• Trump trav­els to Sun Belt in at­tempt to en­er­gize cam­paign.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Front Page -

FORT MY­ERS, Fla. — Backed into a cor­ner and fac­ing fi­nan­cial strains, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump went af­ter his op­po­nent’s fam­ily and de­fended his own strug­gle to con­tain the pan­demic on Fri­day as he fought to en­er­gize his re­elec­tion bid in the na­tion’s Sun Belt. With Elec­tion Day loom­ing, Demo­crat Joe Bi­den pushed to keep vot­ers fo­cused on health care in the Mid­west.

Mr. Trump was cam­paign­ing in Florida and Ge­or­gia, neigh­bor­ing states he car­ried four years ago and must win again to ex­tend his pres­i­dency. His de­ci­sion to de­vote Fri­day evening’s prime- time slot to Ge­or­gia in par­tic­u­lar high­lighted the se­ri­ous na­ture of his chal­lenge in the 2020 con­test’s clos­ing days: Far from his orig­i­nal plan to ex­pand into Demo­crat­i­clean­ing states, he is la­bor­ing to stave off a de­feat of ma­jor pro­por­tions.

No Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date has lost Ge­or­gia since Ge­orge H. W. Bush in 1992. And ear­lier this week, Mr. Trump had to court vot­ers in Iowa, a state he car­ried by al­most 10 points four years ago.

In Florida on Fri­day, the pres­i­dent de­rided the Bi­dens as “an or­ga­nized

crime fam­ily,” re­new­ing his daily claims about the can­di­date’s son, Hunter, and his busi­ness deal­ings in Ukraine and China.

More to the point for Mr. Trump’s Florida au­di­ence, he spoke di­rectly to se­niors who have in­creas­ingly soured on his han­dling of the pan­demic.

“I am mov­ing heaven and earth to safe­guard our se­niors from the China virus,” Mr. Trump said, us­ing his usual blame- shift­ing term to de­scribe the coron­avirus. He also of­fered an op­ti­mistic as­sess­ment of the pan­demic, even as a surge of new in­fec­tions spread across Amer­ica. “We are pre­vail­ing.”

De­spite the tough talk, Mr. Trump’s ac­tions on the ground in Florida

un­der­scored the con­flict­ing mes­sages his ad­min­is­tra­tion has sent through­out the pan­demic. All of the pres­i­dent’s se­cu­rity per­son­nel and sup­port staff were wear­ing face masks when Air Force One touched down, but Mr. Trump and Florida’s Repub­li­can Gov. Ron DeSan­tis were bare- faced.

Crowds gath­ered at the pres­i­dent’s sub­se­quent events, many with­out masks as well.

It was just the op­po­site as Mr. Bi­den opened his Michi­gan swing at a sub­ur­ban Detroit com­mu­nity cen­ter. In keep­ing with his usual pro­to­cols, Mr. Bi­den and all of the par­tic­i­pants wore masks through­out the event, ex­cept when they were speak­ing, and a small crowd of dozens of re­porters and sup­port­ers watched from fold­ing chairs sep­a­rated by cir­cles to en­sure so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

“He’s liv­ing in a dream world,” Mr. Bi­den said of Mr. Trump’s rosy pre­dic­tions of the pan­demic. The for­mer vice pres­i­dent then turned to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s court fight to over­turn the “Oba­macare” health cov­er­age law — in­clud­ing its pro­tec­tion for peo­ple with pre- ex­ist­ing con­di­tions — with­out hav­ing a re­place­ment plan.

“Mis­han­dling the pan­demic isn’t enough for Trump,” Mr. Bi­den charged. “On top of that, he’s still try­ing to take away your health care.”

Mean­while, the pres­i­dent’s cam­paign re­leased new num­bers sug­gest­ing he’s likely the first in­cum­bent pres­i­dent to face a fi­nan­cial dis­ad­van­tage in the modern era.

Mr. Trump’s cam­paign, along with the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee and as­so­ci­ated groups, raised $ 247.8 mil­lion in Septem­ber, well short of the $ 383 mil­lion raised by Mr. Bi­den and the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee. To open Oc­to­ber, the Trump ef­fort of­fi­cially had $ 251.4 mil­lion in the bank, a cam­paign spokesman said, com­pared with $ 432 mil­lion for Mr. Bi­den.

AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

Se­nior White House aide Hope Hicks ar­rives to speak dur­ing a cam­paign rally for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day at Ocala In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Ocala, Fla.

John Bazemore/ As­so­ci­ated Press

Ge­or­gia state Rep. Ver­non Jones crowd surfs dur­ing a rally for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at Mid­dle Ge­or­gia Re­gional Air­port on Fri­day in Ma­con, Ga.

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