WHITE HOUSE - On his final day of campaigning to try to persuade voters to allow him to remain U.S. president for another four years, Donald Trump declared that in his second term, “we will drain the Washington swamp and we will save the American dream.”
The president on Monday in North Carolina emphasized an economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic, promising “we will mass distribute the vaccine within a few short weeks.”
Health officials, including those in Trump’s administration, predict most Americans are unlikely to be inoculated before early or mid-2021.
Trump, at the first of Monday’s five rallies in four states, said his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, if elected, “will turn America into a prison state” through lockdowns to combat the virus.
Biden said Monday in Cleveland, Ohio, that “the first step to beating the virus is beating Donald Trump.”
In Miami on Monday, Biden’s former boss and Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, characterized the president as a COVID-19 “super-spreader” for holding packed campaign rallies and White House events.
The pandemic has overshadowed other issues in the presidential campaign with COVID-19 cases spiking in recent weeks in many of the U.S. states expected to decide the presidential election.
The coronavirus has killed more than 231,000 people and infected nearly 9.3 million in the United States, the most of any country in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“We’re done with the chaos, the tweets, the anger,” Biden said of Trump at the midday drive-in rally in Cleveland. “The character of America is literally on the ballot,”
National polls show the former vice president with about an eight-point lead, but the race is significantly tighter in the swing states that will decide the victor.
The common stop on the Monday itineraries of both candidates was Pennsylvania, an eastern U.S. state where Biden has been ahead in recent polls, but which Trump won in 2016. The winner of Pennsylvania earns 20 of the 270 electoral votes a candidate needs to earn a four-year term in the White House.
Trump on Monday held a rally at the Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport, while Biden addressed supporters at three socially distanced drive-in events in the state.
Biden campaign events in Pennsylvania also featured remarks and performances by entertainers Lady Gaga, Patti LaBelle, John Legend and Common.
“We all know that this could come down to Pennsylvania. … Vote like your life depends on it. Vote like your children's lives depend on it, because they do,” Lady Gaga said in Pittsburgh before taking a seat at the piano and singing several songs interspersed with appeals for Pennsylvanians to vote for Biden.
Trump is ending his campaigning with a late evening rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a replay of his 2016 finale in a state Hillary Clinton was expected to win.
Trump on Monday reiterated his desire to know the outcome of the election by late Tuesday. He again criticized the United States Supreme Court for allowing Pennsylvania to count absentee ballots as late as Friday, so long as they are postmarked by November 3.
In between his rallies in Traverse City, Michigan, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, Trump tweeted that extended counting of ballots in Pennsylvania “will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!”
Twitter later flagged the tweet saying, “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.” And added a link where people could learn more.
A few minutes later, the president told reporters traveling on Air Force One that the Supreme Court’s decision is “a very dangerous thing for our country. And I hope the Supreme Court has the wisdom to change it, because they can't let it stand. All they have to do is look at the commentators on television that are experts at this.”
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Way told lawmakers in September the U.S. has not seen "any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise."
Trump on Sunday denied media reports that he has told confidants he will declare victory election night even if the Electoral College outcome is unclear.
Obama, in Miami’s Little Havana on Monday, said “that’s not something that a leader of a democracy does. That’s something a two-bit dictator does.”
Results from Election Day will not be official until weeks later. The deadlines vary by state, with a few reporting within a week but many not requiring final results to be reported until late November or early December.
Most years, the winner is clear before the official results with media organizations making projections based on tabulations from individual voting precincts.
This year a record number of people have cast early ballots — at least 98 million — and with many of those coming by way of mail-in ballots due to concerns about the coronavirus, the counting in some states could be slower than usual.