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President Donald Trump heads for Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska with a week left in the US presidential campaign

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Trump, Biden square off in key Midwestern states

US President Donald Trump drew another big crowd in Florida © AFP / Brendan Smialowski

Tampa, United States, Oct 29 – Donald Trump and Joe Biden square off with rallies in key Midwestern states on Friday as a resurgent coronavirus further highlights their sharp differences just four days before the US presidential election.

Even with the United States reaching another daily record in new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, President Trump stuck to his strategy of downplaying its dangerousness and calling for businesses to reopen.

He has also ramped up fear-mongering, warning of rampaging “socialists” and seeking to portray his Democratic challenger as intent on shutting the country down.

Charts showing historical voting results in US presidential elections in battleground states and forecasts for 2020. © AFP / Sophie RAMIS

Biden has sought to persuade the few remaining undecided voters that he would provide a steady hand on the wheel and heal America’s “soul,” calling Trump irresponsible.

The former vice president has held drive-in, socially distanced rallies, while Trump’s gatherings have often seen attendees ignore such guidelines and eschew masks.

The two candidates plan to be in three Midwestern states on Friday, with both campaigning in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Trump will also travel to Michigan and Biden also plans to be in Iowa.

President Donald Trupm (pictured at a rally in Tampa, Florida) has stuck to his strategy of downplaying the danger of the coronavirus and calling for businesses to reopen © AFP / Brendan Smialowski

Trump’s wins in Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa helped propel him to victory in 2016.

But polling averages from the RealClearPolitics.com site show Biden up in all four of those states, ranging from 6.5 percentage points in Michigan to just one point in Iowa.

Still, Democrats and Republicans alike have repeatedly warned of the unreliability of polls, pointing to Trump’s shock defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016 despite surveys showing her to be the clear favorite.

– Florida rallies –

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Trump and Biden are concentrating their efforts on battleground states that will decide the election in the days before the November 3 polls, and on Thursday both were in the crucial state of Florida.

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden says Florida would seal his victory © AFP / JIM WATSON

Trump, 74, held another raucous rally in Tampa, telling the cheering crowd that coronavirus lockdowns under Biden would banish normal life.

“They will allow you nothing,” the Republican said.

“We’re never going to lock down again…. We’re open for business,” he said, telling supporters that his own recent bout with Covid-19 proved that it can be beaten.

“You know, the bottom line is you get better,” he said.

But the pandemic, which has already taken 228,000 American lives, has shown its resilience and is undergoing a long-predicted second wave.

On Thursday more than 91,000 new US infections were recorded, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, the highest 24-hour total since the pandemic began.

Joe Biden held a drive in rally with social distancing © AFP / JIM WATSON

Trump however did receive good news Thursday in his argument that he is best placed to bring about an economic recovery.

New figures showed an annual growth rate of 33.1 percent in the third quarter — a jaw-dropping statistic that reflected the economy’s rebound from such a low base.

Biden, addressing a socially distanced drive-in event in Broward County, reminded supporters that of all the states there are few as important as Florida in deciding the outcome of tight elections.

Rebuffing Trump’s central charge, the 77-year-old emphasized his claim that he would bring responsible leadership after months of the White House downplaying the virus’ danger.

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“I’m not going to shut down the economy, I’m not going to shut down the country. I’m going to shut down the virus,” he said in Tampa.

While Trump mocks him for holding small campaign events, Biden said he was leading by example, instead of staging the president’s “super-spreader” events.

“The heart and soul of this country is at stake,” he said.

– Huge early voting –

Trump sets the pace with a frenetic schedule, but Biden’s strikingly quiet campaign is also revving up.

Former vice-president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, got caught in a rainstorm as he addressed voters in Tampa, Florida just five days before the US election on November 3, 2020 © AFP / JIM WATSON

After Florida, Trump flew to Fort Bragg in North Carolina for a meeting with troops. A planned rally in the toss-up state was postponed until Monday due to the weather, the campaign said.

Mother nature intruded on Biden’s Tampa rally too, as a heavy downpour forced him to cut his remarks short.

Trump defeated Clinton in Florida in 2016 but an NBC News/Marist poll released Thursday had Biden with a 51-47 point lead there.

A stunning 81 million Americans have already cast their ballots early in the hugely consequential election.

burs-mjs/mtp

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