After almost entirely avoiding air travel for the last six months and ceding the opportunity to campaign in far-flung swing states, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, will be traversing the map this week in a manner vaguely reminiscent of a normal presidential campaign.
Mr. Biden is due in Michigan on Wednesday, while Ms. Harris will be campaigning on Thursday in Florida. And Jill Biden, the former second lady, will visit Minnesota — a blue-tinted state that President Trump barely lost in 2016.
Of course, their activities on the ground are unlikely to look much like a traditional presidential race, judging by their travels so far. When Mr. Biden visited Pennsylvania on Labor Day, his activities were limited to a socially distanced meeting with workers in a backyard and a virtual town hall hosted from the Harrisburg headquarters of the state A.F.L.-C.I.O. Ms. Harris kept a similarly restrained itinerary in her Monday trip to Milwaukee.
Still, that they are hitting the road at all represents a significant shift in their joint posture — a welcome one for swing-state Democrats who worry that voters are growing impatient with Mr. Biden’s abstemious approach to the trail.
The Republican ticket will be no less active this week, though for Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that is not a departure from the norm. Their campaign has been behaving for some time as though the coronavirus is a fading consideration, holding rallies at airport hangars where social distancing and mask-wearing are hardly the rule.
Mr. Trump starts his week Tuesday visiting Florida and North Carolina and ends it Saturday in Nevada, another state he lost by a small margin in 2016.
In some respects, the mode of campaigning is the message for both tickets: The Democrats have made Mr. Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus the central theme of their general-election campaign, while Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have been promising the pandemic will soon be a thing of the past.
But as always, the political subject of the week remains a question mark until Mr. Trump next speaks. Few in either party expected to spend the end of last week addressing allegations that the president had derided American war dead, and about as many could have predicted that his Labor Day message would include a sharp swipe at Pentagon leaders for allegedly being in league with the arms industry.
Money was supposed to have been one of the great advantages of incumbency for President Trump, much as it was for President Barack Obama in 2012 and George W. Bush in 2004. After getting outspent in 2016, Mr. Trump filed for re-election on the day of his inauguration — earlier than any other modern president — betting that the head start would deliver him a decisive financial advantage this year.
It seemed to have worked. His rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., was relatively broke when he emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee this spring, and Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee had a nearly $200 million cash advantage.
Five months later, Mr. Trump’s financial supremacy has evaporated. Of the $1.1 billon his campaign and the party raised from the beginning of 2019 through July, more than $800 million has already been spent. Now some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch with less than 60 days until the election, according to Republican officials briefed on the matter.
Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager, liked to call Mr. Trump’s re-election war machine an “unstoppable juggernaut.” But interviews with more than a dozen current and former campaign aides and Trump allies, and a review of thousands of items in federal campaign filings, show that the president’s campaign and the R.N.C. developed some profligate habits as they burned through hundreds of millions of dollars.
Since Bill Stepien replaced Mr. Parscale in July, the campaign has imposed a series of belt-tightening measures that have reshaped initiatives, including hiring practices, travel and the advertising budget.
Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, on Monday called on the Postal Service’s board of governors to suspend Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, while she investigates allegations that he asked former employees to make campaign contributions to Republicans and gave them bonuses to defray the cost.
“If these allegations are true, Mr. DeJoy could face criminal exposure — not only for his actions in North Carolina, but also for lying to our committee under oath,” Ms. Maloney said in a statement. “We will be investigating this issue, but I believe the board of governors must take emergency action to immediately suspend Mr. DeJoy, who they never should have selected in the first place.”
Ms. Maloney’s committee on Wednesday issued a subpoena for documents she said Mr. DeJoy had withheld from Congress related to mail delays and communications with the Trump campaign. Since then, Mr. DeJoy, a Republican megadonor and onetime executive of a shipping company based in North Carolina, New Breed Logistics, has been accused of cultivating an environment at his former company that left employees feeling pressured to make donations to Republican candidates, and rewarded them with bonuses for doing so.
The practice was described to The New York Times by three former employees at New Breed Logistics who said that workers would receive bonuses if they donated to candidates he supported, and that it was expected that managers would participate. A fourth employee confirmed that managers at the company were routinely solicited to make donations. The four former employees spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional retaliation.
The former employees did not say how explicit Mr. DeJoy was about linking the campaign contributions he was encouraging to the extra compensation, but three of them said it was widely believed that the bonuses were meant to reimburse the political donations, an allegation first reported by The Washington Post.
Federal campaign finance law bars straw-donor schemes, in which an individual reimburses someone else to donate to a political campaign in order to skirt contribution limits. But it is legal to encourage employees to make donations, as Mr. DeJoy routinely did.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has called for the North Carolina attorney general to investigate the allegations. At a hearing last month, Mr. DeJoy angrily denied a suggestion by Representative Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, that he had reimbursed his employees’ political donations.
“That’s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it,” Mr. DeJoy responded. “What are you accusing me of?”A spokesman for Mr. DeJoy has insisted that he followed federal and local laws.
The unofficial Labor Day start to the fall presidential campaign centered around Wisconsin on Monday, as Vice President Mike Pence tried to poach Democrats in La Crosse and Senator Kamala Harris sought to rally the Democratic base in Milwaukee.
The vice president, joined by Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, was hoping to appeal to the white working-class voters along the state’s western border who supported Democrats for a generation before helping tip the state to Mr. Trump by less than a percentage point in 2016.
Standing before a group of employees at a regional utility company, Mr. Pence trumpeted the administration’s work on behalf of dairy farmers, claimed credit for the state’s booming economy before the coronavirus crisis and repeatedly attacked Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris by name.
While he acknowledged that the use of force by law enforcement should be “thoroughly investigated,” Mr. Pence did not refer to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., instead focusing on the violent aftermath of the shooting, much as Mr. Trump did in his visit there.
In his own trip there last week, Mr. Biden met with the Blake family, as Ms. Harris did Monday upon arriving in Milwaukee.
She also met with union workers as well as Black business owners and pastors in the city, where Democratic turnout dipped four years ago and aided Mr. Trump’s victory.
“We have to get this done, I need your help in Milwaukee,” Ms. Harris told supporters lined up to greet her on the sidewalk, encouraging them to vote early.
For his part, Mr. Biden spent the day in Pennsylvania. At a stop in Lancaster, Pa., Mr. Biden promised that he would be “the best friend labor has ever had in the White House” and criticized Mr. Trump for treating the stock market as representative of the whole economy.
Mr. Biden also said that Mr. Trump was politicizing the process of developing a coronavirus vaccine in an attempt to rush one out by Election Day. He said he would get a vaccination tomorrow if scientists said it was safe and effective, but added, “One of the problems with playing with politics is he’s said so many things that aren’t true, I’m worried if we do have a really good vaccine, people are going to be reluctant to take it. He’s undermining public confidence.”
President Trump, meanwhile, stayed in Washington and called a news conference at the White House, where he defended himself for a fifth straight day following a report in The Atlantic that he had ridiculed America’s war dead.
Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire will decide Tuesday which challenger will take on the Republican governor, Chris Sununu, in November in what is expected to be one of the country’s most competitive governor’s races.
They will choose between Dan Feltes, the majority leader of the State Senate, and Andru Volinsky, a member of the five-person executive branch governing body known as the Executive Council. Mr. Volinsky has been endorsed by progressive groups and Senator Bernie Sanders.
Mr. Sununu won his seat in 2017 by less than three percentage points and is favored for re-election.
Tuesday’s primary will also set up a key Senate contest in New Hampshire, where Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, is seeking a third term. Four Republican candidates are vying to challenge her. Corky Messner — the founder of a law firm and a former Army Ranger endorsed by President Trump — is favored.
In one of the state’s two House races, New Hampshire Republicans will decide whether to nominate Matt Mowers, a candidate also endorsed by Mr. Trump, to run against the incumbent Democrat, Representative Chris Pappas. Mr. Mowers has been within the Trump orbit, serving as a White House adviser at the State Department and in the 2016 Trump campaign; he was also previously the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party.
Hillary Clinton defeated Mr. Trump in New Hampshire four years ago by less than 3,000 votes.
Rhode Island is also holding Senate and House primaries on Tuesday. Some of the races are uncontested, and Democratic incumbents are widely expected to hold the Congressional seats in the general election.
During a Labor Day news conference outside the White House, President Trump unleashed a personal screed against his rival for president and criticized a reporter for asking him a question while wearing a mask.
“The issue of what happened when you were in France continues to be a story —” the reporter, Jeff Mason of Reuters, began.
The president cut him off.
“You’re going to have to take that off, please,” Mr. Trump said. “Just, you can take it off, you’re — how many feet are you away?”
Mr. Mason declined to comply. “I’ll speak a lot louder,” he said.
“Well,” Mr. Trump said, “if you don’t take it off, you’re very muffled, so if you would take it off would be a lot easier.”
Mr. Mason raised his voice further.
“I’ll just speak a lot louder. Is that better?”
“It’s better, yeah, it’s better,” Mr. Trump said, sounding exasperated.
A little later, another reporter took his mask off as he prepared to ask Mr. Trump a question.
“Based on some of your recent tweets, sir,” he began.
Mr. Trump interrupted again, this time to praise the reporter.
“You sound so clear, as opposed to everybody else where they refuse,” he said.
Mr. Trump spent much of the rest of the news conference insulting his opponents and airing grievances. He called former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. a “stupid person” and dismissed Senator Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden’s running mate, as “not a competent person” whom he predicted would never serve as president.
Mr. Trump, who has been hoping that an October announcement of a vaccine to treat the coronavirus could help his electoral chances in November, said that Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris were spreading “reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric” because they have raised questions about his political motivations for an accelerated timeline.
“Contrary to all of the lies, Biden wants to surrender our country to the virus,” Mr. Trump claimed. “He wants to surrender our families to the violent left-wing mob, and he wants to surrender our jobs to China. Our jobs and economic well-being.”
“Biden doesn’t have a clue,” he said. “You know he doesn’t have a clue. In prime time he wasn’t good, and now it is not prime time.”
Mr. Trump said of Ms. Harris, “she will never be president,” and accused her of “disparaging a vaccine so that people don’t think the achievement was a great achievement.”
Mr. Trump also defended himself against allegations that he had privately referred to American troops killed in combat as “losers” and “suckers.” He suggested the accusations came from Pentagon leaders, whom he described as war profiteers.
“They want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs, who make the planes, and make everything else stay happy,” Mr. Trump said of the officers he commands, making no mention of his own choice for defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, who was an executive at the defense contractor Raytheon.
The broadside, coming after current and retired officers have been notably quiet about claims that the president described those killed in action as “losers,” only added more fuel to an explosive story line that many Republicans want Mr. Trump to put behind him.