By Staff, Agencies US President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden are set to chase votes in Florida, a state all but essential to the Republican's pathway to another term as both nominees turn their focus to encouraging voters to turn out on Election Day. More than 73 million Americans have already voted, absentee or by mail, and Trump and Biden are trying to energize the millions more who will vote in person Tuesday.
While the Election Day vote traditionally favors Republicans and early votes tend toward Democrats, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 227,000 Americans, has injected new uncertainty about the makeup of the electorate.
Trump and Biden will appear in Tampa hours apart Thursday, visiting the western end of the state’s Interstate 4 corridor, the area known for its rapid residential growth, sprawling suburbs and status as an ever-changing, hard-fought battleground during presidential elections.
The visit comes as Biden has framed his closing argument to voters on responsible management of the COVID-19 pandemic and Trump promises that the nation is on course to "vanquish the virus" even as it sets records for confirmed new infections.
"Even if I win, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic," Biden said Wednesday during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware.
"I do promise this: We will start on day one doing the right things." Trump spent Wednesday in Arizona, where relaxed rules on social distancing made staging big rallies easier.
Thousands gathered in close proximity without wearing masks - a trend that was expected to continue through more than a dozen events in the final sprint to Election Day.
Biden, meanwhile, heads later in the week to three more states Trump won in 2016: Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, where he’ll hold a joint Saturday rally with former President Barack Obama.
The pandemic’s consequences were escalating, with deaths climbing in 39 states and an average of 805 people dying daily nationwide - up from 714 two weeks ago.
The sharp rise sent shockwaves through financial markets, causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop 900-plus points.
Trump, who frequently lauds rising markets, failed to mention the decline Wednesday.
But he promised that economic growth figures for the summer quarter, due Thursday, would be strong, declaring during a rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, "This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression."