By Nikhila Natarajan
With a week left to go for election day on November 3, Trump is playing defence in states which delivered the White House in 2016 and where the virus is roaring back.
“All the Fake News Media wants to talk about is Covid, Covid, Covid,” has become the latest stump speech insert for Trump.
“We’re rounding the turn,” he assured Americans during his frenzied final week of campaigning through the same states he won in 2016 and where he is now trailing Joe Biden.
Democratic challenger Biden continues to lead Trump by an average of 3.8 points in six battlegrounds (RealClearPolitics).
Trump plans to hold a dizzying 11 rallies in the final 48 hours before polls close at a time when the US seven-day average of new cases is at its highest ever.
New infections are raging in Wisconsin, which Trump won by less than 23,000 votes in 2016. An average of four polls (Reuters, Susquehanna, Fox News, CNBC) conducted from October 16 gives Biden a 5.5-point lead.
Both Florida and Pennsylvania are emerging as must-win states for Trump in his re-election bid. Seen another way, Trump must carry at least one of the three rustbelt states he won in 2016: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan.
In Florida too, cases are climbing, the state recorded more than 4,000 new cases on October 26 alone.
Iowa, which Trump carried by more than 9 points in 2016, is now looking like a toss up. There too, new cases are ticking up.
On Sunday, the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows offered remarkable clarity on the Trump view of the pandemic response: “We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
With one week left to go, the suggestion is that this was always the intention. Trump’s rallies defy every public health guideline that his own Centers For Disease Control and Prevention ever wrote up.A
“It’s a choice between a Trump boom or a Biden lockdown,” Trump told thousands of maskless supporters in battleground Pennsylvania.
Biden is slamming Trump for “waving the white flag” in his pandemic response while Trump says Biden “waved a white flag on life” and mocks him for campaigning from his “basement”.
Despite the rousing rhetoric, even Trump’s acolytes agree that it’s incredibly hard to distract from the virus. The fear is real, it’s deeply personal and it’s everywhere.A
Average daily deaths are up 10 per cent over the past two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.
October 28, 2020 marks exactly nine months to the day since Trump got to know that the virus is exploding beyond China. From that moment on, Trump has slammed China, state governors, doctors, and “idiots” in his coronavirus task force when he is confronted with questions on a uniquely American catastrophe: More than 225,000 dead, more than 8.7 million sickened by the virus and hospitals are running out of sick beds one week before election day.