Trump, Biden converge in battleground Midwest: US election news

With four days left until Election Day, both campaigns are focusing on critical battleground states

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally in St. Paul, Minnesota [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally in St. Paul, Minnesota [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]
  • Four days until Election Day, Donald Trump and Joe Biden both campaigned in Midwestern battleground states.
  • Trump seized on a message that the economy is recovering, a day after a report showed GDP growth of 33 percent.
  • More than 85 million US citizens have cast ballots in early voting – equivalent to 60 percent of all ballots counted in 2016, the United States Elections Project shows.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Jihan Abdalla. and William Roberts.

Trump campaigns before limited crowd in Minnesota

“I did not forget you because we were given a very, very hard time by your so-called leaders,” President Trump told a crowd in Rochester, Minnesota, that was limited to 250 persons.

“Your democratic governor tried to shut down our rally, silence the people of Minnesota and take away your freedom and your rights,” Trump said.

“They thought we would cancel, a word they are very familiar with, cancel. Cancel culture,” he said.

“We saw thousands and thousands of people over there with cars, they go for miles. What a shame.”

Trump has been drawing crowds of several thousand people to airport rallies elsewhere, resulting in some cases to increased infection rates in local communities. State authorities in Minnesota cited the risk of spread of the coronavirus in enforcing a rule against large gatherings.

President Donald Trump greeted supporters in Rochester, Minnesota [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Trump campaigns in Wisconsin, says he’s winning

President Donald Trump campaigned at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, claiming he’s winning the state despite opinion polls suggesting Democrat Joe Biden has a lead in the key Midwest state.

“If we win Wisconsin, you know what, it’s over,” President Trump said.

“I treated Wisconsin very well. Four days from now we’re going to win this state and we are going to win four more beautiful years,” Trump said.

Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 percent of the vote in 2016.

President Donald Trump speaks during his campaign rally at Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport in Wisconsin [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Kamala Harris campaigns in Texas, hits Trump on COVID-19 failures

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris criticized President Donald Trump for failing to properly handle the coronavirus pandemic.

“This pandemic, over 220,000 people, in just the last several months, have lost their lives. Many, many without family members nearby to hold their hand because of the nature of this,” Harris said at a drive-in rally in McAllen, Texas.

“Meanwhile, you have the commander in chief, the president of the United States who took to a stage and said we’re rounding the corner. Are you kidding me?!” Harris said.

Trump learned in late January how dangerous the virus would be and “covered up that information”, Harris said.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris at a campaign event in Fort Worth, Texas. [LM Otero/AP Photo]

Melania Trump heading to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania

First Lady Melania Trump will make solo campaign appearances for the president on Saturday in the battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

She will head to West Bend, Wisconsin, in the southeastern part of the state, followed by a stop in the northeastern Pennsylvania town of Wapwallopen.

The first lady made her first solo appearance of the 2020 campaign earlier this week in Pennsylvania. She also warmed up the crowd at a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida on Thursday.

First Lady Melania Trump campaigned with the president in Tampa, Florida on October 29, 2020. [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Differing messages in final campaign push

Trump held a rally in Michigan ahead of planned stops in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Biden visited Iowa before heading to Wisconsin and Minnesota on his busiest day of campaigning yet.

“A vote for me is to keep and create auto jobs and all sorts of jobs in Michigan, where they belong,” Trump said in Waterford Township outside Detroit.

He then fired off a slew of tweets blasting his opponent.

In Iowa, where polls show a tight race, Biden said Trump’s failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic had cost lives and sent the economy into a tailspin.

“One in six businesses is now out of business because he won’t act,” Biden said at a drive-in rally at the Iowa state fairgrounds in Des Moines.

“We cannot afford four more years of Donald Trump,” he said.​

Facebook suspends political and new group recommendations

Facebook confirmed it was temporarily halting recommendations for all political groups and any new groups in the run-up to the election.

Facebook groups are communities that form around shared interests. Public groups can be seen, searched and joined by anyone on Facebook.

Ahead of the US vote, several watchdog and advocacy groups have pushed for Facebook to limit algorithmic group recommendations, arguing that some Facebook groups have been used as spaces to spread misinformation and organise extremist activity.

Biden tells hard-hit Iowa he has a coronavirus plan

Speaking at a drive-in rally in Iowa, Biden rattled off a litany of statistics about how the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the state, which hit a daily record number of cases and hospitalisations this week, and how this has led to steep job losses since the pandemic hit.

He charged that “Donald Trump has given up” and pledged to enact a plan to halt the spread of the virus. “Unlike Donald Trump, we will not surrender to the virus,” he told the crowd, to honks from the cars gathered.

While Iowa is not a must-win for Biden, most polls there show a close race, and a loss there for Trump would complicate his path to re-election.

Supporters attend Democratic US presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden’s drive-in campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, the US [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

Poll roundup: Florida, North Carolina still tight

A flurry of final pre-Election Day polling results have rolled in, and in the latest batch, the battleground states of Florida and North Carolina continue to shape up to be true battlegrounds.

Three polls out of Florida in the past 24 hours show Biden and Trump to be neck and neck in the Sunshine State, where the president won by just over one percentage point in 2016.

Polls of likely Florida voters from Hill/HarrisX and Quinnipiac University show Biden with a three-point lead, which is within each poll’s margin of error.

The Hill/HarrisX poll has Biden at 50, Trump at 47 percent; Quinnipiac has the race at 45 to 42 favouring Biden. A Florida State University/YouGov poll has Biden leading by two points, or 48 to 46 percent.

In North Carolina, two polls show Trump and Biden virtually tied: The Hill/HarrisX poll has Biden up 49-48 percent and a North State Journal poll shows Trump leading 48-46 percent.

Interestingly, an NBC/Marist poll shows a six-point lead for Biden in North Carolina, which is still within the poll’s margin of error of +/-4.7 percent, but is a wider spread than any poll in North Carolina this month.

US President Donald Trump holding a campaign rally at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township, Michigan, the US [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Biden’s final leg: Pennsylvania

Biden will spend his final day before Election Day in a familiar battleground state: Pennsylvania, his home state and the one he has visited more than any other this campaign.

The Biden campaign announced that four of its core members – Biden, his wife, Jill, his running mate Senator Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff – will blanket the state Monday, with plans to “fan out across all four corners of the state.”

It remains unclear which cities the four will target, but Biden has so far travelled to Pennsylvania 11 times since being named his party’s nominee at the convention – and he will add another visit this weekend.

Biden speaks at a drive-in rally at Broward College, in Coconut Creek, Florida [AP Photo/Andrew Harnik]

From Michigan Trump talks cars, blasts governor

In a rally in Michigan, Trump talked up strong car sales and groused about the state’s governor.

Trump has made criticism of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer a staple of his rallies in the state. He told the crowd about the need to ease restrictions put in place because of COVID-19, prompting “Lock her up!” chants from the thousands who gathered.

Trump, referring to the chants and the media, said: “They blame me every time that happens.”

Trump to appear in 14 rallies before Election Day

Trump’s campaign announced that the president will be speaking at 14 rallies over the next three days.

Trump will be appearing in events in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Wisconsin – all states that are critical to his re-election bid.

Campaigns will wrap up on Monday night.

A Trump supporter gesturing four more years as US President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township, Michigan, the US [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre endorses Trump

Former National Football League player Brett Favre endorsed Trump in a tweet on Friday, joining a slew of other high-profile athletes, including golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

“My Vote is for what makes this country great, freedom of speech & religion, 2nd [Amendment], hard working tax paying citizens, police & military,” Favre wrote on Twitter. “In this election, we have freedom of choice, which all should respect. For me & these principles, my Vote is for @RealDonaldTrump.”

Trump complains about Minnesota rally limits

Trump told reporters as he left the White House in his signature hyperbole, “We got the biggest crowds in the history of politics and I think you will all be witness to that.”

Trump has been drawing thousands of supporters, most not wearing masks, to rallies across the country despite soaring numbers of coronavirus cases, mostly to little opposition from local leaders.

But officials in Rochester, Minnesota have insisted Trump abide by a 250 cap on large events.

Trump complained that “25,000 people want to be there. And they say you can only have 250 people. They thought I’d cancel. But I’m not canceling and we’ll find out what happens.”

Trump says no decision on Election Night venue

Trump said there has been no final decision on where he will spend Election Night.

“We haven’t made a determination. We have certain rules and regulations, you know,” Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving on a campaign trip.

The New York Times reported that the president dropped plans to appear at the Trump International Hotel in Washington and will likely watch the returns from the White House on Tuesday evening.

The city has said the streets on blocks around the White House will be closed to parking on Election Day and the following day, with intermittent street closures possible.

“So we have a hotel I don’t know if you’re allowed to use it or not,” Trump said. “But I know the mayor has shut down Washington, DC, and if that’s the case, we’ll probably stay here or pick another location.”

US President Donald Trump before boarding Air Force One as he departs Washington for campaign travel to Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, the US [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Trump departs White House, addresses reporters

As Trump departed the White House, he stopped to answer a few questions from a group of journalists.

He said his plans for the night of the election have not yet been finalised.

He predicted he would do well in the battleground states Texas, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and that he would “flip” Minnesota – a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

He confirmed he met with rapper Lil Wayne, who Trump said had asked for the meeting, and called him “a nice guy.”

He said he feels good about his election odds, and predicts the Republicans will win a majority in the US House of Representatives.

“I think we’re going to do very well in the Senate”, Trump said, though he acknowledged the Senate is “a little bit more complex”.

Hawaii 2020 turnout surpasses 2016 turnout

After Texas, Hawaii became the second state to surpass its 2016 turnout, according to the United States Elections Project, with 457,294 ballots already submitted, representing about 105 percent of the state’s turnout four years ago.

Texas early voting exceeds total of all 2016 ballots

Texans have already cast more ballots in the presidential election than they did during all of 2016 – an unprecedented surge of early voting in a state that was once the country’s most reliably Republican, but that may now be drifting towards battleground status.

More than nine million ballots have been cast as of Friday morning in the nation’s second-most-populous state, exceeding the 8,969,226 cast in 2016, according to officials tallies.

Read more here.

A staff member distributes water and snacks in front of the Democracy is Delicious food truck, powered by Pizza to the Polls and Uber Eats, in Houston, Texas [Michael Wyke/AP Images for Pizza to the Polls]

Biden working for votes ’til the last minute’

Candidate Biden said he does not “take anything for granted” as he launched into his busiest day of the general election campaign on Friday, with stops in three Upper Midwest states.

Biden will appear at drive-in rallies in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

While Iowa and Wisconsin are swing states that Trump won in 2016, Minnesota is one where Hillary Clinton was victorious.

Biden told reporters that he is “not concerned” about Minnesota. He said he was visiting the state because of its proximity to Iowa and Wisconsin, adding, “We’re gonna work for every single vote up ’til the last minute.”

Trump seizes on new economic data, releases new ads

Touting newly released data from the US Department of Commerce showing that the economy grew by an annualised rate of 33.1 percent in the third quarter, Trump releases two new advertisements.

Despite beating expectations, the new data leaves the economy 3.5 percent below where it was at the end of 2019.

Voters say the economy is one of the most important issues they are weighing during this presidential election. Roughly half of the 22 million jobs lost during the pandemic have been recovered, but new hiring is slowing.

Trump Minnesota rally capped at 250 at state insistence

Trump’s campaign says it will cap his planned rally in Rochester, Minnesota to 250 people – at the insistence of state and local officials.

The announcement comes as Trump’s campaign sought to shift the venue to a nearby business but ultimately reversed course and moved ahead with the rally at the airport.

Trump has packed thousands of supporters, most not wearing masks, into similar rallies across the country, despite the raging coronavirus pandemic.

“Thanks to the free speech-stifling dictates of Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison, only the first 250 people will be admitted,” the campaign said in a statement.

Democratic US presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden during a campaign stop at the Victory Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

Trump and Biden make duelling trips to battleground states

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will cross battleground states in the US Midwest, as they head into the final weekend before election day.

Trump will hold rallies on Friday in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, while Biden has planned stops in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa on his busiest day of campaigning during the general election race.

Michigan and Wisconsin were two of the three historically Democratic industrial states, along with Pennsylvania, that narrowly voted for the Republican Trump in 2016, delivering him an upset victory.

Minnesota, which has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972, is one of the few Democratic states that Trump is trying to flip this year.

Catch up on yesterday’s updates here.

Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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