Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

America's fresh wave of tough-guy politics, coupled with protests that harass unpopular public servants who appear in the public sphere, has encouraged a dramatic escalation in political rhetoric.

Why it matters: Norms are hard to create, and easy to unravel. The shock factor of hearing grown men use such charged metaphors may have worn off, but that doesn't mean Americans have to resign themselves into accepting this as normal.

Driving the news: Pennsylvania's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Scott Wagner, is featured in a new video where he tells his opponent:

  • "You better put a catcher's mask on your face because I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes because I'm going to win this for the state of Pennsylvania."

Flashback to Wednesday: Eric Holder said Michelle Obama's "when they go low, we go high" slogan was too soft, and should instead be:

  • "No, when they go low, we kick them... When I say we kick them, I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate, we don’t do anything illegal, but we have to be tough and we have to fight."

Between the lines: Politicians are not to blame for the actions of others, but they can do their part to cool the rhetoric in these abnormally heated times.

  • Remember: In the past two years, we've had a gunman attempt to assassinate Republicans on a baseball diamond, and a white supremacist kill a woman with his car in Charlottesville.

What's next: Rep. Steve Scalise, who was nearly killed on that diamond, has pushed back on the recent rhetoric:

  • On Holder: "As a survivor of a politically motivated attack, it is tragic to think this is an acceptable state of political discourse in our country. I refuse to stand for it. Democratic leaders need to condemn, rather than promote these dangerous calls to action."
  • On Wagner: "These comments are totally unacceptable. As I’ve said many times before, there is absolutely no place in our politics for this kind of rhetoric."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 30,199,007 — Total deaths: 946,490— Total recoveries: 20,544, 967Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 6,675,593 — Total deaths: 197,644 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans wouldn't get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.
Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mike Bloomberg's anti-chaos theory

CNN's Anderson Cooper questions Joe Biden last night at a drive-in town hall in Moosic, Pa., outside Scranton. Photo: CNN

Mike Bloomberg's $100 million Florida blitz begins today and will continue "wall to wall" in all 10 TV markets through Election Day, advisers tell me.

Why it matters: Bloomberg thinks that Joe Biden putting away Florida is the most feasible way to head off the national chaos we could have if the outcome of Trump v. Biden remained uncertain long after Election Day.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.