President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden will rally voters just hours apart in the Florida city of Tampa on Thursday, their campaign paths crossing for the first time as the rivals’ fight for the White House enters its frenetic final days.
Florida is a must-win prize, and polls show the candidates in a dead heat in America’s third-largest state, which has sided with the winner in every presidential election since 1964, with one exception.
The candidates’ events are sure to be a study in contrasts, with Trump’s largely mask-less and densely packed supporters gathering in the afternoon, and Biden holding a socially distanced drive-in meeting later in the evening.
A day prior, Trump was stumping in Arizona, while Biden voted in his home state of Delaware and met with health experts, as he fine-tuned his pandemic response plan, seeking to reassure voters that he would use science to fight the contagion.
The virus has killed more than 227,000 people in the US and forced millions out of work in the world’s largest economy as a resurgent wave of cases was reaching record levels.
“I’m not running on a false promise of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch,” said the 77-year-old former vice president, who has a strong lead in opinion polls.
“But what I can promise you is this: We’ll start on Day 1 by doing the right thing. We’ll let science guide our decisions.”
On Saturday, Biden is to get some star power when he is joined on the stump in Michigan by Barack Obama, whom he served as vice president.
It will be their first joint in-person appearance of the 2020 race, though Obama has been delivering strategically timed broadsides at Trump throughout.
Trump, by contrast, is finishing his campaign in an extreme test of endurance, with a final attempt to catch up both in swing states and also states that he won in 2016 but now has to defend.
After rallying supporters in three states Tuesday, Trump, 74, overnighted in a fourth — Nevada — and then flew to Arizona for two more rallies.
On an airport tarmac in Bullhead City, Arizona, Trump all but ignored the Covid-19 crisis, and many supporters did not bother with masks as they cheered his defiant insistence on a landslide victory November 3.
“It’s going to be a great, great red wave,” he boomed, referring to the Republican color.
“We love you! We love you!” the enthusiastic crowd chanted back.
At another rally, in Goodyear, Arizona, Trump predicted he’d repeat his 2016 upset, saying: “We’re going to have an even bigger surprise in six days.”
Under shadow of Covid
The pandemic has upended all aspects of American life and overshadowed the election, with polls showing it may well be the president’s undoing as cases hit record levels in the US.
With many Americans fearing the risk of voting in crowded polling stations, a remarkable 74.7 million people have already cast their ballots.
Some 57.4 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s coronavirus response, while 39.8 percent approve, according to a poll average compiled by tracker FiveThirtyEight.com.
Biden has seized on that to build an impressive advantage in polls heading into the final week and is looking to expand his state-by-state path to victory.
On Tuesday, Biden visited Georgia, traditionally Republican territory, and he has said he will travel to Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan in the race’s closing days.
All are states that Trump won in 2016 but that are up for grabs this year.
On Wednesday, Trump kept up his scorn for Biden’s focus on health safety, saying that the Democrat would destroy the country through more lockdowns.
“If you vote for Biden, it means no kids in school, no graduation, no Christmas and no Fourth of July together. Other than that, you’ll have a wonderful life.”
But Trump’s own chief infectious disease specialist, Anthony Fauci, warned Wednesday that even if a Covid-19 vaccine is released this year, it will take to “the end of 2021 and perhaps even into the next year” to reach “some semblances of normality.”
Stephen Colbert details ‘petty’ Trump’s 46-minute ‘pants-filling tantrum’ to ‘kamikaze MAGA dead-enders’
"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert walked through President Donald Trump's recent 46-minute Facebook rant in an epic opening monologue Wednesday night.
Thursday will mark one month since the election, and "the president has spent that entire time throwing a loud, pants-filling tantrum," said Colbert. "If we don't change presidents soon, he's going to get a rash."
He explained that the world had been subjected to Trump's "call to arms" for his supporters, seeking to overthrow the election and nullify the will of the people.
‘Book her on Jeanine Pirro’: Witness ridiculed after going viral during Giuliani’s Michigan hearing
Rudy Giuliani's election fraud hearing went off the rails Wednesday evening as one woman monopolized the comments section with a series of rants.
“That poll book is off by 100,000!” claimed the woman. “Why don’t you look at the registered voters on there? … what was the turnout rate, 120 percent?”
Some speculated if the woman was intoxicated while others wondered if she'd been using Gov. Rick Perry's "smart glasses" as a talking stick. One Michigander explained, however, that some people in the state simply talk that way.
Trump witness at Rudy’s Michigan hearing demands photo ID because ‘all Chinese look alike’
President Donald Trump's latest election fraud "hearing" in Michigan brought together a motley crew of witnesses including one woman who went off on a rant about photo ID.
Michigan requests a photo ID but doesn't mandate it to vote. But that isn't enough for one woman who said it's necessary to tell Chinese people apart.
"I think all Chinese look alike, so how would you tell?" she asked.
If the woman at the hearing has a hard time telling the difference between Chinese people, she may also have trouble looking at a photo of a person and telling if they're the same person on the ID. Voter rolls also don't have photos of the voter included in them.