Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism
Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin
With just 10 days left to go before Nov. 3, President Trump made the case for his reelection bid Saturday during three campaign rallies in the key battleground states of North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The president delivered three rally speeches in which he took aim at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in states that he won in 2016 and will likely need to win to secure re-election.
Trump attacked Biden on Social Security, the coronavirus, the economy and law enforcement in an effort to juxtapose himself with his opponent. The president spoke to thousands of supporters in each location, even as states like Wisconsin deal with surges in COVID-19 cases.
The president's flurry of campaign rallies come as the president finds himself behind in most national polls and trailing Biden in key battleground states. And his focus on states he won four years ago reflects how he is playing defense and faces a narrow path to 270 electoral votes next month.
A Quinnipiac University poll national released on Thursday showed Biden with a 10-point advantage in the race, and a RealClearPolitics polling average shows Biden leading Trump in national polls by 8.1 percentage points.
Recent polls have also showed Biden with leads in the battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and the two candidates are competing head-to-head in states like North Carolina and Florida. Election experts have predicted it will be extremely difficult for Trump to win reelection without a victory in the Sunshine State.
The president kicked off his busy day by casting his ballot early in Florida at the Palm Beach main library. He later told reporters the vote was "very secure" and that he "voted for a guy named Trump."
Trump then headed off to Lumberton, N.C., where he took aim at Biden, mocking the former vice president's simultaneous drive-in rally in Pennsylvania as "small" compared to his.
"People in cars. I don't get it. They're in cars," Trump said to an audience that appeared to be packed together, with only some people wearing masks. "There were so few cars. I've never seen an audience like this."
The incumbent alleged during his speech that Biden was going to cut Social Security, and his campaign showed a video of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) making the same accusation during the Democratic primary debates.
"So I wanna show you Joe Biden on Social Security," Trump said. "Watch this, the video, please."
Trump has previously accused Biden of wanting to cut the benefit program including during Thursday's final presidential debate.
The Democrat responded to the accusation, during the event stating, "'If in fact he [Trump] continues his plan to withhold the tax on Social Security, Social Security will be bankrupt by 2023 with no way to make up for it.' This is the guy who's tried to cut Medicare."
"The idea that Donald Trump is lecturing me on Social Security and Medicare? Come on," he continued.
Trump on Saturday also spoke on the coronavirus pandemic, a topic that has dominated the election amid a new surge in cases.
The president implied that that the media was to blame for the intense focus on COVID-19, and claimed that the reason there were so many cases was that more tests are being administered.
"Turn on television: 'covid, covid, covid, covid, covid.' A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don't talk about it - 'covid, covid, covid, covid,'" Trump said in North Carolina. "By the way, on November 4th, you won't hear about it anymore."
His comments come as U.S. recorded over 83,000 new cases on Friday, a new record for coronavirus cases confirmed in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
During the second rally in Circleville, Ohio, the president spoke to a large crowd where signs that read "Big Ten Football Is Back" were on display.
The league restarted games on Saturday amid pressure from Trump after initially postponing them due to the coronavirus. Within minutes of taking the stage, the president touted the return of the football league. Trump congratulated Ohio State University for winning against Nebraska.
"We got it back and you won your football game," Trump said.
Biden and Trump are neck-and-neck North Carolina. A Washington Post- ABC poll released Tuesday found Biden with 49 percent support among likely voters and Trump with 48 percent support in the state. Trump won the state in 2016 by roughly 173,000 votes.
Meanwhile, a poll from Fox News released Thursday found that the president leading his Democratic opponent by just three points in Ohio, garnering 48 percent of support compared to Biden's 45 percent. Trump won the state in 2016 by 450,000 votes.
In his final rally of the night, held in Waukesha, Wis., Trump again brought attention to the coronavirus pandemic and his push for states to reopen, framing the election as a choice between "a Trump boom and a Biden lockdown."
This came as Wisconsin has recently experienced record coronavirus infection rates, with the Badger State confirming more than 4,600 new cases on Friday. In the past week, the state has averaged about 3,000 new cases per day.
Trump also took aim at Biden's economic proposals, namely the Democratic nominee's plan that would raise taxes for individuals with incomes more than $400,000.
"Sleepy Joe wants to raise the hell out of your taxes," Trump said, claiming that Biden is "the only politician I've ever seen who is going to give you the largest tax increase in the history of our country."
"The election is a choice between a Trump super recovery, because that's what we're having, and a Biden super depression," the president added, reiterating his claim in Thursday's final presidential debate that the former vice president would drive the country into a depression "the likes of which you've never seen before."
Trump's last rally on Saturday also incorporated Trump's support for law enforcement amid months of protests against police brutality.
Kenosha, Wis., was the site of tense clashes between demonstrators and police earlier this year following the police shooting of 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake.
Before again showing his video on Biden and Social Security, the president directed audiences to an advertisement alleging that Biden hopes to take away funding from police departments, adding that "if Biden wins, the flag burning rioters on the streets will be running the federal government."
Biden has repeatedly denied that he was going to defund the police, and said at his NBC town hall earlier this month that he "will do what I've done in the past."
"I'm going to bring all these interests together, bring people together," Biden said at the time. "Peaceful protesters, police chiefs, police officers, police unions, as well as civil rights groups in the White House and sit down and decide what are the things that need to be done to improve and help police officers."
Over 56 million ballots have already been cast in the general election, the U.S. Elections Project reported on Saturday, which is 41 percent of all votes counted in the 2016 general election.
However, the president has a busy schedule in the coming days. He is slated to hold events in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska between Monday and Tuesday alone.
- Brett Samuels contributed