tv First Ladies CNN October 18, 2020 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
you can ignore they will. that's entirely up to you. as journalists, we cannot pretend that they are not there shouting from the roof tops. i'll jake tapper in washington. i'll jake tapper in washington. thank you for watching. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com i believe the republican party has a platform that is a banner of bold, unmistakable colors with no pale pastel shades. >> they call it the gaze. a look of adoration so compelling, even the cameras can't break away. >> do i remember the gaze? oh! >> it was a talent. because she looked at him as though he were a god.
>> it was almost hypnotic, that gaze. she just saw in her husband somebody who should be president. >> thank you very much. >> her husband's glory would be their glory. >> the reagans were the first show business family to inhabit the white house. but nancy was more than just ronald reagan's co-star. >> she wanted him to be the front man. and she wanted to be the producer, director behind the scenes. >> how do you feel about that? >> i agree with everything you said. >> he would have never been elected without nancy. he would have never been elected governor without nancy. in return she gave him strength, encouragement, she gave him hell. >> are you asking me? >> i consider nancy to have been in some ways the most powerful, the most influential, the most
indispensable partner in the modern presidency. >> why don't you ask him first? >> do you want to get your story straight? >> we're talking on mrs. vague reagan. we have two more quotes here. would you be a forceful first lady in your opinion? >> oh, i -- it depends what you mean by forceful. >> it's 1980 and with her husband running for president, nancy reagan was in the spotlight. >> i have a feeling president carter doesn't have a foreign policy. >> nancy is tuflt more than an
adoring wife. >> i don't think i'm tough. >> where some see a good wife standing by her man -- >> she's always pushing to make sure that he succeeded. as any good wife would do. >> we can make america great again. >> others see her as the power broker in the relationship. >> all right. go on. the brains behind her husband. you've read that. >> no. my husband is the brains of the family. >> nancy reagan was seen as a retro grade traditional figure. yet, it is hard to think of someone who was just so comfortable with her own power and so unafraid to use it. >> speaking of nancy, she's been the first lady in my life for a long time. >> nancy davis and ronald reagan met in hollywood in 1949. nancy was an ambitious young actress. >> nancy arrived in hollywood
during is the time of the red scare. there was a lot of concern that communists were infiltrating hollywood. >> she sees the name nancy davis on a list of supposed communist sympathizers. this was a career killer. >> so she went to her director and he said, look. i have a good friend, ronnie reagan, the president of the screen actor's guild, look into this for you. >> he says no, it's another nancy davis. don't worry. we'll stand behind her. but nancy says, you need engineer a chance for me to meet him face to face. >> ronald reagan, ten years nancy's senior, was a well known actor and a staunch anti-communi anti-communist. >> i think the list was a pretext to get to know ronald reagan who was now a divorcee. >> they made it sound like they got married a week later. but he was still playing the field after his disastrous
divorce from jane wyman. it was really three years later before they actually tied the knot. >> their wedding was also hastened by the fact that she discovered that she was pregnant. >> on that spring day in 1952, nancy set aside her hollywood dreams to take on the role of mrs. ronald reagan. >> they needed each other. they made each other possible. and they played on the world stage together very well. >> i vague reagan do solemnly swear -- >> almost 30 years later, nancy holds the bible as her husband is sworn in. it is the first inauguration to be held on the west side of the capitol closer to california. >> i will to the best of my ability -- >> it was very glamorous and very hollywood. >> all these social people with their fur coats and their big jewelry. i think something like 700 corporate and private jets
landed over the weekend. >> she wanted him in a morning suit and she was in a very expensive dress. so yeah, it might have been a little overdone but nancy did it her way. >> watching the new first lady so comfortable and elegant on the world stage, few could imagine how far she had traveled to get here. >> nancy was born in 1921 in flushing, queens. >> her mother was an actress named edith luckette. her father was kenneth robins. a sort of aimless car salesman. >> they divorced when she was quite small. the mother struggled for two years. nancy would be in a bassinet backstage and finally she realized, this wasn't working. >> so she leaves nancy with relatives in bethesda, maryland. and thus begins a six-year period where her mother
essentially abandoned her. >> 3 years old is not the age when you want to see your mother driving off to the big city, leaving you behind. >> when nancy was 8, hadder mother settled down and married a distinguished neuro surgeon. nancy joined the couple in chicago. >> there for the first time in her life, she does get a sense of security. she also learned to navigate the social elite. >> nancy's mother loved social life. she would organize the dinner party with the top will doctors, the mayor of chicago who was also a democrat. the governor of illinois who was always republican. >> this couple comes out of nowhere and becomes a couple that everyone in chicago has to pay attention to. >> she always said to me, a lot of things happen at dinner parties, bob. that was a lesson that she carried to washington. >> ladies and gentlemen, the
president of the united states and mrs. reagan. >> president reagan and first lady nancy made the rounds in washington to a series of inaugural balls. >> there are ten of these. you are number seven. we're going to get to all of. they no. number eight. >> after dancing their way through nine vip balls, the reagans finally make it back to their new home. nancy recalls that night in her memoir. >> as i close my eyes, i remember thinking, my lord, here we are. sleeping in the white house. and here i am, sleeping with the president of the united states. but i found out the hard way that nothing, nothing prepares you for being first lady. before we talk about tax-smart investing, what's new?
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the reagans now live in one of the most famous homes in the world. their every move under scrutiny. fortunately this is something they've both trained for. >> good evening. i am ronald reagan speaking for general electric trick. >> in 1954 two years into their marriage, reagan signed on to host a new have the have the show called general electric trick theater. >> once upon a time there was a girl and a boy who fell in love with her. >> you know, nancy, we'll see patty later on. >> it was meant to be the show house for general electric
trick. appliances and lights and everything. we had more switches and gadgets in that house than could you shake a stick at. most of which we never used. >> it is too complicated for me but do i know that our heat pump is amazing and wonderful. >> my sister had more of the ge commercial. >> there is another one you ought to know. >> i got a little more of the crest toothpaste commercial. >> come meet the younger members of the reagan family. >> i'm patty. >> now the reagans have a new family home. but nancy is disappointed to find it needs a little work. >> floors and doors needed refinishing, the plumbing system needed repair. >> there was a lot of mold on the walls in the private residence. >> some of the curtains were rotted through from the sun. >> it was shameful. the carters wouldn't spend any money and she knew how to make it right. >> nancy turns to private donors
seeking tax deductible contributions. >> she caught a lot of flak for it. >> nancy tried to be jacky kennedy this is white house. the '80s were not the '60s. >> nancy did all of this against a back drop plunging into a recession. >> names are on the list of donors. >> the biggest checks come from people nagsy has known since the reagans first entered politics. >> they were all from california. and they were all her friends. >> she knew what she was doing. these women all had husbands who were not only powerful but conservative republicans. >> she had become sort of a queen bee of the set. and that becomes very important when her husband starts to launch a political career. >> you and i have a rendezvous with destiny. >> nancy's friends were
impressed. they come and say you've got to run for governor. >> you believe in your right to control your own destiny. >> she was involved never campaign meeting from the first and stewart spencer said she had in a way better political instincts than him. >> her modus operandi was this. we do campaigning. and eight clog in the morning she would call her friends and get the feedback. you have to do this and that. ronnie has to do this and that. >> women have more time to devote to politics. obviously, their husbands are working. >> in some ways, she wanted to win more than he did. >> her work paid off. the hollywood power couple became the first couple. >> he became a hell of a politician with her help.
>> to show how well they're settling into washington, the reagans take a stroll across lafayette park. >> i remember, i had the news. on i thought, this is great. the reagan there's get out. they won't be in a bubble. we're off to a great start. and then lo and behold the next day -- >> we were at that hospital in three minutes. and she went racing toward the door. >> in her memoir, nancy,confusion and fear. >> i stammered, where? where was he hit? >> they don't know. they're looking for the bullet. looking for the bullet? i have to see him, i said. wait, they're working on him. >> i was holding her hand. i kept saying, it's going to be all right. it's going to be all right. she was just lost somewhere. she was in shock.
>> the secret service came and told us that shots had been fired. go upstairs. turn on the tv and there is the scene being played out. >> the president has gone to george washington university hospital. as has first lady nancy reagan. >> we got a lear jet. she was terrified that she was about to lose her husband. and then they wiehled him out and he looked pretty did for a guy who was shot nearly in the heart. >> in our top story, president reagan's temperature is back to normal today. he continues to make satisfactory recovery. >> the president recovers. but the scars will stay with nancy for years to come. >> the impact of the shooting never left nancy reagan. having seen how close he came to dying, she determined she wouldn't let that happen again. >> it then became a problem whenever he went out. >> somebody could come out of
nowhere. bullets could fly out of nowhere. washington seemed a darker place. >> and this of course leads to the famous astrology business, which i'm sure you would have gotten to eventually. this astrologer lets her know, i could have predicted this. i knew that was not a good day for him to be out of the house. >> is the plane going to take off for europe at 3:00 a.m. sunday or 7:00 p.m. saturday? those kinds of decisions were put to the astrologer. >> the problem of course was, in retrospect, she was telling someone who didn't have security clearance about his schedule. >> she was very scared. and she had some crutches that she needed. >> nancy's consultations with her astrologier are kept secret from all but her inner most circle. they would continue for many years.
>> in all the time i worked with her, i never, ever knew about the astrologer. none of us did. >> but the astrologer wasn't the only person nancy was calling. >> i learned early on that i needed to keep her informed about everything. somehow through her network, and her network was extensive, she would hear. >> she was the classic old-fashioned, almost corporate wife who did everything behind the scenes. and the telephone was her sort of weapon of choice. >> she once joked to me that she wanted to be buried with the phone. just in case. >> she didn't go down to the cabinet room and sit in on the meetings. she didn't go into the oval office and take part in a dialogue. but she was watching from above. >> she would ask questions. what happened here?
what went wrong here? what are we doing about this? she stepped up when she saw things were going the wrong direction for her husband. >> if you valued your life, you didn't want nancy reagan coming after you with a hatchet. you might lose something. >> she basically started calling me about two things. one, to discourage ron from giving up his secret service detail. she said gadhafi and the puerto rican liberation front were trying to kidnap him. and why does the press hate me so much? >> nancy knows how to keep the people around him in line. but journalists in washington are a whole other beast. now, staying home isn't just staying in the place they love. it's staying safe. home instead. to us, it's personal. ♪
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a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! during her first year in the white house, nancy seems to be in a constant battle with the press. >> they were used to getting hollywood attention. politics brings a different kind of attention. a different kind of scrutiny. >> the white house disclosed today the president's wife does not own all of her clothing. >> i got a heads up that it was coming. i walked down to the oval office. and i explained you might want to give nancy a heads up. and he looked mat he and said, why don't you tell her?
and she was livid. and i said, you have to go through your wardrobe and start picking out some of these dresses and return them. >> she borrowed and still has not returned more than 100,000 worth of jewelry. >> there are very strict regulations over reporting gifts. and nancy really didn't feel like she always had to follow the rules. >> the camera's eye focused on her lavish redecoration of the living quarters and her $209,000 set of china. >> it was nancy has to have this and nancy has to have that. she took a real beating. >> i would get to work in the morning and i would read some dreadful piece on the front page of the "new york times," or the "washington post" about, mrs. reagan. and i would be almost stock my stomach. >> the president and the first lady generally don't both get bad press simultaneously. they kind of take turns. and nancy really was the
lightning rod. and that enabled ronnie to play the doting, protective husband which played well in the media. >> no one would say how many items mrs. reagan received. >> in her memoir, nancy admits that the attacks got to her. >> everything did i or said was instantly open to criticism. my clothes, my friends, my taste in decorating. the way i looked at my husband. >> let's set that straight once and for all. nancy has taken a bit of a bum rap. >> reporter: these stories not only hurt. they also made me damn mad. >> she was turning into a political liability. >> nancy was never popular with the press because she didn't trust the press. she didn't like the press. she was very controlled. and that is not unusual for
someone from hollywood. they learned very early on not to say anything. >> you're rate hurt by some of the press that you've been getting. i mean, hurt. >> yes. >> i guess what you really want for christmas is for the press to take a fresh look at you. >> that would be nice. >> to turn the tide of hatred, nancy tries a new tactic. >> she was scheduled to speak at the al smith dinner back in new york. >> there is now a picture post card of me as queen. now, that's silly because i would never wear a crown. it messes up your hair. >> the room went nuts. they just had a ball. >> she had seemed so icy and so unapproachable. that was a brilliant move.
>> it demonstrated that she had a sense of humor about herself. which i don't think she did. but it did the trick. >> now she needs a cause to get behind. >> i asked her what she was interested in being involved in. and she said youth drug abuse. and i remember at the time thinking, that is sort of a downer. >> i'm saying that if you're a casual drug user, you're an accomplice to murder. >> it was a way to push back against the '60s. feminism, rock 'n' roll, smoking pot, clearly something was very wrong here. and needs to be put right. >> tonight there is something special to talk about and i've asked someone very special to join me. nancy? >> thank you. >> today there is a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in this country and no one is safe from it. because it is aimed at destroying the brightness and life of the sons and daughters of the united states. >> did all of you start first on
pot? >> there is no more middle ground. >> she is making drug abuse her personal crusade. >> indifference is not an option. >> telling kids to stay off drugs. stay in school. >> what should you do when someone offers you drugs? >> when it comes the drugs and alcohol -- >> just say no! >> it is almost like saying, if you remain celibate, you won't get a convenient venereal disease. too simplistic. >> just say no and throw people in prison. >> what a waste, what a wasted life. >> there was of course, the irony that her two kids certainly had smoked pot. so none of. was particularly popular with me. >> though it is true that every first lady needs to have a cause, in my view, nancy's chosen cause was her husband.
>> good morning. >> go out and talk to the press about something that was very, very difficult. we worked it out with nancy to get a birthday cake. when it got to the point, we're in deep water. let's get him out of here. >> we are at 7%. ♪ happy birthday to you >> and two days early. aren't they coming fast enough without moving it up? >> make a wishful. >> two years into his first term, the question of whether the 72-year-old president should run again is on everyone's mind. >> maybe this would be a good time for to you tell him whether you think he should run again. >> oh, no. >> the nancy, the protector in chief, won't show her hand. >> how would you like a piece of cake, sam? >> she was worried about his physical safety. he was in his mid 70s. he had been shot and nearly
killed. i asked him not to run. >> here, take mine. >> no, no, no. that's bad luck. >> my view is that nancy reagan would have been very happy to go home after one term. think back on their successes. and look ahead to the future. >> i have learned not to argue with her superstitions. >> but i think she also realize that had president reagan's work was not done. >> of course he's going to run and he's going to win and she's not going to take that away from him. a live bookkeeper is helping
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1984 election. the reagans are on vacation at their ranch. a report he asks the president about a potential meeting with the soviets. >> doing everything we can. >> and it took some prompting from wife nancy for the president to acknowledge -- >> that was her being his protector. him stumbling for the right words. and taking a pause and her feeling that the pause was uncomfortable. >> with the election if full swing, the president's age has become a major issue. >> he was the oldest president ever at that point. >> he was slowing down. and she was right by his side trying to, you know, keep it all afloat. >> president reagan's challenger is former vice president walter
mondale. a relative youngster at 56. >> famously his first debate with walter mondale did not go well. >> to try to say that we were taxing the rich and not the other way around -- >> he seemed kind of out of sorts, slow. >> the system is still where it was with regard to -- the -- >> he stumbled and fumbled and that was because his debate preparation was just too detail oriented. too many numbers, too many facts. >> he did not do any of his homework. so he stunk. >> i thought i'm glad i'm not in louisville. somebody will have to deal with nancy reagan tonight. she wanted heads, she wanted bodies, she wanted it all.
>> nance country is describes her reaction in her memoir. there was no way around it. the debate was a nightmare. >> what have you done to my husband? i said to mike at the hotel. whatever it was, don't do it again. >> as she would say all the time, you need let ronnie be ronnie. just let ronaldie believe ronnie. he knows what to do. >> the second debate came around. he had done some reading, he rested up, he walked in and he mastered. i. >> i will not make age an issue of this campaign. i am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience. >> at that point the debate was over. and in many ways, the election was over.
>> reagan carries an unprecedented 49 states in the '84 election. and nancy's eye goes toward securing his legacy. >> in 1997, i asked her, was there some area that you felt you had an effect? and she said, oh, no, no. ronnie knew exactly what he wanted to do from the moment he was elected. then she paused and very, very softly added, well, maybe the whole russian thing. and i was like, the whole russian thing some you mean the main thing of his administration? >> we will meet with the soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to rid the world of a threat of nuke destruction. >> he had a lot of people on his right saying, arms control is only for fools and don't get into negotiation. the soviets will always cheat you. she was much more main stream. she didn't want her husband going down in history has the
man many built this huge arsenal and possibly touched off a war. >> she believed very much in reagan's slogan. peace and strength. she felt they had double the strength side. it was time to do the peace side. >> in november 1985 the moment finally arrives. the u.s. and soviet leaders to meet for the first time since the start of the cold war. >> reagan had his team on his side of the table. nancy knew that wasn't enough. she knew that ronnie was going to be best one-on-one along with gorbachev as much as she could get him. so she said, honey, what you really ought to do is take gorbachev for a walk. >> president reagan proposed the two leaders walked from the 18th century villa they were meeting in to a village on the edge of the lake. >> they decided they didn't even need to go into the group meeting. they had made so much head way
alone. >> general even a was an incredible break through. on the policy but also the personal relationship. you could tell there was a chemistry between two of them that began that day. >> everything happens the way nancy reagan had planned it. it was a great summit. she had her finger prints all over it. >> the bond forged in generva that effectively ends the cold war. just the legacy nancy was after. but this diplomatic triumph is about to be eclipsed by a major scandal. and you're going to find yourself where you need to be. ♪ the race is never over. the journey has no port. the adventure never ends, because we are always on the way. ♪
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(grandma vo) it's the most important thing you can do! in november, 1986 a story breaks. the u.s. government has ben selling arms to iran. apparently in exchange for the release of american hostages. >> reagan never felt it was trading arms for hostages. it was just, we'll send these arms and by the way, if we get our hostages back, at the same time, wouldn't that be good? >> the president said no law has been or will be violated. >> then it is revealed money from the arms sale was used
illegally to send weapons to a right wing rebel group in nicaragua. was to death watch. >> nancy reagan felt the president has not been served well. >> she took it to heart. will they impeach my husband? is this an impeachable offense? >> that's where you see nancy reagan spring into action to rescue her husband. >> she knew i had had the role. it wouldn't be ronnie's. and she had to go after somebody. and that somebody was don regan. >> he had replaced james baker as chief of staff at the start second term. he and nancy did not get along. >> i honestly tried help him be a good chief of staff. like lesson number one, how you handle nancy. he wasn't an ego maniac.
oh, i'd better will listen. >> she had a certain radar. >> if she sniffed out that there was someone in his circle who wasn't 1,000% loyal to ronnie, they were toast. >> she said, you know, jim, we're going to have to make a change here. don regan will have to go. you know, ronnie can't fire anybody. >> he didn't like to get rid of anybody. but she did. she had no hesitation whatsoever. >> it didn't go well. >> the first lady was asked if the president had demanded she get off his back firing him. >> how can the president deal with the soviets if he cannot settle a dispute between his wife and the chief of staff? >> she called me ten times a day to talk about it. >> one day, don regan came down to my office. he looked at me and said, i think i made a big mistake.
and i am, what was that? and he said, well, i was talking to the first lady and she was really pushing me. and i lost my cool and i hung up on her. and i said, don, you what? >> you don't cross her like that. at the end of the day, the president goes back to the living quarters and gets into bed with this personal you just hung up on. and she gets the last word. >> the latest on the strain between mrs. reagan and regan. >> chris wall is leaving the white house one day and nancy reynolds, close to nancy reagan, comes up to him and tells him, do you know don regan hung up on the first lady today knowing that chris wallace then at nbc will go right on the air that night in the newscast and say that. >> and two sources tell me that the chief of staff again hung up
on the first lady. they have not -- >> you didn't hang up on ronald reagan's women. that is is a bad mistake. >> that was curtains for don regan. >> he finally bowed to intense pressure -- >> regan is out. a year later he gets his revenge. regan reveals nancy's best kept secret. the astrologer she's had on her pay roll since the shooting. >> i called the press office right away. what's going on? we think it is a one day story. are you out of your mind? >> reagan is asked if he still allows astrology to play a part in the make-up of his schedule. >>. i can't i never did. >> the president's approval ratings are sinking fast. >> his overall approval rating is down 17% in less than two months. >> nancy believes to win the country back, her husband must apologize for iran-contra.
>> he is resisting admitting the obvious. that he has been trading arms for hostages. she knew she had to get him to this place where he could say what he needed to say to rescue his presidency. >> so many people walk into the oval office and tell president what he wants to know. not what he needs to know. very few people are willing to be the reality therapist. and nancy was willing to do that. >> a few months ago, i told the american people i did not trade arms for hostages. my heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true. but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. >> he gives a speech. he gives at this time way nancy wants it. >> you take your knocks. you learn your lessons and then you move on. >> all of a sudden, you saw the american people going, that's our president. >> and his approval ratings just skyrocket overnight.
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i've been busy with arms control and -- all right the imf treaty and the russians. i actually covered their 1988 visit to moscow. there was a sense of hope that had been missing since the second world war. >> in moscow, the two leaders finalized their nuclear treaty. the highlight of the trip is a dramatic piece of street theater orchestrated by nancy. >> invited him to washington. he walked down connecticut avenue through the throngs of people. >> it was great footage.
it took the show that day. >> the guy is a pr genius. >> nancy found that -- >> once in moscow, nancy reveals her plan. >> we got to the house and nancy and i shared with the president the idea and it was "sounds good to me." let's run it past the secret service and the secret service said absolutely not. so i went to the president and mrs. reagan in the bedroom. nancy is lying on the bed with her feet on the pillows propped up. reagan is walking around the bedroom. secret service they're making their case. they're saying if you the reagans go where we want to go a that you cannot protect them? and the lead person said, "no, that's not what they're saying". nancy sat up and said, fine,
let's go. we went to the place which is a shopping area. >> all of a sudden it was full much people applauding and cheering. >> they all wanted to see. >> they were nervous as all get out. >> nancy spotted some old carriage sitting there and she grabbed reagan's hand and pulled him on the carriage. >> after decades of this frozen relationship between the two super powers, to see this american president arms held out for the poor soviet people who have never been anywhere near an american president, much less one that looked like ronald
reagan. it made the gulf war seem like ancient history. >> we got our footage. nancy just took over. i thought, wow, she never ceases to impress me. >> some things i'll be glad -- [ laughter ] >> we'll miss you. >> i thought you'd never say that. >> and just like that, eight years are over. the reagans leave the white house flying high. the oldest u.s. president has survived an assassination attempt and a major scandal. he will go down in history as a peacemaker. all under the eye of the first lady. >> on the last trip, the administration back home to california on the floor of air
force one, sam donaldson, bill clancey of cbs were all three collaborating to write the last full report of the reagan years. and who was overseeing it as they were typing on the floor? not the president. nancy! >> it's been eight years but a big chunk of your life you've been the first couple in the white house. all the important stuff swirling around you every day. now that's going to go away. and you will leave the stage. she said we thought we have our golden years. we would reminisce about, you know, our lives.
sorry. >> so then they leave and within four years, yeah, four years. he's been diagnosed with alzheimer's. he now has dementia, you know. that's a whole different phase of their life, of course. now she's not going to be fancy nancy anymore. she's going to be this new character, you know, and so just continued through the rest of her life. >> when nancy reagan died on march 6th, 2016, tributes came from all corners. her support for her husband through his illness and her work to legalize stem cell research softened her image but her greatest legacy remains, the protective power she wielded for eight years as a formidable first lady. >> when i think of her, i often think of her as a child and frightened. she can be fierce when she
wanted to be. but, yeah, i think tlfsz still a little 3-year-old girl whose mother was gone away. people were frightened and go ahead anyway. that's a certain kind of courage. countdown. as millions of early voters weigh in the two presidential candidates are set for one last debate. >> this is the most important election of our lifetimes. >> can you imagine if i lose? >> is there still time to change the trajectory of the vote? third wave? new coronavirus cases reach their highest level since july as health experts warn americans must buckle down to fight the spread. what do you need to do to be safe? hail mary. the president level smears and