Trump and Biden are a stark contrast in battleground Florida

WION Web Team Washington, DC, United States of America Oct 30, 2020, 06.59 AM(IST) Oct 30, 2020, 07.09 AM(IST)

Donald Trump and Joe Biden Photograph:( Reuters )

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With its 29 electoral votes, the state is a major prize in Tuesday's election. Trump's victory in Florida in 2016 was vital to his surprise election win.

The incumbent US president, Donald Trump, and his Democratic rival Joe Biden rallied supporters on Thursday in the closely fought state of Florida. Their respective addresses at the rallies highlighted their contrasting approaches to the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.

With its 29 electoral votes, the state is a major prize in Tuesday's election. Trump's victory in Florida in 2016 was vital to his surprise election win.

Opinion polls show Biden with a significant edge nationally, but with a tighter lead in the battleground states that play a decisive role in the final result.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday showed Trump had moved into a tie with Biden in Florida, with 49% saying they would vote for Biden and 47% for the president.

Thousands of people, many of them without masks, crowded together at an outdoor event in Tampa on Thursday to hear Trump.

"Could you imagine losing to this guy? Could you imagine?" Trump said, adding he was confident of winning a second term.

Biden held "drive-in" rally in the same city -- where attendees remained in or near their cars to avoid the possible spread of the coronavirus. Supporters at the event wore masks, as required by Biden's campaign, although they did not always maintain social distancing.

Biden criticised Trump for holding what he termed a "super-spreader event" and attacked the president's repeated assertion that the country had moved past the worst days of the pandemic, despite rising cases nationwide.

"Donald Trump has waved the white flag, abandoned our families and surrendered to this virus," Biden said. "But the American people never give up; we never give in."

The pandemic that has upended life across the United States, killed more than 227,000 people and caused millions of job losses, is roaring back.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the threat of the pandemic, saying this week his opponents and the news media would stop paying attention to it right after the election, even as leaders in Europe scramble to contain a second wave and public health experts predict a grim winter in the United States.

Officials in Gastonia, North Carolina, warned people who attended an Oct. 21 Trump rally there that two people who took part tested positive for COVID-19.

Following his own bout with COVID-19, the president has had a hectic campaign schedule, holding as many as three rallies a day in different states, while Biden has taken a more measured tack, spending two days this week close to his home base of Delaware.

In all, he plans to visit 10 states in the last days of the campaign and will host 11 rallies in the final 48 hours, a campaign official said.

Biden's own Tampa speech was cut short by a sudden downpour. He is expected to travel to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa on Friday.

Meanwhile, more than 80 million Americans have already cast ballots in the presidential election. That surge includes more than 51 million ballots cast by mail, a long-standing practice of American elections that is surging in popularity because of the pandemic. State officials and experts have warned that it may take days or even weeks to tally them as some states have rules that forbid counting early votes before Election Day.

(with inputs)

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