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Trump, Biden trips illustrate calculations on voting map

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. (AP) — With Election Day just three weeks away, President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden concentrated Tuesday on battleground states both see as critical to clinching an Electoral College victory, tailoring their travel to best motivate voters who could cast potentially decisive ballots.

While Trump visited Pennsylvania, Biden hit Florida to court seniors, betting that a voting bloc that buoyed Trump four years ago has become disenchanted with the White House’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. It was Biden’s third visit to the state in a month, after making targeted appeals to other communities, including veterans and Latinos.

To Trump, “you’re expendable, you’re forgettable, you’re virtually nobody,” Biden said at a senior center in Pembroke Pines, about 20 miles from Fort Lauderdale.

The “only senior Donald Trump seems to care about” is himself, Biden added.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for Trump’s campaign, said in a statement that “Biden is playing politics with people’s lives over the virus.”

After frequently criticizing Trump for not doing enough to promote wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus, Biden was wearing two masks, an N-95 underneath a blue surgical mask, as he deplaned in Florida. Later in the day, he switched to his normal mode of donning just one.

Introducing Biden in Pembroke Pines, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz noted that “neither of these men will walk into the White House without the blessing of Florida seniors.”

“Much is made of the rise of the youth vote, and thank God for it,” the Florida congresswoman said. “But it’s residents 65 or older who still swing elections in the Sunshine State.”

Biden also held a drive-in rally designed to promote voter mobilization in the heavily African American community of Miramar. His swing coincided with a $500,000 donation from billionaire former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg to increase Democratic turnout in Miami-Dade County.

“I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president,” Biden said to supporters blaring their horns as they listened from cars. “I’ll work as hard for those who vote against me as those who vote for me.”

Boarding Air Force One to fly to Pennsylvania, Biden’s native state, Trump said he expects a large crowd. He wants to hammer home the claim a Democratic administration could limit fracking in areas where the economy is heavily dependent on energy. Biden has proposed only barring new leases on federal land, a fraction of U.S. fracking operations.

Biden “has handed control to the socialists, Marxists and left-wing extremists,” Trump plans to say, according to excerpts released by the White House. “If he wins, the radical left will be running the country — they are addicted to power, and God help us if they get it.”

It’s part of an effort to fire up a conservative base that Trump will have to turn out in droves to secure the 270 electoral votes needed to retain the White House. The president also campaigned in Sanford, Florida, on Monday and will head back to the state Friday.

Campaign travel on both sides comes against the backdrop of a second day of Senate hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Trump and top Republicans see a swift confirmation just weeks after the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a chance to energize conservatives. Trump mentioned those proceedings as he boarded his flight, saying, “Amy was doing incredibly well.”

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