US President Donald Trump is to hold campaign rallies in Florida and Georgia
Washington (AFP) - US President Donald Trump heads on Friday for the must-win states of Florida and Georgia, a longtime Republican stronghold which polls show may be within the reach of Democratic hopeful Joe Biden.
A Democratic presidential candidate has not won Georgia in nearly three decades and Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the Peach Tree State by 5.1 points in 2016.
A RealClearPolitics average of recent Georgia polls gives Biden a 1.2 point lead in the state and a Quinnipiac University poll even had the Democrat up by seven points.
Presidential travel in the final stretch of a campaign is precious and candidates tend to concentrate on the swing states that are rich in Electoral College votes.
Both Biden and Trump, for example, have made multiple trips to Florida, and the president is to hold two campaign rallies in the Sunshine State on Friday.
Georgia is seen as one of the reliably Republican southern states that is crucial to Trump’s path to victory on November 3 but it has been trending Democratic in recent years.
“Warning lights are blinking red (for Trump) and alarms are going off in the Peach Tree State,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said.
In the Quinnipiac poll of likely voters in Georgia – which Bill Clinton won in 1992 – 54 percent said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is to hold events in Michigan
Trump’s visit to Georgia is his second trip this week to a state he won handily in 2016 but where he is playing defense this time around.
On Wednesday, Trump held a campaign rally in Iowa, a Midwestern state which he won easily – by 9.4 points – in 2016 but which appears to be up for grabs.
A RealClearPolitics average of recent Iowa polls gives Biden a 1.2 point lead over Trump in the Hawkeye State – identical to his lead in Georgia.
- ‘Blue tsunami’ -
Opinion poll averages for Donald Trump and Joe Biden nationwide and in 6 key battleground states, as of October 16
While Trump visits Florida and Georgia, Biden will spend the day in Michigan, a state the Republican won narrowly in 2016 but where polls have him trailing this time around.
Biden is to deliver remarks on health care and address a meeting of faith leaders of the African-American community.
Biden has a double-digit lead in the national polls but Trump dismissed them in a tweet on Friday morning.
“Polls numbers are looking very strong. Big crowds, great enthusiasm. Massive RED WAVE coming!!!” he tweeted.
Trump’s optimism, however, is not shared by some leading members of his party, as Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse joined fellow Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas in expressing concern.
Sasse, in a telephone call with constituents this week obtained by The Washington Examiner, said a defeat for Trump looks “likely” and Republicans may also lose the Senate.
“I’m now looking at the possibility of a Republican bloodbath in the Senate,” Sasse said. “We are staring down the barrel of a blue tsunami.”
Sasse had harsh words for Trump, calling him “TV-obsessed” and “narcissistic.”
“The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor,” the Nebraska senator said.
“He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists.”
Sasse also criticized Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic which has left more than 217,000 people dead in the United States, saying he treated it like a “P.R. crisis.”
Trump and Biden are to hold a final debate on October 22.
They had been scheduled to hold one on Thursday but Trump backed out after it was changed to a virtual debate following the president’s Covid-19 diagnosis and they held rival town hall events instead.