US elections: Trump and Biden rally in Florida, showing off contrasting styles

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to reporters outside the Delaware State Building after casting his ballot.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to reporters outside the Delaware State Building after casting his ballot.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • The presidential rallies took place in Florida on Thursday.
  • Joe Biden and Donald Trump used the opportunity to talk Covid-19.
  • The election is on 3 November.


US President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden rallied supporters on Thursday in the closely fought state of Florida, highlighting their contrasting approaches to the resurgent coronavirus pandemic as the clock ticks down to Election Day.

Opinion polls show Biden with a significant edge nationally, but with a tighter lead in the battleground states that play a decisive role in the final result.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday showed Trump had essentially moved into a tie with Biden in Florida, with 49% saying they would vote for Biden and 47% for the president.

With its 29 electoral votes, the state is a major prize in next Tuesday's election. Trump's victory in Florida in 2016 was vital to his surprise election win.

Thousands of people, many of them without masks, crowded together at an outdoor event in Tampa on Thursday to hear Trump mock his opponent, the former vice president.

"Could you imagine losing to this guy? Could you imagine?" Trump said, adding he was confident of winning a second term.

Biden, in contrast, held a drive-in rally later at a college in Broward County, north of Miami, where attendees remained in their cars to avoid possible spread of the disease.

"Donald Trump has given up" on fighting Covid-19, said Biden.

With an eye on the important Latino vote in Florida, the Democrat pushed back on a Republican argument that Trump would be tougher on the left-wing governments in Cuba and Venezuela.

"President Trump can’t advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people and the Venezuelan people when he has embraced dictators around the world," Biden said. Many of South Florida's Latinos or their relatives fled Cuba or Venezuela.

Shadow

The pandemic that has upended life across the United States, killed more than 227 000 people and caused millions of job losses, is roaring back.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the threat of the pandemic, saying this week his opponents and the news media would stop paying attention to it right after the election, even as leaders in Europe scramble to contain a second wave and public health experts predict a grim winter in the United States.

Officials in Gastonia, North Carolina, warned people who attended an 21 October Trump rally there that two people who took part tested positive for Covid-19.

"Because of the large number of potential contacts from the rally, and the inability to alert them directly, the community is being notified so they can assess their own risk and take appropriate actions," officials said.

Trump's own White House coronavirus task force is warning of a persistent and broad spread of Covid-19 in the western half of the United States, including in a number of states that will play an important role in the election.

"We are on a very difficult trajectory. We're going in the wrong direction," Dr Anthony Fauci, task force member and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNBC on Wednesday night.

The Republican president hailed figures released on Thursday that showed the US economy grew at an unrivaled annualized pace of 33% in the third quarter because of a huge federal pandemic relief program.

"So glad this great GDP number came out before 3 November," Trump wrote in a tweet. It is doubtful, however, whether economic data this close to Election Day can influence the outcome. Biden can point out that US output remains below its level in the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic hit.

Voting

More than 80 million Americans have already cast ballots in the presidential election, according to a tally on Thursday from the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida, setting the stage for the highest participation rate in over a century.

After a night of rainfall and thunderstorms due to Hurricane Zeta, early voting precincts in Georgia were experiencing power outages and some mobile voting sites were blocked off due to fallen trees.

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