PENSACOLA (AFP) – United States (US) President Donald Trump launched an intense last-ditch reelection push on Friday in Florida, insisting that Covid-19 is disappearing, while frontrunner Joe Biden hammered his message that the President had abdicated responsibility for a pandemic that is actually surging.
With 50 million people having already cast early ballots, Biden has a firm lead in national polls, as well as in most of the battleground states like Florida that typically decide the winner of US presidential elections.
The drama of the final Trump-Biden televised debate on Thursday was thought unlikely to move the needle significantly.
But Trump had pulled off a stunning upset when he defeated the favourite Hillary Clinton in 2016 and he will now make a grueling series of campaign stops through the battlegrounds to try and repeat that feat.
Targetting the politically powerful seniors’ vote in Florida, Trump began with a rally in the famous retirement community The Villages, where he told a large crowd that all Biden talks about is “Covid, Covid, Covid” to try and “scare people.”
“We’re going to quickly end this pandemic, this horrible plague,” he said, underlining his consistent message that the virus is on a rapid decline, when in fact case numbers are spiralling upward again, with more than 220,000 Americans already dead. Referring to Biden’s warning of a “dark winter” ahead, Trump countered: “We’re not entering a dark winter. We’re entering the final turn and approaching the light at the end of the tunnel.”
He then pivoted to his own scare tactics, claiming that Biden would let in hordes of illegal immigrants that he said were comprised of “criminals and rapists and even murderers.”
“Joe Biden cares more about illegal aliens than he does about senior citizens,” he said.
Trump finished his day with a rally in Pensacola, Florida, where he told the cheering crowd that “11 days from now, we’re going to win my home state of Florida.”