Tue, 24 Nov 2020

Trump, Biden Campaign in Battleground States Friday

Voice of America
31 Oct 2020, 05:05 GMT+10

WHITE HOUSE - With just a few days until voters cast the last ballots in the U.S. presidential election, the top candidates are focusing their campaign efforts Friday in four midwestern battleground states.

President Donald Trump on Friday is campaigning in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, while former Vice President Joe Biden visits Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Michigan has 16 electoral votes, Minnesota and Wisconsin have 10 each, and Iowa 6.

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Trump and Biden focused their campaign efforts Thursday on the southeastern state of Florida, which the president won in 2016.

"If Florida goes blue. It's over. It's over," Biden told a drive-in rally outside Broward College, referring to the Democratic Party color.

Biden slams Trump over 'super spreader events'

Biden criticized President Trump for holding packed rallies amid the coronavirus pandemic where most attendees are not wearing masks, calling them "super spreader events." 

The president is "spreading more than just coronavirus. He's spreading division and discord," Biden said at a second drive-in rally later in the day in Tampa that was cut short by a rain shower.

Trump, addressing a large crowd in a stadium parking lot in Tampa, again predicted heavy Republican voter turnout - "a great red wave" - on November 3.  

"We're going to win this election so big. You watch," the president predicted.

Trump had been scheduled to hold another rally later Thursday in North Carolina, but because of "very bad weather," including high winds, the event was postponed until Monday, he told reporters.

Trump touts coronavirus vaccine

Trump, in his speech in Tampa, also said the country would have a vaccine for COVID-19 "in a few weeks," promising that "seniors will be first in line to have it." In Florida, people over the age of 65 this year could comprise about a third of those voting for president.   

In every election since 1996, the winner of Florida has won the presidency. The winner there earns 29 of the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the election.      

According to an average of major polls compiled by the website Real Clear Politics, Biden and Trump are virtually tied in Florida and North Carolina, while the president trails the former vice president in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.   

National polls typically show Biden with a lead of 7 or 8 percentage points over Trump, although the margin is about half that in several key battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome in the Electoral College.      

Americans are voting early for Tuesday's presidential election in unprecedented numbers, a product of strong feelings for or against the two main candidates and a desire to avoid large Election Day crowds at polling stations during the pandemic.    

Unprecedented early voting numbers

More than 80 million people had already voted as of Thursday, well above half of the overall 2016 vote count, which was 138.8 million.   

About two-thirds of America's early voters have mailed in or dropped off their ballots, and the rest voted in person at polling places throughout the country.   

Biden voted Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware, while Trump cast his ballot Saturday at a library in West Palm Beach, Florida, near his Mar-a-Lago resort.      

Voting experts say voter turnout for the contest between the Republican Trump and Democratic challenger Biden could be the highest percentage of the electorate since 1908, when 65% of the country's eligible voters cast ballots.  

Trump election night plans changed

Trump, meanwhile, has canceled plans to appear at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on election night, according to the New York Times, citing a person familiar with the plans.

The person reportedly said Trump would likely instead spend the evening at the White House, despite multiple fundraising solicitations his campaign sent to supporters to attend an election night party at his namesake hotel.

A Trump spokesman declined to comment to the Times about the cancellation, but the president's son, Eric Trump, told Fox News Friday his father is considering shifting his election night celebration from the hotel to the White House. He did not provide a reason.

Friday's Times report did not explain why the plans were changed, but it suggested that a Trump election night appearance at the hotel would likely escalate concerns about him involving the office of the presidency with his personal business affairs.

Moreover, the hotel gathering would be paid for by Trump's campaign, which is grappling with a cash shortage. An event at the hotel would also violate Washington's coronavirus restrictions that prohibit gatherings of over 50 people.

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