Trump stages five rallies in five states in preelection sprint
President Trump held five rallies in as many states on Sunday, seeking to energize his base of supporters in battleground states that he won in 2016 but where he is currently locked in tight contests against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Trump consecutively appeared in Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, as he seeks to boost turnout for his reelection just two days before Election Day. The events featured crowds of thousands of supporters, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Two are in states Trump won handily in 2016.
Democrats have led Republicans in early voting, after Trump waged attacks on mail-in ballots throughout the campaign, but the GOP is hoping for a large surge in in-person voting on Election Day. In remarks to reporters upon arriving in North Carolina, Trump indicated Republicans would mount legal challenges to prevent mail ballots that are received after Election Day from being counted.
The president’s appearances in Iowa and Georgia are especially notable, underscoring the degree to which he is defending states that he won comfortably against 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump also sought to boost Sens. Joni Ernst (Iowa), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and David Perdue (Ga.), all vulnerable GOP incumbents up for reelection.
Trump’s remarks Sunday featured his usual attacks on his opponent. He sought to paint Biden, a moderate, as a proponent for radical progressive policies and as mentally incapable of handling the presidency. Trump displayed a video highlighting Biden’s past support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and his recent gaffes on the campaign trail.
Trump attacked Biden’s son Hunter Biden and claimed that Joe Biden, if elected, would turn the country into a “prison state” that would prevent the economic recovery. Biden has said that he would follow the advice of scientists if they recommended a future nationwide lockdown, but that he does not believe that will be necessary to address the pandemic. Biden has also vociferously criticized Trump for failing to adequately respond to the pandemic, which has killed more than 230,000 Americans.
Trump, who faces vast disapproval among Americans over his handling of the pandemic, spoke optimistically about the prospect of a vaccine and declared that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” on the virus at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging across the country.
At one point during his rally in Rome, Ga., Trump mocked Biden for saying he would “follow science” on the pandemic.
“This election is a choice between a Biden depression and a boom like you’ve never seen before,” Trump said in Hickory, N.C. North Carolina is among several states seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases.
During his appearance in North Carolina, Trump also recited the poem “The Snake,” which he used during his 2016 campaign as he sought to portray threats posed by immigration. He claimed that a Biden administration would enact lax immigration policies.
The Iowa rally, which was staged in Dubuque, also doubled as an effort to reach out to voters in Wisconsin, another critical battleground that borders the city. Trump tailored some of his remarks to Iowa voters, highlighting his decision earlier this year to lift restrictions on the use of existing gas pumps to distribute higher-ethanol gasoline.
Most polls out of Iowa show a tight race between Trump and Biden, but Trump and his advisers have pointed to a new Des Moines Register poll showing Trump leading Biden by 7 percentage points as an indication the president has a comfortable lead in the state. Trump won Iowa by about 10 percentage points in 2016.
In Georgia, where Trump won by a decisive 5 percentage points in 2016, a RealClearPolitics average shows a tight race, with Biden holding an advantage of less than 1 percentage point over Trump.
Still, Trump, during his fourth rally of the day in Rome, claimed that aides told him he had Georgia “made” and didn’t need to visit the state, but that he decided to visit regardless.
A The Hill/HarrisX poll released last week showed Biden leading Trump 49 percent to 48 percent in North Carolina, where Trump won by more 3 percentage points in 2016. Trump holds a 0.6 percentage point advantage over Biden in North Carolina, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls.
Trump registered razor-thin victories in Michigan and Florida in 2016. Most polls have shown Biden with a decisive lead over Trump in Michigan, while the candidates are neck and neck in Florida, his final stop of the night on Sunday. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday, Trump has 50 percent of the vote among likely voters in Florida while Biden has 48 percent. Florida is viewed by many as critical to Trump’s reelection and is also the president’s home state.
Trump’s sprint through five states on Sunday stood in contrast to his campaign events the day prior, which were all staged in Pennsylvania. He will headline five more rallies on Monday — the eve of Election Day — including two in Michigan and singular events in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Biden, in contrast, held events exclusively in Pennsylvania Sunday and will travel to Pennsylvania and Ohio on the final day before Nov. 3.
Updated at 11:40 p.m.