MUSKEGON, MICH. – US President Donald Trump on Saturday discussed fear tactics by accusing the left of trying to “destroy the American way of life” in a late re-election to voters in Michigan and Wisconsin – two states in the Midwest who were instrumental in his victory in 2016 but may now elude him.
In back-to-back rallies, Trump accused the left of wanting to “erase American history” and “purge American values”. He has argued, baselessly, that his Democratic rival Joe Biden will put communities at risk.
Trump delivered the grim message as he faces headwinds not only in national polls, which show Biden leading, but also in major battlefield surveys. His comments come after his campaign, with far less money than Biden’s, largely withdrew from television advertising in the Midwest, shifting much of its money to Sun Belt states such as Florida, the North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia, as well as Pennsylvania.
As he tries to energize his base and prevent voters on the fence from turning against him, Trump has sought to portray Democrats as “anti-American radicals” and said moderates have “a moral duty. “to join the Republican Party.
“The Democratic Party that you once knew does not exist,” he said.
It was the same question after question, as he claimed in hyperbolic terms that Biden’s election would cause “the greatest depression in our country’s history” and “turn Michigan into a refugee camp.”
Addressing the coronavirus crisis, Trump warned that Biden would “shut down the country, delay the vaccine and prolong the pandemic.” Public health experts say the country would be in much better shape if the Trump administration had taken more aggressive action early on.
And as he repeatedly predicted victory, Trump appeared to struggle throughout the day with the prospect that he could indeed lose in November.
In Michigan, he joked that in January he “had better be president.” In Wisconsin, he wondered how he would deal with a loss.
“Can you imagine if I lose? I will have lost to the worst candidate in American political history,” he said. “What do I do?”
Trump continued to hold rallies despite the threat of the coronavirus, which hospitalized him several days earlier this month.
Wisconsin broke the record for new positive virus cases on Friday – the third time this has happened in a week. The state also hit record levels of daily deaths and hospitalizations last week.
But there was little evidence of concern among the thousands of supporters Trump drew to the two states, where members of the public stood tightly together in the cold, mostly without masks.
Trump continued to call on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reverse the restrictions that remain in place to try to stop the spread of the virus, prompting the crowd to break into a “Lock Her Up!” song. (The same chant also erupted after mentioning her 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.)
Whitmer, a Democrat, was at the center of a kidnapping plot by anti-government extremists who were angry with the lockdown measures. Thirteen men were indicted in connection with the project, which planned to storm the state capital and hold some sort of trial for the governor.
“You have to ask your governor to open your state and open your schools. Schools have to be open, right?” said Trump, who also praised the role of federal law enforcement in diverting the conspiracy.
Whitmer digital director Tori Saylor urged Trump to stop.
“Whenever the president does this at a rally, the violent rhetoric against him immediately escalates on social media,” she tweeted. “It has to stop. It just has to stop.
Biden, meanwhile, had no public events scheduled for Saturday. But in a note to supporters, campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon cautioned against complacency.
“The reality is this race is much closer than some of the pundits we see on Twitter and on TV would suggest,” she wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “If we’ve learned anything from 2016 it’s that we can’t underestimate Donald Trump or his ability to fight his way through the final days of a campaign, through the slanders or underhanded tactics he uses. disposes. “
Trump has an aggressive campaign schedule in the coming days, with rallies scheduled for Sunday in Nevada, Monday in Arizona and Tuesday in Pennsylvania.
But Trump’s agenda portends concerns. On Friday, he campaigned in Georgia – a state that no Republican presidential candidate has lost since 1992 but where polls show Trump and Biden in close competition. Trump also had to woo voters in Iowa, which he increased by nearly 10 percentage points four years ago.
The latest campaign fundraising figures for Team Trump suggest he is likely the first modern-day sitting president to face financial disadvantage. After building a massive financial advantage, his campaign spent hugely, while Biden kept spending low and benefited from a wave of donations that saw him raise nearly $ 1 billion over the years. last three months. This gives Biden a huge cash advantage just over two weeks before the election.
Trump claimed on Saturday that he would be “the greatest fundraiser in political history” if he tried, but didn’t want to make calls and didn’t need the money.
Slodysko reported from Washington.
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