Syrian Democratic Forces, via AP

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on his way to a NATO meeting in Belgium that the Pentagon's plan in the Syrian conflict is to eventually break up the territory along the Euphrates River into so-called "deconfliction" zones.

  • This shows Mattis is leaving the U.S. strategy open to letting the Assad regime and Iran control territory in the region.
  • Why it matters: This pits Mattis and the Pentagon against some officials in the White House, who are pushing for a fight against Iran for territory after ISIS is rooted out. The Pentagon is sticking to its statement that it doesn't want a fight with pro-regime forces, but the recent escalation of U.S. clashes with pro-regime forces in the region tell a different story.
  • Mattis might be hedging his bets on the strategy and said Tuesday "it's not like the fight's over when Raqqa's over."

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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.