as a means for "security cooperation," the Sacramento Bee reports.

  • "I’d only order American troops into conflict if American lives were on the line and if it was necessary to meet treaty obligations," he added.

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The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Where bringing students back to school is most risky

Data: Coders Against COVID; Note: Rhode Island and Puerto Rico did not meet minimum testing thresholds for analysis. Values may not add to 100% due to rounding; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Schools in Southern and Midwestern states are most at risk of coronavirus transmission, according to an analysis by Coders Against COVID that uses risk indicators developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Thankfully, schools have not yet become coronavirus hotspots, the Washington Post reported this week, and rates of infection are lower than in the surrounding communities. But that doesn't mean schools are in the clear, especially heading into winter.

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