President Trump and Joe Biden spent Saturday fanned out across Florida and the Midwest, sharpening their messages in key battleground areas with 10 days until Election Day.
Their events illuminated the very different approaches each campaign has taken. Biden returned to his native Pennsylvania for socially distanced drive-in rallies in Bucks County and Luzerne County, two areas crucial to winning the important state, where he hammered Trump for his irresponsible handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, Trump visited North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, holding large in-person rallies where thousands of people crowded together without masks. He continued downplaying the dangers of the virus, which has killed more than 220,000 Americans since February.
Trump kicked off his day by voting in Florida, using the moment to attack voting by mail and to sow doubt about election results. When asked who he voted for, he said, “I voted for a guy named Trump.”
“It was a very secure vote, much more secure than when you send in a ballot, I can tell you that,” Trump said after casting a paper ballot at the West Palm Beach Main Library. “Everything was perfect, very strict, right by the rules.”
Trump has voted by absentee ballot in the past, including in the Florida primary in August.
In Lumberton, N.C., Trump ridiculed television news for covering the coronavirus and claimed baselessly that the media would ignore hundreds dead in a plane crash to keep focus on the pandemic.
“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. “By the way, on November 4th, you won’t hear about it anymore.”
The president also repeated his inaccurate claim that cases in the United States only appear so high because the country tests more than others. “What it does is it gives the fake news media something to talk about. So they say, ‘Cases are up in the United States.’ That’s because we test,” Trump said.
Trump’s months-long dismissal of the severity of the coronavirus, even after having contracting it himself, has been roundly debunked. The United States on Friday hit its highest daily number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, recording at least 82,900 new infections.
Meanwhile, Biden harshly criticized Trump for saying the country was “rounding the corner” in the coronavirus pandemic as states were setting new daily case records.
“I told him at the debate, we’re not learning how to live with it. We’re learning how to die with it! And it’s wrong,” Biden said at his first rally in Bristol, Pa., against a backdrop of colorful trees, hay bales and scattered pumpkins. He spoke to rows of cars in the parking lot of Bucks County Community College so that attendees could remain distanced. Biden and his wife, Jill, took the stage wearing face masks but removed them at the lectern.
“I don’t like the idea of all this distance but it’s necessary,” Biden said to a cacophony of honks. “What we don’t want to do is become superspreaders.”
He accused Trump of being more interested in golfing than trying to work on another stimulus package that would provide economic relief to families suffering in the pandemic. As he had at the debate, Biden warned of a “a dark winter ahead … all because this president cares more about the stock market than he does about you.”
He also knocked Republicans for saying they had no time to work on such legislation while rushing the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans plan a final vote Monday to confirm Trump’s nominee, which would tilt the Supreme Court 6-3 in conservatives’ favor.
“If they get their way, over 100 million Americans, including 5.3 million Pennsylvanians, will lose their coverage for preexisting conditions that we worked so hard to provide,” Biden said in Bucks County. He has vowed to expand Obamacare if elected.
Biden also used his visit to Pennsylvania to emphasize he would not ban fracking in the state “or anywhere else.” The issue of fracking came up in Thursday night’s debate, where Trump accused the former vice president of wanting to ban the process in which liquids are injected at high pressure into the ground to widen fissures, allowing the extraction of oil and natural gas.
Later Saturday afternoon, Biden returned to northeastern Pennsylvania, near where he was born, for an event that featured a three-song set by Jon Bon Jovi, beginning with “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” Bon Jovi closed with a song written about the coronavirus with such lyrics as: “Although I keep my social distance, what the world needs is a hug. Until we find a vaccination, there’s no substitute for love.”
During the rally Saturday, some Trump supporters waving large Trump banners drove their cars around the lot and honked as Biden was speaking.
Both campaigns have been focused in recent weeks on Pennsylvania, a key battleground state with 20 electoral votes. “We have 10 days left! And it may come down to Pennsylvania,” Biden said. “And I believe in you; I believe in my state!”
Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), stopped Saturday in Cleveland.
Other key campaign figures zeroed in on the Sunshine State. Vice President Pence headlined two rallies in central Florida, while former president Barack Obama made his second campaign appearance for Biden, this time at a car rally in North Miami.
There, Obama reprised his scathing criticism of Trump, saying he lacked the character and the work ethic to be president. Obama said Trump’s amplification of conspiracy theories, angry and recriminating tweets and corruption was “not normal behavior.”
He told the crowd that they wouldn’t tolerate such behavior from a co-worker, a high school principal, a coach or a family member.
“‘Florida man’ wouldn’t even do this stuff,” Obama said, to some laughter and lot of honking. By contrast, he said Biden would be “a normal president” who would care about American families and have the plans and experience to handle the challenges of the office.