(CNN) — President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are rushing to pool the votes of Americans not among the more than 91 million who have already cast their early votes as an election that began months before the pandemic, and was later defined by she heads into her frenzied final hours.
Tuesday’s turning point – and what could turn into a lengthy recount due to the flood of mailed votes – will decide whether Americans will reject Trump after a single term or accept four more years of his brazen presidency.
This will unfold as the new coronavirus emergency spirals out of control across the country, following record daily infection rates and the number of deaths increasing to 1,000 a day.
On Sunday night, the president hinted that he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after the election after rejecting the admired infectious disease specialist’s scientific recommendations on the pandemic.
LEE: Trump suggests he could fire Fauci after the election
Biden will campaign Monday in Ohio – a late addition to his target list – and in Pennsylvania, his birth state that could be the tipping point if the election is too close. Trump will mount a frantic ride aboard Air Force One through North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in a last-ditch effort to save the states he won four years ago and block Biden’s route to the White House.
Biden argues that Trump’s denial and neglect of a pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 Americans and is getting worse by the day should deny the president reelection.
“The truth is that, to defeat the virus, we first have to defeat Donald Trump. He is the virus, ”Biden said in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Both Biden and Trump have paths to victory
The Democratic candidate is heading into the final day of the campaign with a huge lead in national polls and with enough swing states to allow multiple routes to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, including the Sun Belt and the Midwest.
“We are very confident on our way to victory,” Biden’s senior adviser Anita Dunn told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. Biden hopes that victories in states like Arizona, Florida, Georgia or North Carolina can send an early signal Tuesday night that he is headed for victory.
Counting on Midwestern battlefields like Michigan and Wisconsin, where you expect it to do well, could take longer and lead to the kind of contested outcome the president threatens. Trump has already tried to discredit mail-in ballots, which take longer to count, while Republicans in Texas, so far without success, have been trying to invalidate ballots cast at self-service sites in the Houston area.
Trump, although he is behind Biden, also has a clear, albeit narrower, chance of reaching 270 electoral votes based on the fact that he will destroy a strip of battlefields that he won four years ago with what his campaign promises will be a large turnout on Election Day.
The president cannot afford to lose states like Florida, Georgia or North Carolina and then must fight Biden in the Midwest, the decisive territory in his victory over Hillary Clinton, where, by comparison, he is fighting four years later. .
Still, the president is a surprising distance in some state polls and Democrats are tormented with the idea that he could once again defy expectations and make a surprising comeback on Election Day.
Trump cheats on virus and casts shadow on election night
The president spent an aggressive campaign weekend redirecting responsibility for his mishandling of COVID-19, blaming doctors for inflating the death toll and claiming that Biden would put new restrictions on the country if he won.
At a rally in Florida Sunday night, the Trump crowd began chanting “Fire Fauci” when the president complained that too much has already been heard about the pandemic.
“Don’t tell anyone, but let me wait until a little after the election,” the president said.
Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He is respected around the world and played an important role in the fight against HIV / AIDS and Ebola.
In an interview by The Washington Post Posted Saturday, Fauci said the United States “could not be in a poorer position” for the dreaded winter spike in COVID-19 cases that is now materializing, contradicting Trump’s claims that the disease will disappear imminently.
Trump began his day Sunday in snowy Michigan, before traveling through Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, and mild Florida on a grueling journey that exemplified his resilience but also his defiance – and that of his large crowds – to the measures of social distancing that your own government recommends to stop the spread of covid-19.
He falsely claimed again Sunday at a rally in North Carolina that the United States was “turning the corner” in its fight against the virus and that the vaccines it had hoped to implement before the election were “right there.” .
The president is betting that a stream of pro-Trump voters not picked up by polls will embrace his hyperbolic warnings of a takeover by radical Democrats if Biden wins and his denunciation of the city riots he blames on thugs for left.
But an air of foreboding hangs over one of the most surreal elections in modern American history. Reports of mail ballot delivery delays in several crucial battlefield states deepened anxiety about the possibility of lengthy legal duels between campaigns in the event of a closed election.
The additional time and complication of counting ballots by mail could offer the president leeway to cast new doubts on the integrity of an election that he warned will only be fair if he emerges as the winner.
In Texas, the state Supreme Court denied a petition by a group of Republicans seeking to invalidate nearly 127,000 ballots cast at self-service facilities in Harris County, a heavily Democratic area surrounding Houston. Republicans have also filed suit in federal court, which has an emergency hearing Monday morning in Houston.
Meanwhile, the FBI has opened an investigation into a caravan of vehicles driven by Trump supporters allegedly harassing a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas.
And the president added to fears of a contested election by recasting suspicions about the perfectly normal practice of vote counting continuing after election night – likely this year, as some states may not even begin. to count the torrent of ballots by mail until the day of the election.
“I think it’s a terrible thing when you can count the ballots after an election,” said Trump in the crucial state of North Carolina, which he is struggling to keep in his column despite demographic changes that give Democrats hope.
“I think it is a terrible thing when people or states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the elections are over because it can only lead to one thing, and that is very bad. You know what that thing is. I think it is something very dangerous and terrible, “Trump told reporters.
In another ominous comment, the president said that as soon as the vote in states like Pennsylvania is over, “we are going to go to our lawyers,” after criticizing a Supreme Court decision that left a decision of the highest responsible branch in force for now. Pennsylvania to allow the counting of votes up to three days after Election Day.
However, elections are not decided by time limits, they depend on all votes being counted.
LOOK: Florida: Key State That May Tilt US Elections
Concern about premature victory declaration
But Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told the State of Union that she was concerned Trump might attempt to declare victory in her state if Election Day voting showed him an advantage before early votes are counted. and by mail.
“I think this is a very real possibility and that is why we are trying to make sure that everyone in the press understands that the volume of votes that are coming in is unlike anything we’ve seen before and that it will take time to count,” he said.
“And it’s more important that we get an accurate count than a quick count, and it might not be accurate.”
Biden on Sunday sought to convince black voters, who are historically more likely to vote on Election Day, to show up in the numbers he needs in cities and suburbs to offset Trump’s dominance in the rural heartland.
He participated in a “Souls to the Polls” vote promotion event at a Baptist church in Philadelphia and then held a car rally. He highlighted disparities in the virus’s impact on minorities and, at the cradle of the American experiment, described Trump as a threat to basic American freedoms.
Every generation has to fight to maintain democracy. However, I never thought we would have to fight so hard, ”said Biden.
His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, traveled to North Carolina and Georgia, two states where Democrats believe they can win in part thanks to strong turnout from black voters.
Let’s not let anyone take away our power. Let’s not be left out, let’s not be silent, the stakes are high and our ancestors expect much more from us than that, “said Harris in North Carolina.
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