Photo: Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

President Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNBC's Delivering Alpha conference Wednesday morning that he believes that Chinese President Xi Jinping is "holding the game up" on a trade deal with the United States — all while playing down the idea that the two countries are engaged in a trade war.

Our thought bubble from Axios’ Dan Primack: After first giving some lip service to generally opposing blanket tariffs, Kudlow stated "the president is doing exactly the right thing here" and China’s "local party leaders" are similar to "mafioso dons." I’ve had a tough time finding anyone at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen who has amended, or is thinking about amending, their tech investment strategy because of the trade wars.

  • On China: "Look, I'm not a big fan of tariffs, you know that. I don't like blanket tariffs. ... But I have been a long-term critic of China."
  • More on Xi: "So I think he needs to move. We are waiting for him. The ball is in his court. And the tit-for-tat business, which is nobody's favorite path, but nonetheless, they can end that this afternoon, this afternoon, by providing a more satisfactory approach."
  • On inflation and the rising deficit: "No recession in sight. No recession in sight. I just want to make that point. No recession in sight right now."

What's next: "Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of EU, is coming to Washington next week. We will be in discussions. I am told he is bringing a very important free trade offer. Okay. I'm told. I can't confirm that. This is what I'm hearing."

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 12 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 47.1 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 12 days left until Election Day, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting data.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What to expect from the final debate of the 2020 election

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.

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