Friday, 4 Dec 2020

Trump launches final battleground pitch; Biden focuses on PA

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump is mounting one final test of whether the massive crowds that often show up at his signature rallies will translate into votes as he finishes the final 48 hours of his reelection campaign with a dizzying onslaught of events in the battleground states that could decide the race.

The president will hold five rallies in five states on Sunday alone. He’ll hold seven more on Monday to close out the final full day of the campaign.

Down in the polls and at a cash disadvantage to his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, Trump is turning to rallies to help keep his message in front of voters. But it’s unclear whether they will broaden his appeal beyond those already likely to vote for him. And the packed — often unmasked — crowds risk deepening the pandemic at a time when coronavirus cases are surging across the U.S.

But Trump, still relishing his late-stage upset in the 2016 campaign, sees his showmanship as a central element of his outsider appeal that he hopes will resonate again this year.

“Let me ask you, is there a better place to be anytime, anywhere than a Trump rally?” Trump asked a massive crowd Saturday in Butler, Pennsylvania, that responded in roaring approval.

With more than 91 million votes already cast, Trump and Biden are out of time to reshape the race. Instead, they’re focusing on their base and making sure that any potential supporters have either already voted or plan to do so in person on Tuesday.

For Biden, that means paying close attention to Black voters who are a critical part of the coalition he needs to build to win. His team is confident in Biden’s standing with women, college-educated voters and those who live in the suburbs.

But some Democrats worry that voters of color may not be excited about Biden and won’t show up in force to support him, which could be devastating in fiercely contested battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The challenge is exacerbated by the Democratic push this year to encourage voting by mail to prevent people waiting in long lines during a pandemic. But that runs counter to the tradition of some Black voters who prefer to vote in person on Election Day.

“Most Black voters in Philly have been skeptical of mail-in voting,” said Joe Hill, a veteran Democratic operative-turned-lobbyist from the city. “A lot of us have gotten our ballots already,” Hill said, but added, “Election Day has always been everything in Philadelphia.”

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