The Countdown: Lil Wayne, Paul Rudd and the fight for the last votes


Four days until election day, and Lil Wayne has caused a bit of a backlash. Meanwhile, Joe Biden wrote to South Korea.

The news in four sentences

Image source, Reuters

1. In the baking heat of Florida, where Republicans are catching up with Democrats in early voting, Donald Trump and Joe Biden held two very different kinds of rally.

2. Everybody is chasing the 32-million strong Latino vote - the Trump campaign unveiled new ads in Spanish and Kamala Harris is campaigning in south Texas, where Democrats hope to win more Hispanic votes.

3. "Drink water and don't be racist," congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told Republican critics who complained that she wore expensive clothes for a Vanity Fair photo shoot - she said she didn't get to keep the clothes.

4. Actor Paul Rudd handed out cookies to New Yorkers waiting in the rain to vote - it delighted the queue, as well as most on social media.

Lil Wayne and the black vote

Lil Wayne, an influential rapper, met with Donald Trump about his Platinum Plan for black communities. He said the president "listened".

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It is being treated as an endorsement and sparked a backlash. Our reporter Cache McClay explains how understanding the diversity of the black vote is important for all parties:

Some conservatives have pointed to support from a few black rappers as a sign of change, but Ice Cube, who also backed the Platinum Plan, kept his political distance and 50 Cent rowed back his Trump "endorsement". So if Republicans want more than the 8% of the black vote they got in 2016, they will have do more than appease a few black (some would argue tone-deaf) celebrities.

Some black women chimed into this debate on social media. Many feel they have historically carried a heavy burden when it comes to mobilising and voting. After Ice Cube, one scholar wrote: "Black men are breaking my heart with this caping for Cube-cum-Trump."

Demographics are certainly changing and you do see some more support for Trump among young minorities, new research shows.

But Lil Wayne was at the centre of another storm just before the last presidential election, when he said that being "young, black [and] rich" showed black lives do matter.

The lesson? The backlash comes when celebrities use their platform to speak to the "black vote", when many in the community feel their voices don't count and the black vote itself is not a monolith. Every party can learn from this.

Biden wrote an op-ed in South Korea ... huh?

Joe Biden's campaign went to... South Korea, where he wrote for news agency Yonhap. Our Seoul correspondent Laura Bicker - who also covered the 2016 US presidential election - puts the pieces together:

What is his game? This was a bit of a surprise, maybe even a first for a US presidential candidate, but Joe Biden's opinion piece may prove to be a smart piece of campaigning.

Image source, EPA

"Words matter and a president's words matter even more," he wrote. It's a contrast with Donald Trump who has called for Seoul to pay more towards the cost of US troops there (and even reportedly called South Koreans "terrible people" at one dinner party).

Is this about foreign policy or getting votes? A bit of both.

He said he would work to "safeguard peace" and won't make reckless threats to remove troops. Kim Jong-un doesn't get a name check but Mr Biden said he would work towards a "denuclearised Korean peninsula".

Image source, Reuters

He shows he is a bit of a charmer with a sign-off that read "Katchi Kapshida", Korean for "we go together" and a warm slogan for US and South Korean forces. There are about 1.8m Korean-Americans, so not the largest Asian American votebank.

He didn't mention BTS? Mr Biden doesn't show off any K-pop references, but will be aware of the growing influence of Korean culture. But simply reaching out to a Korean audience is the kind of flattery they have not felt from Washington for some time.

Correction 30 October2020: We mistakenly used a picture of a rapper that was not Lil Wayne.