WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump is campaigning in key battleground election states and blanketing many Americans’ computer screens with his political ads during former Vice President Joe Biden’s Democratic convention week.
Trump is visiting four states that could prove crucial for his chances to win a second four-year term in the White House, starting Monday with stops in the midwestern cities of Mankato, Minnesota and Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Then he is flying to the southwestern city of Yuma, Arizona on Tuesday and to near Biden’s boyhood home in the northeastern city of Scranton, Pennsylvania on Thursday, the same day Biden makes his presidential nomination acceptance speech to oppose Trump in the Nov. 3 national election.
In his successful 2016 campaign for the White House, Trump reveled in the cheers from sign-waving supporters at large public rallies. But both the Trump and Biden public campaigns have been sharply curtailed this year by the coronavirus pandemic and the need to keep their adherents socially distanced from each other.
Trump attempted to stage an arena-sized rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June, but the crowd that showed up was far short of Trump campaign expectations. His swing through the four states this week reflects the new reality of downsized events that are the antithesis of U.S. presidential campaigns of yesteryears.
Some of his events will be staged in airport hangars with crowds ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 people. They will be seated at health experts’ recommended socially distant spacing from each other.
The U.S. leader, who for months has been trailing Biden in national polls, is hoping to limit a further political fall-off generated by the virtual Democratic convention, where party luminaries for four days will extol Biden and pillory Trump’s 3 ½-year presidency, particularly his handling of the pandemic and early-2020 predictions that the virus will disappear.
With the U.S. coronavirus death toll now at a world-leading 170,000, Trump is focusing on other issues at his campaign stops, such as in Minnesota. It was the state where the death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in police custody in Minneapolis, spawned massive coast-to-coast protests against police abuse of minorities and racial injustice.
In Wisconsin, the U.S. leader is talking about job growth and trade, while in Arizona, he plans to emphasize security along the border with Mexico and his tough-on-immigration stance.
In Scranton, on Thursday, an aide said Trump's speech will review "Joe Biden's four decades in public life" and contrast his record with Trump's presidency.
While Trump is appearing at the rallies, his campaign is spending as much as $10 million on digital political ads this week, taking over the banner of YouTube for 96 hours starting on Tuesday.
Oddly, he is also buying ads on the home pages of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and FoxNews.com, all of which at various times he has attacked as “fake news” for stories he does not like.
Republicans are holding their scaled-down national convention next week, with Trump making his renomination acceptance speech August 27 from the White House.