President Donald Trump probably has to win Florida if he wants to be president for another four years. But while campaigning in Tampa on the same day his Democratic challenger was also visiting the region, the president continued to operate in his own version of reality.
There, his perceived grievances against the media, Democrats, presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter are key elements of his final address to voters as Trump attempts to secure another term in the White House, where he continued to lie and to say “if we have (a vaccine) or not, it is round the corner”, about the pandemic.
He continued to downplay the severity of COVID-19 while speaking in a state that was hit hard by the pandemic this summer and 16,648 Florida residents have died, according to state coronavirus data, as a host of unmasked faces could be seen behind him, clapping him on.
“If you approach, wear a mask, always controversial, it’s not controversial to me, you approach, you wear a mask, social distancing, social distancing,” Trump told a crowd of people following not that advice. “You know the bottom line though, you’re going to get better. You will be better. If I can get better, anyone can get better. And I improved quickly. “
With Biden and Trump appearing in Tampa on Thursday days before the polls close, a close race between the two is clear. The latest NBC News / Marist poll places the former vice president four percentage points ahead of Trump among likely voters. And a Monmouth poll released Thursday found Biden edging Trump by six points in a high turnout situation and leading by four points in the low turnout results.
In dueling speeches, Trump criticized Biden for having an agenda that would “devastate the Hispanic American community,” in another act of exaggeration without any evidence after previously calling Biden “the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics “.
And in his own remarks, Biden later that night at the Florida State Fairgrounds, where Biden took the stage with a mask he removed before starting to speak, the country’s death toll and the number of people lost in Florida were mentioned by the former. vice president from the start.
Trump has “given up,” Biden said, as he attacked the president’s handling of the pandemic. The president has “given up the white flag, abandoned our families and surrendered to this virus,” Biden said.
“Donald Trump just had a super spreader event here again,” Biden said. “They are spreading more than just coronavirus. It spreads division and discord. We need a president who will bring us together. Do not separate us.
The differences between the two presidential candidates were striking not only in their messages, but also in the way they approached holding events in the Tampa area during the pandemic. Trump drew a large outdoor crowd to a makeshift gathering place Thursday afternoon in a parking lot near the stadium used by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the latest example of the campaign encouraging the kind of large rally that alerts experts of health.
A campaign aide clarified that Biden’s drive-in event later that night had been ticketed and needed masks. Biden also arranged a similar stop in Broward County, Fla. Earlier today. The Biden campaign’s event mitigation efforts also include social distancing and the “mandatory wearing of masks” according to the aide, who also noted that their events followed state capacity restrictions.
Crowd video on a live broadcast of the president’s rally showed no social distancing around the stage and misuse of Trump fans’ sea masks. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who aggressively rolled back restrictions in the state, appeared at the Trump rally on Thursday, without a mask and throwing hats at the crowd before the president took the stage. On two occasions when DeSantis was speaking, the governor had to stop his remarks to help direct a doctor to help someone in the crowd. NBC News later reported that 12 people attended hospital linked to the event which saw 87 degree heat.
Trump’s rally in Tampa came as the county he calls home still has “a substantial spread of COVID,” said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, an epidemiologist at Florida International University.
“We’ve had an increase in cases in Florida recently so I think it’s very risky for people to get together in large groups right now and they really need to be careful,” Trepka said. “And if people don’t, we risk fueling the transmission that we currently have in the state.”
The stadium near Trump’s event is an early voting site, which prompted the county election office supervisor to make it clear in a statement Wednesday that Florida law banned the election campaign “ under 150 feet from an early voting site, but the election office supervisor can not ban the campaign. activities outside this “no-solicitation zone”. “
“The rally and activists will be outside this area,” the office said in its statement.
Trump has focused on winning Florida, and losing the state would likely spell disaster for his re-election chances. He and Vice President Mike Pence have appeared in the state several times this month.
That goal included Trump’s return to the election campaign with a rally in Sanford, Florida earlier this month, a week after leaving the hospital after being treated for COVID-19. This event worried both health experts and some in the community as they highlighted concerns about the behavior and the bad example the president was setting amid the pandemic.
The best substitutes for the Democratic ticket were active in Florida at the close of the campaign, including former President Barack Obama who hesitated for his former number two in Orlando when in-person voting was already underway. Biden running mate Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) will land in the state on Saturday, making stops in three countries: Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade.
Winning Florida is crucial for Trump, said J. Edwin Benton, professor of political science at the University of South Florida, but it’s not as critical for Biden given his other possible routes to victory, even if a victory would still be a major success for the former. vice president campaign. And the glaring differences in the gatherings between the two in Tampa are symbolic, Benton said, of the way they are approaching the pandemic at this point.
“The loss of Florida will be the dagger at the heart of the Trump campaign,” Benton said of the possible outcome.
And as Biden closed the Florida campaign day between the two, the former vice president again clarified the contrast between him and Trump, pledging to put in place “a plan” to deal with the pandemic ” responsibly, bringing the country … together around testing, tracing, masking. “
“I’m not going to shut down the economy, I’m not going to shut down the country,” Biden said, responding to one of Trump’s constant attacks on him before the heavy rains start and the event ends . “I will stop the virus.”
-With additional reporting from Hanna Trudo
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