Saturday, with just three days of campaigning left before Election Day in the United States, President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden focused on battleground states, with Trump visiting Pennsylvania while the former vice president traveled to Michigan.
Trump held four rallies Saturday in cities across Pennsylvania, where he narrowly won in 2016 and where polls currently show Biden with a slight advantage.
Trump’s first rally was in Newtown, where he criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for refusing a Republican Party effort to block a three-day extension for Pennsylvania election officials to receive absentee ballots, meaning the court would not intercede in the state’s vote count.
“This is a horrible thing that the United States Supreme Court has done to our country,” he said. “We have to know who won.”
On the final rally in Montoursville, Trump confirmed that he had signed an executive order that called on the Energy Department to lead a study on the effects of restricting fracking. Fracking for natural gas is a major source of jobs in western Pennsylvania. Trump has accused Biden of planning to ban fracking if elected, something Biden denies.
Trump also thanked U.S. Special Forces for an operation carried out in northern Nigeria on Saturday to rescue an American citizen being held by armed men.
The Pentagon did not identify the person, but the Reuters news agency cited an unnamed U.S. official as saying that he was 27-year-old Philip Walton, who was kidnapped earlier in the week.
Trump won Pennsylvania by a narrow margin in 2016. Reuters/Ipsos polls show Trump trailing Biden by 5 percentage points in the state.
Biden attended events alongside former President Barack Obama for the first time during the campaign season. The two visited the cities of Flint and Detroit the first of two days the campaign will spend in Michigan to garner voter support.
In Flint, Michigan, Biden focused on Trump’s handling of the pandemic. “We’re gonna beat this virus and get it under control and the first step to doing that is beating Donald Trump," Biden said.
Biden’s campaign issued a statement later Saturday in reaction to estimates by Stanford University that from June to September, President Trump’s rallies led to an additional 30,000 COVID-19 infections and as many as 700 deaths. The paper is based on a statistical model, not an investigation and is not peer reviewed.
"Trump doesn't even care about the very lives of his strongest supporters," Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.
Politico reported that the White House called the study "flawed," describing it as a politicized attempt to shame Trump supporters.
National polls typically show Biden with a lead of 7 or 8 percentage points over Trump, although the margin is about half that in several key battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome in the Electoral College.
According to an average of major polls compiled by the website Real Clear Politics, Biden and Trump are virtually tied in the battleground states of Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina, while the president trails the former vice president in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Americans are voting early for Tuesday’s presidential election in unprecedented numbers, a product of strong feelings for or against the two main candidates and a desire to avoid large Election Day crowds at polling stations during the pandemic.
More than 92 million people had voted as of Saturday, well above half the overall 2016 vote count of 138.8 million, according to the U.S. Elections Project.