President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he departs after speaking at a campaign rally at Altoona-Blair County Airport, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Martinsburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Biden vows his unity can save country; Trump hits Midwest

Biden vows his unity can save country; Trump hits Midwest

WARM SPRINGS, Ga. — Joe Biden travelled Tuesday to the hot springs town where Franklin Delano Roosevelt coped with polio to declare the U.S. is not too politically diseased to overcome its health and economic crises, pledging to be the unifying force who can “restore our soul and save this country.”

The Democratic presidential nominee offered his closing argument with Election Day just one week away while attempting to go on the political offensive in Georgia, which hasn’t backed a Democrat for the White House since 1992. He promised to be a president for all Americans regardless of party, even as he said that “anger and suspicion is growing and our wounds are getting deeper.”

“Has the heart of this nation turned to stone? I don’t think so,” Biden said. “I refuse to believe it.”

While Biden worked to expand the electoral map in the South, President Donald Trump focused on the Democrats’ “blue wall” states that he flipped in 2016 — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — and maintained a far busier travel schedule taking him to much more of the country.

At a cold, rain-soaked rally in the Michigan capital of Lansing, Trump said that Biden supported the North American Free Trade Agreement and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, both of which he said hurt the auto industry and other manufacturing in the state.

“This election is a matter of economic survival for Michigan,” the president said, arguing that the state’s economy was strong before the coronavirus pandemic hit. “Look what I’ve done.”

Trump also cheered Senate candidate John James — who may ultimately have a better chance of winning the state than the president — while attacking Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for moving aggressively to shut down much of the state’s economy to slow the virus’ spread. He even seemed to cast doubt on federal authorities breaking up what they said was a plot to kidnap her, which Whitmer has argued Trump’s “violent rhetoric” helped spark.

“It was our people that helped her out with her problem. And we’ll have to see if it’s a problem. Right?” Trump said. “People are entitled to say ‘maybe it was a problem. Maybe it wasn’t.’”

Biden, even as he predicted the country could rise above politics, went after his election rival, accusing Trump anew of bungling the federal response to the pandemic that has seen new cases surging in many areas, and failing to manage the economic fallout or combat institutional racism and police brutality that have sparked widespread demonstrations.

“The tragic truth of our time is that COVID has left a deep and lasting wound in this country,” Biden said, scoffing at Trump’s pronouncements that the nation is turning a corner on the virus. He charged that the president has “shrugged. He’s swaggered. And he’s surrendered.”

Venturing into Georgia was a sign of confidence by the Biden team, which is trying to stretch the electoral map and open up more paths to the needed 270 Electoral College votes. The former vice-president plans to travel to Iowa, which Trump took by 10 points in 2016, later in the week. And his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, is hitting Arizona and deep red Texas.

Besides Lansing, Trump was travelling to West Salem, Wisconsin. First lady Melania Trump was on the road, too, making her first solo campaign trip of the year in Pennsylvania. And Vice-President Mike Pence was in South Carolina, maintaining his campaign schedule despite several close aides testing positive for the coronavirus last weekend. There, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is in a potentially tight reelection race.

Hillary Clinton flirted with GOP territory in 2016, only to lose traditional Democratic Midwestern strongholds. But a top Biden adviser rejected the notion that the campaign is spreading itself too thin, noting that the former vice-president’s visit follows weeks of paid advertising in Georgia and visits by Harris and the candidate’s wife, Jill Biden.

Biden will also visit in coming days Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida, where former President Barack Obama gave a speech in Orlando on Tuesday, blistering Trump as only worrying about the virus because it was dominating news coverage.

“He’s jealous of COVID’s media coverage,” Obama said. “If he had been focused on COVID from the beginning, cases wouldn’t be reaching new record highs across the country this week.”

Trump expressed his displeasure that Fox News carried his Democratic predecessor’s speech live, complaining to reporters about it and tweeting the network was “playing Obama’s no crowd, fake speech for Biden.”

In Atglen, Pennsylvania, Melania Trump said she was feeling “so much better now,” just weeks after being diagnosed with the virus. She slammed Biden’s “socialist agenda,” praised her husband as “a fighter,” and also commented on the president’s use of social media.

“I don’t always agree the way he says things,” she said, drawing laughter from the crowd, “but it is important to him that he speaks directly to the people he serves.”

The Trumps left for their campaign trips at the same time, and the president gave the first lady a quick peck on the cheek before they boarded separate planes.

The president will also visit Omaha, Nebraska, after a Sunday stop in Maine. That anticipates a razor-thin Electoral College margin since both areas offer one electoral vote by congressional district.

While Biden rarely travels to more than one state per day, the Republican president has maintained a whirlwind schedule, focusing on his argument that he built a booming economy before the coronavirus pandemic upended it. Trump is planning a dizzying 11 rallies in the final 48 hours before polls close.

His latest swing is also something of a victory lap after the Senate on Monday approved the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to give conservatives a commanding 6-3 advantage on the Supreme Court. Trump has sought to use the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lo animate conservative evangelical and Catholic voters, though the high court fight has been overshadowed by concerns over the coronavirus with cases surging.

Biden, meanwhile, is hoping to lift Democrats running for Senate in Georgia and Iowa. He was visiting Atlanta after his address in Warm Springs, where Roosevelt sought treatment while governing a nation weathering the Great Depression and World War II.

“This place, Warm Springs, is a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed,” Biden said. “That as a people and a country, we can overcome a devastating virus. That we can heal a suffering world. That, yes, we can restore our soul and save our country.”

His appearance was meant to bookend his visit earlier this month to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when Biden used the site of the bloody Civil War battle to issue a call for putting country ahead of party. On Tuesday, he evoked Roosevelt’s New Deal sensitivities to say he could harness the power of the government to move the country forward.

“If you give me the honour of serving as your president, clear the decks for action,” he said. “For we will act.”

___

Weissert reported from Washington, Madhani from Lansing, Michigan. Associated Press Writers Michael Rubinkam in Atglen, Pennsylvania, Bill Barrow in Atlanta and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed.

___

AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state: https://interactives.ap.org/advance-voting-2020/.

Will Weissert, Alexandra Jaffe And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press

politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Conservatives push for parliamentary committee study into failed vaccine deal

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are calling for a parliamentary committee to… Continue reading

(Black Press file photo).
Pregancy Care Centre seeks support through online fundraiser

The annual banquet was cancelled, due to the pandemic

(Red Deer Advocate file photo).
Registrations for Red Deer rec programs delayed

Sign-up for sports and culture programs starts Jan. 12

(Red Deer Advocate file photo).
Red Deer County seeks public feedback on draft budget

Minimal impact on ratepayers was the goal

(Advocate file photo).
RDC’s The Nutcracker is being videotaped for online viewing

COVID-19 presents challenges for live performance

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Toronto police respond to an incident at St. Michael’s College School, in Toronto, Nov. 19, 2018. The trial of a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at a prestigious Toronto high school is set to resume today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trial resumes for teen accused in St. Michael’s College School sex assault case

Defence lawyers for a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at… Continue reading

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The Trump administration is keeping silent about Canada blocking its plan to import prescription drugs from north of the border. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trump admin silent after Hajdu pushes back on U.S. plan to raid Canada’s drug cabinet

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration is keeping silent about Canada blocking… Continue reading

Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume, right, speaks at the inauguration of a memorial to the 2017 mosque shooting, Tuesday, December 1, 2020 in Quebec City. From the left, Luce Pelletier, artist who designed the memorial, MP Joel Lightbound, Boufeldja Benabdallah, and MNA Joelle Boutin.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec City’s memorial to 2017 mosque shooting victims symbolizes defeat of hatred

Quebec City has inaugurated a memorial to the victims of the 2017… Continue reading

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

Alberta restaurants face new regulations aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, Photo from Trolley 5 Brewery and Restaurant Facebook page
Restaurants working under new restrictions Central Alberta

Starting last Friday, any area in the province with more than 50… Continue reading

Opinion piece
Opinion: A down payment on recovery, details to come

Just to be clear: Justin Trudeau’s government has not acquired the ability… Continue reading

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Mike Miltimore, seen in Kamloops, B.C., in an undated handout photo, says the Gretsch electric guitar that a woman brought into his store is from 1955 and similar to one played by country music legend Chet Atkins before he developed his signature series of guitars. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Mike Miltimore
Guitar made in 1950s worth more than B.C. family imagined

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — When Renee Latheur decided to take an old guitar… Continue reading

Most Read