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Michelle Obama on Trump's actions in office: "Yes, it is racist."

Michelle Obama is making her closing argument for Joe Biden this morning, arguing that President Trump has mismanaged the pandemic while "stoking fears about Black and Brown Americans."

The big picture: In a video message, the former first lady, who remains wildly popular in the Democratic party, testifies to Biden's personal qualities while sharply criticizing Trump's handling of the racial unrest that has been roiling the country. .

  • Trump is "lying about how minorities will destroy the suburbs… whipping up violence and intimidation," Obama said.
  • "So what the president is doing is, once again, patently false… it’s morally wrong… and yes, it is racist. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work." 

Why it matters: Michelle motivates voters across the Democratic party and was a cut above other speakers at the Democratic convention in August, generating 5 times as much social interaction than any other speaker, including former president Barack Obama, according to Axios' Neal Rothchild.

Flashback: In late August, Obama said that there was "systemic racism" coming from both the White House and elsewhere in the country, when she addressed the racial unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

What she's saying: On the pandemic, Obama said "it didn’t have to be like this," and claimed that "so many other countries aren’t experiencing this level of extended suffering and uncertainty."

  • She called Trump "a man who knew how deadly this virus is, but who lied to us, and told us it would just disappear… who, in the greatest crisis of our lifetimes, doubled down on division and resentment…"

Murkowski says she'll vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Saturday that she'll vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, despite her opposition to the process that's recently transpired.

The big picture: Murkowski's decision leaves Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as the only Republican expected to vote against Barrett.

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Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.

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The murder hornets are here

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.

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Biden is highest-spending political candidate on TV ads

After spending an additional $45.2 million on political ads this week, former Vice President Joe Biden has become the highest-spending political candidate on TV ads ever, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

By the numbers: In total, the Biden campaign has spent $582.7 million on TV ads between 2019 and 2020, officially surpassing Michael Bloomberg's record spend of roughly $582 million. Biden's spend includes his primary and general election advertising.

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SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

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Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.
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America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19

From high levels of obesity and opioid addiction to inequities in access to care, America's pre-existing conditionsmake the country an easy target for COVID-19, as well as future pandemics that could cripple the United States for decades to come.

Why it matters: One of the best ways the country could prepare for future threats — and boost its economy — is to improve Americans' overall health.

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Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

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