Oct 22, 2020

Axios PM

Good evening: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 550 words, a 2.5-minute read.

  • Later tonight: I'll be sending a special Axios Thought Bubble with instant analysis after the debate.
1 big thing: Trump plans to focus on "the big guy"

The audience view of tonight's debate stage at Belmont University in Nashville. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

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, Jonathan Swan tells me.

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.

  • The team has a message for him: Let Joe Biden talk — he’s not good at talking!
  • They want him to smile more, be lighter, and pick his moments to attack rather than attacking constantly for 90 minutes and turning off viewers.

Former VP Joe Biden's team wants to keep up the pressure on Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Alexi McCammond reports.

  • The Biden campaign didn’t lay out directly how they might respond to attacks related to the Hunter emails, but they previewed it by dismissing it as Russian disinformation. 
  • Biden might press Trump on his "60 Minutes" interview — which Trump released today ahead of it airing on CBS — that features the president saying "I hope they end" the Affordable Care Act.
  • "Whichever version of Trump shows up tonight, nothing will change the impact his erratic, chaotic presidency has had on the American people," said Kate Bedingfield, Biden campaign manager, on a call with reporters.

Between the lines: A producer from the Commission on Presidential Debates will have the ability to mute microphones during the opening parts of each of tonight's six segments.

  • Trump interrupted Biden 71 times during the last debate, while Biden interrupted Trump 22 times.

One Trump adviser said he pushed the president to hammer Biden repeatedly on the economy — how he’ll raise your taxes, increase regulations and go to war against fracking. 

  • The bottom line: None of Trump’s advisers expressed any great confidence he would do any of this, but said they remained hopeful.
An official walks past seats that are marked as off limits to encourage social distancing. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

The debate starts at 9 p.m. EST on NBC, moderated by Kristen Welker.

2. Pic du jour
Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Fog rises off the Hudson River as the sun rises behind lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in New York City.

Bonus: Chart du jour
Data: ATTOM Data Solutions; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios
3. Catch up quick
  1. France has become the second country in Western Europe to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases. Go deeper.
  2. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court despite a boycott by Democratic senators.
  3. A Minnesota judge dropped the third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, but he kept the higher charge, KARE 11 reports.
4. 1 fun thing: Arenas serve their civic duty

Early voting booths at the Amway Center, the home arena of the Orlando Magic. Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pro sports venues are playing a huge role in helping people vote this fall.

  • Florida has early voting at venues used by the NBA’s Orlando Magic, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the AP notes.

Why it matters: Athletes had a huge role in making this happen, particularly the NBA, whose players went on a three-day strike during the playoffs that got the league to back a plan to encourage voting.

  • More than half of NBA and NFL teams have made their facilities available for early voting, with some arenas able to handle thousands of voters a day, AP notes.

The bottom line: It's good to see these arenas, which are often subsidized by taxpayers, used for the common good.