JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — With Election Day just three weeks away, President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden concentrated Tuesday on battleground states both see as critical to clinching an Electoral College victory, tailoring their travel to best motivate voters who could cast potentially decisive ballots.
Biden went to Florida to court seniors, looking to deliver a knockout blow in a state Trump needs to win while trying to woo a group whose support for the president has slipped. And Trump visited Pennsylvania, arguably the most important state on the electoral map, unleashing fierce attacks on Biden's fitness for office in his opponent's backyard.
"He's shot, folks. I hate to tell you, he's shot," Trump told a big rally crowd in Johnstown, saying there was extra pressure on him to win because Biden was the worst presidential candidate of all time. "Can you imagine if you lose to a guy like this? It's unbelievable."
In his second rally since contracting the coronavirus, Trump spoke for more than an hour to a crowd of thousands packed in tightly and mostly maskless. Like the night before in Florida, Trump seemed healthy, and his rhetoric on the pandemic — including the dubious claim that it was mostly a thing of the past — changed little despite his own illness, except for his threat to kiss audience members to prove his immunity.
Trump made a local pitch, hammering home the claim that a Democratic administration could limit fracking in areas where the economy is heavily dependent on energy, despite Biden's proposal to only bar new leases on federal land, a fraction of U.S. fracking operations. And Trump, touting his elimination of a federal rule that would have brought more low-income housing to the suburbs, zeroed in on groups whose support he has struggled to retain, including female voters turned off by his rhetoric.
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"So I ask you to do me a favor. Suburban women: Will you please like me? Please. Please. I saved your damn neighborhood, OK?" Trump said. "The other thing: I don't have that much time to be that nice. You know, I can do it, but I gotta go quickly."
Biden spent the day in Florida, his third visit to the state in a month, looking to expand on his inroads with older voters. To Trump, "you're expendable, you're forgettable, you're virtually nobody," Biden said at a senior center in Pembroke Pines, about 20 miles from Fort Lauderdale.
The "only senior Donald Trump seems to care about" is himself, Biden added.
After frequently criticizing Trump for not doing enough to promote mask wearing to prevent the spread of the virus, Biden was wearing two masks, an N-95 underneath a blue surgical mask, as he deplaned in Florida. Later in the day, he switched to his normal mode of donning just one.
Biden also held a drive-in rally designed to promote voter mobilization in the heavily African American community of Miramar. His swing coincided with a $500,000 donation from billionaire former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg to increase Democratic turnout in Miami-Dade County.
"I'm running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president," Biden said to supporters blaring their horns as they listened from cars. "I'll work as hard for those who vote against me as those who vote for me."