Trump, Biden make their pitches to voters in pivotal Pennsylvania

By Steve Holland and Ernest Scheyder LITITZ, Pa./CHESTER, Pa. (Reuters) - With eight days to go until the U.S. election, President Donald Trump addressed boisterous rallies in Pennsylvania while Democratic rival Joe Biden made a low-key appearance in the state considered crucial to the chances of victory for both men

Reuters October 27, 2020 05:10:36 IST
Trump, Biden make their pitches to voters in pivotal Pennsylvania

Trump Biden make their pitches to voters in pivotal Pennsylvania

By Steve Holland and Ernest Scheyder

LITITZ, Pa./CHESTER, Pa. (Reuters) - With eight days to go until the U.S. election, President Donald Trump addressed boisterous rallies in Pennsylvania while Democratic rival Joe Biden made a low-key appearance in the state considered crucial to the chances of victory for both men.

"We win Pennsylvania, we win the whole thing," the Republican president told cheering supporters in Allentown - the first of three stops in the state - as he predicted a win there despite trailing Biden in many opinion polls.

Biden made a small-scale appearance in the city of Chester, near Philadelphia, meeting with about a dozen campaign volunteers and speaking with reporters. Biden said he was "not overconfident about anything" and "with the grace of God" he would win Pennsylvania, the state where he was born.

"I think we're going to win Michigan, I think we're going to win Wisconsin. I think we're going to win Minnesota. I think have a fighting chance in Ohio. I think we have a fighting chance in North Carolina. We have a fighting chance in Georgia," Biden added, referring to other election battleground states.

Biden also stepped up his criticism of Trump's handling of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed roughly 225,000 Americans, saying, "The bottom line is, Donald Trump is the worst possible president, the worst possible person to lead us through this pandemic."

More than 60 million Americans already have cast ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election, a record-breaking pace that could lead to the highest U.S. voter turnout by percentage in more than a century.

Surging coronavirus cases in many parts of the country have dominated the campaign, along with news of a COVID-19 outbreak within Vice President Mike Pence's staff. Pence, due in Minnesota, tested negative for the coronavirus on Monday, his office said, after multiple senior aides tested positive over the weekend.

Despite Biden's solid lead in national opinion polls, the contest appears tighter in the most critical battleground states that could decide the outcome. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted from Oct. 20-26 gave Biden a narrow advantage over Trump in Pennsylvania.

A state where voters can swing toward either major party, Pennsylvania has been heavily courted with frequent visits by both candidates. Trump went from Allentown to Lititz and then was due to head to Martinsburg. Trump also planned multiple stops in Michigan and Wisconsin this week, as well as visits to Arizona, Nebraska and Nevada.

Trump told reporters he expects to win Pennsylvania by a larger margin than the narrow one he achieved in defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Addressing supporters, Trump touched on what he called "an existential" issue for Pennsylvania, Biden's comment during last week's presidential debate that if elected he would "transition" the United States away from oil and natural gas.

"He wants to go with windmills that are made in Germany and China," Trump said, adding, "Biden's plan is an economic death sentence for Pennsylvania's energy sector."

In Chester, Biden defended his stance, saying, "I'm not shutting down oil fields. I'm not eliminating fracking. I'm investing in clean energy." Biden previously said the country should eventually replace oil with solar, wind and other forms of non-polluting power, adding that his plan for a more climate-friendly economy would create high-paying jobs and boost U.S. businesses.

PANDEMIC POLITICS

Record numbers of new U.S. COVID-19 cases in recent days have offered Biden's campaign a chance to remind voters of how Trump and his allies have played down the advice of public health experts to wear masks and observe social-distancing guidelines to battle the pandemic.

Trump lashed out at Biden on Monday, calling him "a pathetic candidate" while again asserting that his administration was "doing a great job" against the pandemic and saying again that the United States was "absolutely rounding the corner."

Biden again denounced White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' comments on Sunday that the Trump administration was "not going to control the pandemic," and was instead focused on vaccines and therapeutics. Trump earlier on Monday disagreed with Meadows, saying "absolutely the opposite" was true.

Pence spoke at a campaign event in Hibbing, Minnesota. Police confirmed that there were more than 650 people in attendance, exceeding Minnesota state health guidelines to restrict crowds to 250 people amid the pandemic. Pence has headed the White House coronavirus task force.

Trump in Lititz, Pennsylvania, criticized international trade entities and complained about economic powerhouse China's status as a developing nation under World Trade Organization rules. "We want to be a developing nation also," Trump said.

Trump also won cheers from supporters when he touted his nomination of conservative appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court "to defend our God-given freedoms."

The Republican-led Senate was expected to confirm Barrett to the lifetime job later in the day.

(This story refiles to add Biden's name to first paragraph)

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal, Michael Martina, Daphne Psaledakis, Lisa Lambert, Mike Stone and Ernest Scheyder; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Howard Goller)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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