President Trump predicted “chaos” and a lack of clarity about the president’s results until weeks after Election Day when he stormed Pennsylvania, while former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. made his first appearance with former President Barack Obama at an event in Michigan would have .
The last Saturday before Election Day featured traditional last-minute campaigns in battlefield states, amid the extraordinary rancor, streak, and sense of disruption that reflect a pandemic, economic downturn, and recurring protests and riots at the end of Mr. Trumps first term.
The duel plans showed the intensity with which the two campaigns are approaching the final days of the election and again highlighted the differences in their fundamental approach to the worst public health crisis in a century.
Mr Biden spoke of taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously, while Mr Trump mocked his opponent for focusing on the virus and falsely accused him of favoring “deadly” lockdowns.
Speaking in Newtown, Pennsylvania and Reading, Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump fueled fears of an election that remained unresolved after the November 3rd vote and the prospect that ballots would not count.
“They’ll wait for weeks,” Mr. Trump declared in Newtown as the votes were counted.
“Many, many days,” he continued. “So you’re going to watch on November 3rd. I think there is a very good chance that you won’t make a decision because Pennsylvania is very big. We’ll wait. November 3rd will come and go and we won’t know . And you will have chaos in our country. “
On his next stop in Reading, Mr. Trump mocked a Supreme Court decision denying a motion by the Pennsylvania Republicans to decide whether the state could accept ballots for three days after November 3.
“You see what’s going on, right?” Mr Trump said of Democrats. “Someone is going to play games and they just got an expansion. What is the expansion about? Don’t you want to hear November 3rd, we win, we lose? We win, we lose. Whatever.”
The president called the decision “disappointing” and added: “Many, many disappointing opinions from the Supreme Court. You talk about how we control the Supreme Court – well, we don’t control the Supreme Court. It was a terrible decision. “
The question of how long ballots can be accepted in battlefield states was a dominant question at the beginning of November 3rd. This also applies to the question of whether Mr Trump will try to declare victory if he is a leader in certain states on election day, regardless of whether they have been called in his favor.
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Mr Trump barely addressed the coronavirus pandemic on his first two stops other than to praise his administration, complained about Mr Biden’s focus on the pandemic, and falsely reiterated that the country was “rounding off” the number of daily news cases nationally has increased to nearly 100,000.
Mr. Obama, who performed with Mr. Biden at a drive-in rally in Flint, Michigan for their first stop of the day, ridiculed Mr. Trump as heartless.
Noticing Mr Trump’s unsubstantiated claim the day before that doctors were profiting from coronavirus death, Mr Obama said, “He cannot understand it, he does not understand the idea that someone would risk their life to save others, without trying to make money. “
Mr Trump continues to hold crowded rallies while the pandemic rages, and Mr Obama ridiculed him for being fixated on the crowd, asking, “Didn’t anyone come to his birthday party as a kid? Was he traumatized? “
For the past two weeks, Mr. Obama fought alone for Mr. Biden in Pennsylvania and Florida, but Saturday marked the first time in the general election that he and Mr. Biden fought together in person.
At the Flint event, Mr Biden praised Mr Obama and ripped Mr Trump out of the pandemic. He also relied on Mr Trump’s unsubstantiated statement made on Friday at a rally about doctors and coronavirus-related deaths.
“What the hell is wrong with this man?” Mr. Biden asked. “Excuse my language, but think about it. It’s perverted. He can believe it because he does nothing but for money. “
And he spoke at this year’s vote on the stakes for the nation.
“I don’t care how hard Donald Trump tries,” Mr. Biden told the crowd. “There is nothing – let me say it again – there is nothing he can do to prevent the people of this nation from voting in overwhelming numbers and taking this democracy back.”
Where both Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden fought on Saturday was as instructive as what both men said.
The two states were part of what is known as the Blue Wall – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, which took a democratic lead in the recent national elections but were critical to Mr Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Mr Trump has struggled in all three states throughout the 2020 campaign and is pushing to keep at least one of the three states as part of his map this year in an election cycle marked by a pandemic and economic recession. Pennsylvania is seen by Mr. Trump’s advisors as the most likely state of the three to win.
In Newtown, Bucks County, Mr. Trump gave a muffled speech, first speaking from the teleprompter, to several hundred people sitting in folding chairs in a field in front of a stage and dais.
The speech took place in front of the farmhouse where George Washington planned to cross the Delaware River. The small crowd sat close together, for the most part exposed. Unlike his other rallies, Mr. Trump’s campaign has not had strong supporters.
The President criticized Mr Biden’s record of trading in a state that has been hit by job losses in recent years and criticized Mr Biden’s comments on restricting fracking. He also defended his record on the coronavirus.
“We did an incredible job. At some point they will realize that, “Trump said after making fun of Mr. Biden for focusing too much on the virus. “We did an A-plus job. I’ll give us a D or maybe an F on public relations.”
After its third rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, a CNN reporter posted photos on Twitter of crowds looking for buses to exit the event at 41 degrees. This echoed the Omaha debacle last week when the campaign’s outdoor rally ended and the buses were nowhere to be found on a cold night.
A Trump campaign official on Saturday insisted there were dozens of buses and that it only took a while for the line to move.
Mr. Trump ended his day with a rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. He cackled at his supporters mocking Mr. Biden at his outdoor events by driving past and honking horns, then cheered his supporters as they surrounded a Biden campaign bus in Texas. Biden campaign officials said they had to cancel a scheduled event because Trump supporters tried to force the bus off the road.
“Everyone sees the picture of their crazy bus driving down the freeway, they are surrounded by hundreds of cars, they are all Trump flags everywhere,” Mr. Trump said with a chuckle.
And he tried to sow doubts about the safety of voting in Philadelphia, a city with a large black population similar to 2016.
“Are you going to mysteriously find more ballots?” He asked after the polls were completed. “Strange things have been known to happen, especially in Philadelphia.”
Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama ended with a drive-in rally in Detroit with hundreds of people waiting in cars at Belle Isle, a state park on an island in the middle of the Detroit River with sweeping views of the Detroit and Windsor skylines , Ontario.
Stevie Wonder appeared before they turned to the crowd. In his speech, Mr. Obama added another stab when speaking of Mr. Trump’s “obsession with crowds” and asked, “Isn’t Fox News paying enough attention to him?”
Mr Biden mocked Mr Trump for writing off more than $ 70,000 in business expenses paid for styling his hair during The Apprentice.
“I’ll tell you what, man,” said Mr. Biden. “I hardly have any hair, but I would rather have what I have.”
For many drawn to the rally, it was time for a change.
“The last four years have been hell,” said Miriam Pizana, who came to the event with her daughter Kristen. “We never knew the name of the chief of staff or the communications directors before, and now we know them all and nothing good.”
Kathleen Gray contributed to the coverage.