Trump, Biden hit key states on final weekend before vote

Published: 1 November 2020, 8:30 AM

Post Desk : Donald Trump, challenger Joe Biden and their top surrogates barreled through crucial states in the industrial Midwest and coastal southeast on Saturday,
pressing closing arguments in a frantic sprint days ahead of the US presidential election.

Using some of his most urgent language yet, Trump warned of “bedlam
in our country” if no clear winner emerges quickly in Tuesday’s
election, saying, without evidence, that it could take weeks to sort
out a result and that “very bad things” could happen in the interim.

Biden meantime told backers it was “time for Donald Trump to pack
his bags and go home.”

Underscoring the high stakes — and the disruptive impact of the
coronavirus pandemic — a record 90 million early votes have already
been cast, as the bruising contest heads toward the biggest turnout in
at least a century.

The virus has killed over 230,000 Americans, ravaged the world’s
largest economy and was infecting record numbers of people across the
US.

The election takes place in a deeply divided country, with feelings
so raw that gun sales have surged in some areas. Businesses in some
cities, including Washington, are protectively boarding windows, and
police are preparing for the possibility of violence.

Trump was focusing Saturday on the key battleground state of
Pennsylvania — “the state where the story of American independence
began,” he said in the small city of Newtown, the first of four stops
in that state amid a frenetic final sprint.

Biden made his first joint appearance of the campaign with his
former boss Barack Obama — probably the most popular Democrat in the
country — in Flint, Michigan as they scramble to boost turnout in a
state Trump carried by a razor-thin margin in 2016.

Vice President Mike Pence was meanwhile campaigning in narrowly
divided North Carolina as Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris was in
Florida, another vitally important swing state.

– ‘Life or death’ –

Pennsylvania has emerged as one of the top prizes this year.

In his motorcade en route to rural Bucks County, the president passed
hundreds of supporters holding up a forest of pro-Trump signs. The
crowd then booed trailing vehicles that were carrying reporters, a
regular target of Trump’s attacks.

Later in Butler, Pennsylvania, he arrived at the biggest rally of
the day so far with well over 5,000 people crammed in — few in masks
but many wearing red Trump hats.

In remarks at an event in Bucks County, Trump lashed out at Biden,
saying he would shut down the state’s fossil-fuel industry.

The president claimed credit for creating the “greatest economy in
the history of this country — the history of the world” — while
“foreign nations are in freefall.”

Despite recent signs of recovery from the virus-induced economic
pain, however, millions remain jobless.

The campaign has been overshadowed by the surging pandemic, which
had even sickened Trump and members of his staff.

More than 94,000 new infections were recorded Friday in the US —
another new high — and total cases passed nine million, according to
data from Johns Hopkins University.

In stark contrast to Trump, who has belittled mask-wearing by Biden
and others, the Democrat has scrupulously followed the guidance of
public health experts.

After Biden and Obama appeared Saturday before a socially distanced
drive-in rally in Flint, they made an unannounced stop in suburban
Bloomfield Hills before heading to Detroit, where they were joined by
superstar singer Stevie Wonder.

Biden leads in the state by nearly seven points, according to a
RealClearPolitics average of polls. The state’s 16 electoral votes
could provide a sizable leap towards the 270 needed to win the White
House.

Trump, in eking out his 2016 victory, took advantage of low turnout
rates among Michigan Blacks. As Biden campaigns with the nation’s
first Black president, he clearly hopes to change that.

Obama pulled few punches in Flint and Detroit, saying 140,000
American lives would have been saved if the president had taken an
approach to the pandemic similar to Canada’s.

“This is not a contest of just calling each other names,” Obama said.

“This isn’t a sporting event. This is life or death.”

Biden said “we’re done with the chaos, the tweets, the anger, the
failure, the refusal to take any responsibility.”

Biden’s campaign announced he will address the nation on election
night from his home base of Wilmington, after a vote that will
undoubtedly leave millions bitterly disappointed, no matter who wins.

– Chasing every vote –

After a campaign largely muted by the pandemic, Biden has taken the
offensive, pushing Trump onto the back foot in unexpected
battlegrounds like Texas, a large, traditionally conservative bastion
now seen as a toss-up.

On Friday, the state reported a staggering nine million residents
had already voted, surpassing its 2016 total.

Harris visited Texas Friday in a bid to turn the state Democratic
for the first time since 1976.

But Trump is racing through an exhausting string of raucous rallies
in the final days and is betting he can pull off another shock result
— like in 2016.

Trump “has done more for this country than any president,” said Jeff
Close, who attended the Trump rally in Reading, Pennsylvania.

“He’s kept his word — promises made, promises kept.”