President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE rallied large crowds of supporters in Arizona on Wednesday, six days before Election Day, seeking to boost his chances and those of Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyBusiness groups, sensing victory, keep up pressure over tax hikes Kelly raises million in third quarter Ruben Gallego is left's favorite to take on Sinema MORE (R-Ariz.) as Democrats outpace Republicans in early voting in the battleground state.
The president's decision to hold two rallies in the state — which hasn't gone for a Democratic nominee since 1996 — is the latest indication that Trump is largely on defense as he pushes toward Election Day. McSally is facing a difficult reelection fight of her own against former astronaut Mark Kelly, who has outraised his opponent in the state’s most expensive campaign.
The Biden campaign is also eyeing the state and its 11 electoral votes.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures Democrats ponder Plan B strategy to circumvent voting rights filibuster Watch: Lawmakers, activists, family members call for voting rights legislation on MLK day MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday also made stops in Arizona to meet with Latina business owners, participate in a voter mobilization event and meet with Black leaders.
Polls show Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE with a razor-thin lead over Trump in Arizona.
Trump is focused on energizing his base during the final week before the election, staging his Wednesday rallies in Bullhead City on the Arizona-Nevada border and Goodyear, both traditionally red areas of the state.
At the events he displayed videos of edited clips showing governors praising his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and showcasing Biden gaffes.
He leveled his usual attacks on Biden and the media, claiming the former vice president had surrendered the Democratic Party to “rage-filled socialists, Marxist and left-wing extremists” and would enact record tax hikes.
Trump also minimized concerns about the coronavirus pandemic even as cases rise in Arizona and across the country, promising swift economic recovery and claiming the U.S. was “rounding the turn” on the virus.
“We will deliver record prosperity, epic job growth, and a safe vaccine is coming very quickly,” Trump told the large crowd of supporters in Bullhead City. “We are rounding the turn regardless, you know that.”
Trump told the crowd in Goodyear that he was unveiling his “American Dream Plan” to create jobs for Hispanic Americans and boost the number of Hispanic-owned businesses.
In Tucson, Harris delivered a stinging rebuke of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, urging voters in the state to make their voices heard at the polls.
“The people were lied to by the president of the United States,” Harris said speaking to an audience gathered in 100 cars at Pima Community College West. “He failed us. He failed the American people.”
Harris also invoked health care, warning of efforts within the Trump administration to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the wake of Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettSupreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine-or-test mandate for employers Conservative justices seem skeptical of Biden vaccine mandates Congressional Progressive Caucus backs measure to expand Supreme Court MORE’s appointment to the Supreme Court earlier this week.
“You have Donald Trump who together with his boy Bill Barr are in the United States Supreme Court suing to get rid of the Affordable Care Act,” Harris told the audience.
A Democrat has not won Arizona since 1996 when Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonCould the coming 'red wave' election become a 'red tsunami'? Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket A year into his presidency, Biden is polling at an all-time low MORE carried the state and the last Democrat to win the state prior to that was Harry Truman in 1948. Trump won Arizona by roughly 3 percentage points over Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket A year into his presidency, Biden is polling at an all-time low MORE in 2016.
Current polling shows a tight race between Trump and Biden, and a surge in early voting that has favored Democrats is leaving the party hopeful they can turn Arizona blue this year.
“I think the chances are good. I think all the polling shows that Biden has a slight lead or it’s a pretty steady close race,” said Chad Campbell, Democratic strategist in Arizona and former state representative, who pointed to the shifting demographics and the enthusiasm for Democrats reflected in early voting. “It has really added up to create an environment that is favorable to a Democratic win this year.”
A poll from the firm OH Predictive Insights released on Tuesday found Biden leading Trump 49 percent to 46 percent, a 3-point advantage within the survey’s margin of error. It also found Kelly with a 5 percentage point advantage over McSally.
Mike Noble, chief of research and managing partner at OH Predictive Insights, said that Biden’s support has remained steady between 49 and 50 percent during the primary election, giving him a slight edge as the two candidates enter the final stretch.
“Biden has a slight edge going into these final days,” Noble said. “The issue for Trump has been that on his best day he is at 46 percent of the vote share, on his worst day he is at 42 percent.”
As of Wednesday, roughly 1.8 million voters in Arizona had cast ballots, with Democrats recording a 3 percentage point advantage over Republicans in the early vote. The current election marks the first in which Republicans have not had an advantage over Democrats in early voting, noted Chuck Coughlin, a Republican strategist based in Phoenix.
Republicans are betting on a significant turnout on Election Day that will be enough to eclipse Democrats’ advantage; indeed, Trump mused in Goodyear about a “great red wave.”
“They need people to vote. They need people to turnout and that’s a problem right now,” Coughlin said. “It needs to be monumentally large.”
Trump has made numerous trips to Arizona in the past few months, after a brief break from the campaign trail during the early days of the pandemic. Biden and Harris made their first joint campaign stop in Arizona earlier this month, kicking off a bus tour of the state. In addition to having the support of the state’s Democrats, some prominent Republicans have backed Biden's presidential bid.
Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainKelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities Sinema, Manchin curb Biden's agenda MORE (R-Ariz.), endorsed Biden and campaigned with him when he was in the state earlier this month.
Harris invoked the late senator’s penchant for straight talk at the drive-in rally on Wednesday.
“In the spirit of the late great John McCain, let’s start with some straight talk,” she said. “I’m a proud patriotic American.”
Former Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCruz to get Nord Stream 2 vote as part of deal on Biden nominees Democrats threaten to play hardball over Cruz's blockade Rubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees MORE (R-Ariz.) has also endorsed Biden, and appeared in an ad for the Democratic nominee on Wednesday.
“I’ve never before voted for a Democrat for president,” Flake says in the ad.
“But this year, principle and conscience require me to do just that,” he continues. “I’m voting for Joe Biden.”
Trump during his rally in Bullhead City complained about running against the “RINOS,” a reference to “Republican in name only,” without mentioning Flake or McCain.
“A RINO may be the lowest form of human life,” Trump told the crowd.
Julia Manchester contributed.