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STORY BY STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN.COM

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Published on October 21, 2020 11:22 PM

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Trump's campaigning stoops to new lows as Covid cases spike
(CNN)President Donald Trump and the pandemic he is supposed to be fighting are running out of control with the two weeks until Election Day shaping up as among the most ugly and divisive periods ever ahead of a presidential vote.

He's on a fresh collision course with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who's publicly questioning why Trump thinks mask wearing is weak after a wild weekend that saw the President, who's trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls and still playing to his base, pack swing state rallies that flouted his government's Covid-19 protocols.

The latest clash between the top infectious disease specialist and the President came as the pandemic that has already killed more than 219,000 Americans worsened at the start of a feared fall and winter spike that threatens to further damage Trump's reelection. Trump is fighting for his political life campaigning at rallies that are almost the only mass participation events with no social distancing taking place in the US. His attacks are getting more extreme as the election gets closer, as he demands the locking up of his political rivals. He's claiming the election, and Thursday's presidential debate, are rigged against him.

He's demonizing Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was the target of a recently thwarted kidnapping plot. Trying to regain ground in the suburbs, he's using blatantly racist rhetoric to falsely warn White mothers that Democrats want to transform their residential districts with African refugees. This follows Trump's refusal last week to repudiate the QAnon group and his slanderous retweet of an outrageous conspiracy theory that claims Osama bin Laden is alive and Biden and former President Barack Obama might have had SEAL Team Six murdered.

The turbulent atmosphere that is dominating the end game in the presidential duel between Trump and Biden is coming as staggering lines form across the country as voters cast early ballots. As of Sunday evening, more than 27 million ballots had been cast in 45 states and Washington, DC, according to a survey of ballot data by CNN, Edison Research and Catalist. Ballots cast so far represent almost 20% of the more than 136 million total ballots cast in 2016. 'Cloth coverings work'

That there is still a public debate about mask wearing -- a practice that has become routine for millions seven months into the crisis -- reflects the politicized nature of the US response, which is one of the worst in...