The countdown is on.
With less than a week until polls close in the US presidential election, both sides have kicked into overdrive as the world watches one of the most divisive and bitterly contested elections in modern American history comes to a head.
On Tuesday (local time) Donald Trump visited Nebraska, as well as holding rallies in Michigan and Wisconsin – two states he won by narrow margins in 2016 but where polls show him now trailing Joe Biden – before stopping overnight in Nevada.
Former President Barack Obama was also back on the trail in the crucial state of Florida to boost the Democratic ticket and the hopes of his former vice president.
At a drive-in rally in Orlando, Mr Obama scolded the president for bemoaning the media’s focus on the coronavirus pandemic, saying he was jealous of the attention the virus was getting.
“He’s jealous of Covid’s media coverage,” he told the crowd. “If he had been focused on Covid from the beginning, cases wouldn’t be reaching new record highs across the country this week.”
It comes as nearly half a million people in the United States have contracted the novel coronavirus in the last seven days as the nation’s coronavirus death toll surpassed 225,000.
Mr Obama said the president had shown he was unwilling or unable to do the work of the presidency and was simply using the office like a reality TV show to enrich himself.
Right-wing network Fox News broadcast Mr Obama’s speech, much to the chagrin of the president, who complained to reporters about it and took aim on Twitter at the network for “playing Obama’s no crowd, fake speech for Biden.”
Mr Obama also slammed the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner over comments he made arguing that for the Trump’s administration’s economic policies to work, Black Americans had to “want to be successful”.
“[Kushner] says Black folks have to want to be successful,” Mr Obama said. “Who are these folks? What history books do they read? Who do they talk to?”
Mr Trump’s predecessor urged Democrats to vote in large numbers to avoid a repeat of the 2016 election when the controversial Republican narrowly won the battleground state and defeated Hillary Clinton.
“We have to leave no doubt. We can’t be complacent,” he told the crowd. “We were complacent last time. Folks got a little lazy, folks took things for granted, and look what happened. Not this time, not in this election.”
Meanwhile Mr Biden made a foray into traditional Republican territory on Tuesday by visiting Georgia, a major sign of confidence from his campaign that they can peel away Republican support from the president.
“I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I’ll work with Democrats and Republicans,” Mr Biden told voters who have not swung behind a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992.
“I’ll work as hard for those who don’t support me as for those who do. That’s the job of a president, a duty of care for everyone.”
In the coming days Mr Biden will also visit the key states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida.
It’s all hands on deck for both sides. On Tuesday, the Democrat’s VP pick Kamala Harris was speaking in Reno, Nevada, saying the “soul of the nation” was on the ballot paper next week.
Big crowd for Ivanka Trump rally
The president’s daughter sought to counterbalance the presence of Barack Obama by also stumping for her father in Florida on Tuesday.
While the Democrats have taken coronavirus safety precautions, the Trump campaign has sought to whip its base into a frenzy with large crowds at campaign events.
Long queues were seen outside the Ivanka Trump speech in Sarasota, a small city south of Tampa, which Trump campaigners were quick to promote.
— Pam Bondi (@PamBondi) October 27, 2020
Ms Trump, who is suspected of harbouring future political ambitions herself, implored attendees to reinstall her father for a second term, slamming his rival as a “socialist” who would “destroy America”.
She railed against so-called cancel culture saying: "We want a culture where differences of opinion and respectful debate are encouraged, not canceled ... where our country’s rich diversity is celebrated and where people of all backgrounds, races, genders and creeds have the chance to achieve their God-given potential.”
The 38-year-old told the crowd her father gave her a simple message to pass on: “Florida, get out and vote, tell them they’ve gotta vote, and tell them I love them.”
“Donald is a fighter. He loves this country and he fights for you every single day. For the first time in history, the citizens of this country get to hear directly and instantly from their President every single day through social media,” she said.
Melania Trump makes rare speech
Appearing in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, she sought to shift the blame of the coronavirus death toll to the Democrats, who she said tried to “put their own agendas ahead of the American people’s well-being” and focused on a “sham impeachment” instead of the coronavirus.
She also blasted Biden’s “socialist agenda” during the speech, while saying voting him in would “destroy America and all that has been built in the past four years”.
Mrs Trump said she doesn’t always agree with the way her husband says things.
“But it is important to hear that he speaks directly to the people he serves,” she said.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr was in Iowa on Tuesday seeking to shore up votes in the midwest state which swung back to the Republicans last election after voting for Obama for both his terms.
The polls have been remarkably stable up until this point. Without a significant last minute change, President Trump would require a big polling error in his favour if he's going to thread a narrow victory in the Electoral College voting system.
Polls will close early on Wednesday morning AEDT next week.
with Reuters, AP
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