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Trump, Biden take fight to campaign trail as finish line nears

Trump, Biden take fight to campaign trail as finish line nears
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With less than two months until the 2020 election, President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE are dueling it out on the campaign trail, with each candidate targeting multiple battleground states this week even as concerns about the spread of the coronavirus from travel and in-person events persist.

Biden has started to hit the campaign trail in person after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, he’ll be in Michigan, a state Trump carried by fewer than 10,000 votes in 2016.

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, has planned 18 appearances in 11 states over the next six days for the president, Vice President Pence and members of the Trump family. The president is pressing forward with an aggressive travel schedule for official and campaign appearances after visiting Florida and North Carolina on Tuesday. 

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The trips underscore the sense of urgency felt by both campaigns as Nov. 3 nears. Biden maintains a lead over Trump in national polling, but surveys in some swing states show the race narrowing, presenting an opportunity for the incumbent president even as he faces steep disapproval for his handling of the coronavirus.

The events also bring the battlegrounds map into sharp relief, giving an indication of the states the campaigns believe will be most important for their path to 270 electoral votes.

Trump visited Florida, a key swing state he won in 2016 and his adopted home state, speaking at an official event Tuesday where he announced plans to expand a moratorium on offshore drilling. Trump took explicit digs at Biden during the speech, rejecting Democrats’ environmental policies as radical and job-killing and attacking Biden’s mental acuity.

Sen Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Watch live: Biden participates in HBCU homecoming Jennifer Aniston: 'It's not funny to vote for Kanye' MORE (D-Calif.), Biden’s running mate, will visit Miami on Thursday as a new Miami Herald poll finds Biden leading Trump by 17 points in Dade County, where Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBon Jovi to campaign with Biden in Pennsylvania The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Biden gets late boost with key union endorsement MORE triumphed by more than 30 points in 2016.

The survey found Trump and Biden splitting Hispanic voters, thanks in large part to the president’s nearly 40-point advantage among Cuban Americans.

A new NBC News-Marist Poll that found Trump and Biden tied in Florida also showed the president leading among Latinos statewide, although Biden is outperforming Clinton’s numbers among seniors in the state.

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In addition to Florida, Trump this week is traveling to North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada. Following his Michigan event, Biden will visit Pennsylvania and says he has plans to travel to Arizona and Minnesota soon. Both candidates will be in Shanksville, Pa., to mark the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Pence will visit Pennsylvania on Wednesday. He and Harris both traveled to Wisconsin on Labor Day.

While Trump has more in-person events planned, the Biden campaign has been swamping the airwaves with advertisements at a time when the president’s campaign appears to have drawn back on television.

“We have a far greater and far wider [advertising] footprint than Trump; in fact it’s a little bit difficult to see what their strategy is right now,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told reporters.

Amid speculation about a Trump campaign “cash crunch,” the president on Tuesday acknowledged he’s considering using some of his own money in the race — an astonishing admission for a campaign that has combined with the Republican National Committee to raise more than $1 billion this cycle — though he downplayed the immediate need to do so.

“We’re comfortable and confident in where we’re spending, how much we’re spending and how much we’ll have down the stretch,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said.

Trump is largely playing defense in 2020, needing to guard the core battleground states he won in 2016, including Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Biden is also making a play for states Trump won handily, such as Ohio, Iowa and Georgia.

But the Trump campaign sees opportunities to go on offense in states Clinton won, such as Nevada, Minnesota and New Hampshire. Trump will travel to Reno and Las Vegas over the weekend to deliver remarks to supporters at airport events that have supplanted his hallmark indoor campaign rallies.

Since ramping up his travel schedule in recent days, Biden has already made stops in Pennsylvania to meet with labor leaders, and Wisconsin to talk about healing following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Biden is in the third former “blue wall” state of Michigan on Wednesday, with an appearance focused on the economy in Macomb County, which Trump carried by 12 points in 2016.

If the 2016 map stays the same but Biden returns Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to the blue column, he’ll win the White House. However, unless Biden is able to pick up another state, he’ll need to win all three, giving him little margin of error in states that broke for Trump by a combined 77,000 votes in 2016.

Biden has visited Pennsylvania more than any other state this year. In television ads and campaign appearances, Biden has touted his Scranton, Pa., roots as he has sought to appeal to the white working-class voters that powered Trump’s 2016 election victory.

The Biden campaign has also made a point of not repeating Clinton’s mistake of failing to visit Wisconsin in 2016.

Both Biden and Harris have touched down in the Badger State in recent days to meet with Blake’s family. The meeting came in contrast to Trump’s visit to Kenosha to tour the devastation from protesters who destroyed businesses following Blake’s shooting.

The Biden campaign sees an opportunity in the Midwest to pick up some of the disaffected working-class voters and others who have been turned off by politics who broke heavily for Trump over Clinton in 2016.

“We’re also looking at these other core groups that were part of what drove Trump’s victory in 2016, disaffected voters where you’re seeing real erosion from Trump in terms of his voters, both among white working class but also generally there’s this conversation about people who don’t feel great about either candidate – we’re leading those voters by 34 points,” O’Malley Dillon said. “Independents we’re ahead by 11. Suburban voters, 13.”

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, is playing up the incumbent president’s record on the economy, an area where he is strongest against Biden despite the pain inflicted to workers by the pandemic.

Trump has highlighted the millions of jobs gained back since the peak unemployment rate in April and argued that a Biden administration would upend the effort to claw back jobs by raising taxes and imposing regulations.

The Trump campaign on Tuesday unveiled a new multistate advertisement that highlights Trump’s handling of the economic recovery and argues that Biden, who said he would shut down the country again if health experts recommended it, would “kill countless American businesses and jobs.”

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And amid nationwide protests for racial justice, Trump has also positioned himself as an ally of law enforcement and argued that Biden would allow violence that has at times accompanied the demonstrations to fester, highlighting instances of destruction as evidence of what he describes as widespread chaos.

Polls suggest, however, that the message is not resonating broadly with the American public. A YouGov survey conducted last week found 56 percent of American adults believe the violence will get worse if Trump is reelected, while a plurality believe it will get better under Biden.

Still, Trump expressed confidence Tuesday that the message would help him win over suburban voters, a key group that helped propel him to victory over Clinton in 2016.

“The suburbs are coming big to us because the suburbs are next,” Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews. “If you elected this guy, the suburbs would be overwhelmed with violence and crime.”