President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. crisscrossed two key northern battlefield states on Saturday in a series of campaign stops with Election Day just three days away.
Mr. Trump had scheduled four rallies across Pennsylvania, starting with one in Bucks County and ending in Montoursville, while Mr. Biden appeared in Flint, Mich., Intending to visit Detroit more late.
The two states were part of the so-called “blue wall” – Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – that swayed Democrats in the recent national election, but was crucial to Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton.
Mr Trump has struggled in all three states throughout the 2020 campaign and is insisting that one of the three be on his card this year, in an election cycle marked by a coronavirus pandemic and economic recession.
In Bucks County, Mr. Trump gave a low-key speech, speaking first from the teleprompter, to several hundred people seated in folding chairs arranged in a field in front of a stage and podium.
“A great red wave is forming,” Mr. Trump said, showing little energy he does when speaking in front of thousands of people at large gatherings. “As sure as we are here together, this red wave is forming. They see it from all sides and there is nothing they can do about it.
At one point, the president – who is hoping for either a clear victory for himself or a close result he can fight in court – claimed Pennsylvania’s results would not be clear on election day.
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“So you’re going to watch November 3. I think it’s highly likely that you won’t have a decision because Pennsylvania is very big,” Mr. Trump said. “We are going to wait. November 3 is going to come and go, and we won’t know. And you are going to have chaos in our country.
The President’s first speech took place in a field in front of the farm where George Washington planned to cross the Delaware River. The small crowd sat side by side, mostly unmasked. Unlike what it has done at its other rallies, Mr. Trump’s campaign has not placed strong supporters in a position behind him.
The president has criticized Mr Biden’s business practices in a state hit hard in recent years by job losses and after this year’s economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
“For decades, they’ve targeted your steel plants, shut down your factories, and sent millions of your jobs overseas, all while lining their pockets with special interests,” Mr. Trump said. “No one embodies this betrayal and betrayal more than Joe Biden.”
Mr. Trump’s teleprompter appeared to have trouble at one point, but for the first 45 minutes of his appearance, the president tried to stick to a speech that seemed designed to portray him in a more “presidential light”. , Avoiding some of the defensive explosions that were at the heart of his rallies.
But then he seemed to lose interest in the speech and started talking about Mr Biden’s son Hunter, his own media coverage and the injustice he thinks the coverage was of his administration’s handling of. the coronavirus pandemic.
He mocked Mr Biden for wearing sunglasses and dismissed his Democratic rival as simply a puppet of the Liberal Democrats in Congress.
And he continued a long impromptu riff on ventilator production by his administration as he downplayed concerns about the coronavirus even as the country surpassed 90,000 new cases a day, with hospitalizations on the rise. He insisted that “we are turning the round” and said that a vaccine to “end the pandemic once and for all” would be ready within a few weeks.
“We have done an incredible job. At some point, they’re going to admit it, ”Mr. Trump said after mocking Mr. Biden for focusing too much on the virus. “We did an A-plus job. I’m giving myself a D, or maybe an F, in terms of public relations. Mr Trump tried to correct an ad-lib for a speech he gave on Friday in which he baselessly accused doctors of trying to profit from coronavirus deaths. On Saturday, he said of Mr Biden’s concerns about the pandemic: “We agree, we agree that this is serious,” but added that “his rival’s only plan is to do of you a prisoner at home, a prisoner in your own country ”.
He fabricated a chain of events in which Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota and a favorite progressive target of Mr. Trump, would oversee national security if Mr. Biden wins. And he referred to the voter turnout operation the Republican Party has been building over the past 18 months, saying it would prove to be decisive on election day.
Separately, for the second day in a row, Mr. Biden traveled to the Upper Midwest, a critical region where he has multiple ambitions: to win back voters who drifted to Mr. Trump in 2016 and become so many Democratic voters. traditional, including black people. residents, as possible.
After making stops in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin on Friday, Mr. Biden devoted Saturday to Michigan, where Mr. Trump held a rally the day before. Mr Biden brought in a brand substitute to help his cause: former President Barack Obama.
Over the past two weeks, Mr. Obama has campaigned solo for Mr. Biden in Pennsylvania and Florida, but Saturday was the first time in the general election that he and Mr. Biden had campaigned together in person. The former president has the potential to help Mr Biden, who served two terms as vice president, with key groups like black voters as well as young people who might not be naturally drawn to a moderate in their 70s like Mr. Biden.
Mr. Obama spoke to Mr. Trump about his handling of the pandemic, highlighting a theme that has been a central message to Mr. Biden in the final days of the campaign.
Noting Mr Trump’s baseless claim that doctors are taking advantage of coronavirus deaths, Mr Obama said: “He can’t understand, he doesn’t understand the idea that someone is risking their life for it. save others without trying to make money. ”
Mr. Trump continues to hold crowded rallies as the pandemic rages on, and Mr. Obama has ridiculed him for his obsession with crowd size, asking, “No one came to his birthday party when was he a child? Was he traumatized?
The Biden campaign also plans to deploy Mr. Obama to South Florida and Atlanta on Monday, where he will attempt to help not only Mr. Biden but also two Democratic Senate candidates, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock. Saturday’s trip was also an opportunity to lend a hand in a tight Senate race, as Gary Peters, an incumbent Democrat, tries to fend off a challenge from his Republican opponent, John James.
For its two events on Saturday, the Biden campaign focused on voice-rich Southeast Michigan. Their first event was a drive-in rally in Flint, the largest city in Genesee County, where cars lined up in rows in a parking lot outside a high school. Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama were also scheduled to appear later Saturday at an event in Detroit where Stevie Wonder was scheduled to perform.
Mr. Obama has won Michigan twice, and Genesee County is an example of where Democrats lost ground in 2016 in a big way compared to how the Obama-Biden ticket fared. Hillary Clinton won the county, but by just nine points, a far cry from Mr. Obama’s 28-point victory four years earlier.
Many cars lined up at the Flint rally displayed campaign signs, including those of Mr. Biden and Mr. Peters, as well as a Halloween-themed sign that showed a ghost and said, “Don’t boo. , vote! ”
Ahead of the event, two large video screens showed the Michigan-State of Michigan football game – a reminder that even three days before the election, candidates are vying for voters’ attention.