(CNN) — Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump clashed in the precious state of Florida on Thursday, as the United States surpassed a daily record with more than 88,000 new coronavirus cases and the two candidates displayed their sharply divergent approaches to the virus in a rally duel.
At a socially distant drive-in theater in South Florida’s Broward County, Biden thanked attendees for wearing masks and staying six feet apart.
The former vice president called on Floridians to change the course of the pandemic and choose “science over fiction,” by using his status to block Trump’s path to re-election.
“The heart and soul of this country is at stake in Florida. It is up to you. You have the key, ”Biden told a diverse group of voters.
If Florida turns blue, it’s over. It’s over”.
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Biden and Trump in Florida
Biden’s visit to the Trump adoption state was the latest example of his attempt to expand the electoral map in the final stretch of the campaign by spending a lot of time in the states that Trump won in 2016, while his team contemplates multiple paths to the 270 electoral votes you need to win.
The two candidates will cross paths again on Friday when they both campaign in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as Biden tries to shore up his tracks in those Midwestern states and connect with working-class voters Hillary Clinton neglected in the final days of her career with Trump four years ago.
If Biden can’t change the battlefields of Florida and North Carolina, he could make his way to the White House by rebuilding the Democrats’ blue wall in the Rust Belt and capturing Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, while keeping Minnesota in the loop. Democratic column.
Trump won those three Midwestern states by less than one percentage point in 2016.
And Biden’s kinship to blue-collar voters living in working-class towns like Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he lived as a child, was a major selling point to Democratic primary voters as he cultivated the image of ” Middle-class Joe.
Campaign for «the forgotten ones»
While Trump has campaigned in both 2016 and 2020 as a voice for the “forgotten men and women” living in those communities, Biden has argued that the president ignored their needs while helping his wealthy allies, trying to frame the race. like Scranton vs. Park Avenue.
But Trump has argued that Biden favored trade policies that sent jobs abroad and opened the border to the detriment of working-class voters.
However, a key facet of Biden’s success in 2020 is that he has narrowed Trump’s margins with white voters who do not have a college degree, a trend he hopes to accelerate in the final days of the campaign as he tends to key states. from the Midwest.
Trump, who won Florida with just over 100,000 votes in that campaign against Clinton, rejected the possibility of a loss in his backyard, arguing this week that electing Biden would lead to national lockdown and subsequent economic collapse because of his focus. more conservative of the virus.
At a time when he is behind Biden in the polls and there is little evidence that the race is tightening, with Democrats poised to win House and Senate seats, Trump predicted that the United States would see “the biggest red wave.” of the story on Tuesday.
“In five days we are going to win Florida and we are going to win four more years in the White House,” Trump said during the Tampa rally where he appeared with his wife, first lady Melania Trump.
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The way to 270
No swing state looms larger than Florida, prized for its 29 electoral votes and its role as a national barometer.
Trump’s path to re-election is virtually impossible without a victory there.
Biden’s visit on Thursday was preceded by events in recent days with former President Barack Obama, who won the state twice.
And vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris will campaign Saturday in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties to try to get voters to go to the polls on the last weekend of early voting.
At a time when millions of voters had already cast their votes in Florida, Biden’s campaign sent the former vice president to fuel turnout in the trusted Democratic stronghold of Broward County.
He then gathered voters with a megaphone at a voter activation center in Fort Lauderdale. And he ended the day in the critical Tampa revolving corridor, where the president had stopped hours earlier.
Although Biden had to interrupt his last rally in Tampa due to a downpour, he tried throughout the day to reject the president’s false claims about rampant voter fraud and what he sees as Trump’s efforts to suppress the vote, particularly from black and brown communities.
He knows that if you vote, he can’t win. He knows that when America votes, it rejects people like him, ”Biden said in Coconut Creek on Thursday morning.
“We choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division, and we choose science over fiction. And, yes, we choose the truth over the lie.
Fight for Latinos in Florida
Trump renewed his efforts to reduce Biden’s margins within Florida’s diverse Latino voting community.
In this last leg of the race, Biden is fighting to win over Latinos on the same level that Clinton did, as Democratic allies fear time is running out.
And both candidates presented their arguments to voters of Cuban, Venezuelan and Puerto Rican descent on Thursday.
But for all Trump’s optimism about a potential “red wave,” CNN’s polling poll shows Biden leading Trump in Florida 49% to 46% with no margin of sampling error.
With Trump heading to Green Bay and Biden heading to Milwaukee on Friday, the outlook looks even bleaker for the president in Wisconsin, who won by less than a percentage point in 2016 and where Biden leads Trump by a 9-point margin in the CNN poll poll.
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The president’s last-minute effort in Minnesota, which Clinton won last season, appears to be even more risky.
Biden had a double-digit lead over Trump last month in The Washington Post / ABC News poll there. Biden will host an afternoon drive-in event in St. Paul, while Trump will cap off his day with an evening rally in Rochester.
Late on Thursday night, the Trump campaign issued a statement protesting that attendance at Friday’s rally will be limited.
“Thanks to the suffocating free speech dictates of Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison, only the first 250 people will be admitted,” the Trump campaign said in a press release.
“Without a doubt, Minnesota Democrats expected the president to just cancel the event.
“But it will not allow partisan politicians to deprive people of their First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble to hear directly from the President of the United States.”
The two candidates are locked in a much tighter race in North Carolina, where Trump was heading Thursday night for an outdoor rally in Fayetteville, which he postponed due to high winds.
“I love you North Carolina,” Trump tweeted after the time change on Thursday. “Stay safe, see you Monday!”
No masks or distancing
One of the dangers for Trump in Florida is his creeping support among seniors, which has been fueled in part by widespread disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus and the fact that older voters have been disproportionately affected. by the covid-19.
Despite that vulnerability, the president downplayed the surge in coronavirus cases during his big rally in Tampa, where few supporters wore masks and there was no social distancing.
At one point, Trump told rally attendees: “We know about the disease. We distance ourselves socially. We do all the things we have to do… If you get close, wear a mask.
However, CNN’s Maegan Vázquez and Donald Judd reported that the majority of Trump’s crowd in Tampa were standing shoulder to shoulder, so crowded that several attendees required medical attention due to the heat.
Trump also praised Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the speed with which he has reopened his state.
CNN reported this week that the Republican governor traveled with Dr. Scott Atlas, Trump’s controversial pandemic adviser, throughout Florida in late August, while Atlas advocated limiting testing for covid-19 primarily to people experiencing symptoms.
The push by Trump’s two allies to cut the number of tests coincided with a steep drop in testing in Florida, according to CNN reports, and the state is now dealing with the surge.
Trump mocks Biden’s coronavirus precautions
Trump on Thursday also mocked Biden for following the guidelines of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
And he poked fun at Biden’s events where attendees are circled, as well as his car rallies, where voters are asked to stay in their cars to ensure proper distancing.
Although he boasts that his own rallies could draw tens of thousands of people, at a time when all the big-name medical experts are asking Americans to avoid mass gatherings, Trump claimed that the lower attendance prescribed by Biden’s campaign it is due to lack of enthusiasm.
“Now they’re trying to say it’s because of the covid,” Trump said. “They say that the fact that there is no one who shows up is because of the covid. No, it’s because nobody shows up, ”Trump said with a laugh in Tampa.
And I think that’s the definitive survey. And based on the numbers that we are getting, we will do really well on Tuesday. “
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Biden’s critique of Trump
Biden criticized Trump’s boast of security guidelines: “Donald Trump just held a super-spread event here again. It is spreading more than just coronavirus. It is spreading division and discord, “he said hours later in Tampa.
Earlier in Broward County, Biden chided Trump for refusing to listen to the science and attributed the pain, suffering and loss of more than 225,000 Americans to Trump’s “negligence.”
Millions of people are out of work, on the brink. They can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and Donald Trump has given up, ”Biden said.
“Donald Trump has waved the white flag, abandoned our families and surrendered to the virus. But the American people are not giving up. We do not give up. And surely we will not flinch, nor will I under any circumstances.
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