U.S. President Donald Trump was holding three large rallies in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin on Saturday while his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, focused on the battleground state of Pennsylvania where he held two drive-in campaign events.
Trump, the Republican incumbent, attacked the Democrats and the media for continuing to focus on the coronavirus, accusing them of deflecting what he termed scandals involving Biden and his son Hunter.
“You’re trying to scare people” by reporting on the pandemic, the president told reporters at the Columbus airport before his second rally. “Don’t scare people.”
At his first event in Lumberton, North Carolina, he spoke about testing for COVID-19, a day after the United States registered a single-day record number of cases.
"In some ways it’s good. In many ways it’s foolish," Trump said of increased testing. “Cases are up. If we tested half, cases would be half.”
The record number of cases gives “the fake news media something to talk about,” added the president.
Trump made the remark at a packed rally in defiance of pandemic social distancing guidelines in Lumberton.
At a second, similar event in Circleville, Ohio, the president said the coronavirus “is going away” but the media only talk about “cases, cases, cases” and not a drop in COVID-19 deaths.
Hospitalizations, however, for the virus are increasing in many states.
Prior to his Saturday appearances, Trump cast an early vote for himself in his home state of Florida, to which he switched his official residence from New York last year.
“It’s an honor to be voting,” the president told reporters immediately after depositing his ballot at a library in West Palm Beach after spending the night at his nearby Mar-a-Lago resort. “I voted for a guy named Trump.”
At Biden’s second event of the day, rock musician Jon Bon Jovi played three songs before the nominee addressed the drive-in rally in a high school parking lot in Dallas, Pennsylvania, where honking of horns substituted for applause.
“These days on the radio and at the [Trump] rallies on the TV, I always hear a lot of ‘me, me, me,’ but I really do believe that Joe believes in the power of we,” said the singer, a New Jersey native who spent boyhood summers in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The event took place in the pivotal county of Luzerne, which voted for the ticket of Barack Obama and Biden in 2012 but helped to deliver Pennsylvania to Trump four years ago.
Biden earlier in the day also held a socially distanced drive-in event in Bucks County, a suburban county near Philadelphia that Hillary Clinton captured by a slim margin in 2016.
On the coronavirus, the former vice president warned, “There’s going to be a dark winter ahead unless we change our way.”
Trump at his first rally of the day mocked that comment, sarcastically calling his opponent “a very inspiring guy.”
Obama, meanwhile, spoke Saturday at a drive-in rally in North Miami, Florida.
“What we do in the next 10 days will matter for decades to come,” said the former president.
Obama contended that his successor has failed in the job and “doesn’t even acknowledge the reality of what’s taking place across the country” with the pandemic.
Trump, said Obama, has treated the presidency “like a reality show to give himself more attention.”
Although the presidential election is less than two weeks away, more than 57 million people have already voted. Another 100 million or so are expected to cast ballots before a winner is declared.
Most nationwide polls show Biden comfortably ahead of Trump and the challenger with slight leads in key states expected to swing the outcome of the election.