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Trump Blankets Pennsylvania, While Obama Joins Biden On Michigan Trail

President Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Newtown, Pa., on Saturday — one of four stops in the crucial swing state.
Chris Szagola
President Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Newtown, Pa., on Saturday — one of four stops in the crucial swing state.

Update at 7:16 p.m. ET

While President Trump made a four-stop blitz in Pennsylvania, Democratic nominee Joe Biden reunited with his old running mate, former President Barack Obama, to turn out votes in pivotal Michigan.

And as Vice President Pence took the stage at two rallies in North Carolina, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, California Sen. Kamala Harris, hustled between events in South Florida.

The presidential campaigns on Saturday began the final weekend before Election Day by making efforts to drive up needed support in a handful of key states. The campaigning took place amid a startling rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, and the events highlighted the tickets' very different messages on the pandemic.

In Flint, Mich., Obama eviscerated Trump's efforts to downplay the ongoing severity of the pandemic and ridiculed his successor's "obsession" with crowd size and holding large rallies in states where outbreaks are spiraling out of control.

"When a country's going through a pandemic, that's not what you're supposed to be worrying about," Obama told people gathered at a drive-in event. "And that's the difference between Joe Biden and Trump right there. Trump cares about feeding his ego. Joe cares about keeping you and your family safe."

At the same time, Trump told a rally crowd in Newtown, Pa., that Democrats are playing up the pandemic's threat to affect the election. He promised the country will "never lock down again" and falsely asserted that Biden would invoke perpetual lockdown.

"There'll be no school, no graduations, no weddings, no Thanksgivings, no Christmas, no Easters, no Fourth of Julys," Trump said of a Biden presidency. "There will be nothing."

Trump's blanketing of Pennsylvania signals the key role the Keystone State may play in determining who wins the presidency. Biden himself campaigns there both Sunday and Monday. The polls are tightest in Pennsylvania out of the three reliably blue Great Lakes states — along with Michigan and Wisconsin — that Trump flipped in 2016.

Trump spent his final Saturday of campaigning mostly outside of Pennsylvania's major media markets, trying instead to turn out his base of more rural white voters and squeeze out as many low-propensity new voters as he can.

But he began the day speaking outside of a home used as Gen. George Washington's headquarters in Bucks County, in the Philadelphia suburbs. It's a county Hillary Clinton won in 2016 by fewer than 3,000 votes. Biden is expecting to do better there, as college-educated suburban women especially flee the Republican Party.

Trump, who lags in the state's polling average, predicted a "great red wave." But he also stoked fear about what might happen if a winner is not declared on election night.

"November 3rd is gonna come and go and you're not going to know and you're going to have bedlam in our country," Trump said. "You're going to have this period of nine days, seven days."

Indeed Pennsylvania is one swing state in which results may take days.

Biden, meanwhile, engaged in a turnout operation of his own on Saturday, joining up with Obama to hit two majority Black communities in Michigan, Flint and Detroit.

In 2016, Clinton won about 46,000 fewer votes in Detroit than Obama, the nation's first Black president, did in 2012. Trump won Michigan by just 10,000 votes.

"The power to change the country is literally in your hands," Biden said in Flint. "There is nothing he can do to stop the people of this nation from voting in overwhelming numbers and taking back this democracy."

Saturday was Biden's first in-person joint campaign trail appearance with the former president. Obama introduced his one-time vice president, saying, "Joe Biden is my brother. I love him," and diagnosed Democrats' stinging defeat in Michigan in 2016: "We got a little complacent the last election."

As he has all campaign, Obama stressed the importance of voting.

"The fact that you don't get 100% of what you want right away, that's not a good reason [not] to vote; you just gotta keep at it," Obama said.

Obama will head to Atlanta and South Florida on Monday. After holding three rallies herself in South Florida Saturday, Harris will fly to Georgia and North Carolina on Sunday. Biden heads to Pennsylvania on Sunday, and the Democratic ticket and their spouses are scheduled to barnstorm the state all day Monday.

Trump has five rallies scheduled on Sunday — in Michigan, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida — and has a similarly packed schedule on Monday.

At least 90 million Americans have already voted in the election, but tens of millions have yet to vote and will head to the polls in person on Tuesday.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: November 1, 2020 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story said President Trump indicated that the Supreme Court could help his chances of winning. That reference has been deleted because the president may have been speaking sarcastically.
Sam Gringlas is a journalist at NPR's All Things Considered. In 2020, he helped cover the presidential election with NPR's Washington Desk and has also reported for NPR's business desk covering the workforce. He's produced and reported with NPR from across the country, as well as China and Mexico, covering topics like politics, trade, the environment, immigration and breaking news. He started as an intern at All Things Considered after graduating with a public policy degree from the University of Michigan, where he was the managing news editor at The Michigan Daily. He's a native Michigander.