Manila Bulletin

Trump and Biden hit the trail in a charged election week

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WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — President Donald Trump and rival Joe Biden hit the ground Sunday in the swing states that will decide the US election, as the campaign turns increasing­ly vicious 16 days before voting.

Trump, scrambling to make up lost ground, is on a furious multistate barnstormi­ng tour, hopping on Sunday from Nevada to California and then back to Nevada for a day of rallies and fundraisin­g, before moving on to Arizona on Monday.

An infrequent church-goer, he attended services Sunday in a cavernous — but not entirely full — evangelica­l church in Las Vegas. Congregant­s prayed for him, and when a collection plate was passed, a pool photograph­er saw Trump toss in a handful of $20 bills.

Biden, a practicing Catholic, attended Mass with his wife Jill at their church near Wilmington, Delaware, before walking outside to visit the grave of son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.

Limiting his own campaign itinerary due to pandemic concerns, the 77-year-old Biden then flew to North Carolina for a pair of events.

In Durham, the mask-wearing former vice president jogged to a stage in a parking lot where people in dozens of vehicles waited for him. “We choose hope over fear, we choose unity over division, science over fiction and yes, we choose truth over lies,’’ he told them.

Both men are working to rouse their political bases and appeal to the seemingly small number of undecided voters in an election that could revolve on voter turnout.

One key opportunit­y comes this week with the candidates’ final nationally televised debate, on Thursday evening in Nashville, Tennessee.

Their first debate descended into a chaotic stream of interrupti­ons, head-shaking and angry rejoinders; the second was replaced by dueling town-hall meetings after Trump refused to debate virtually.

The final debate will be face-toface, with topics including “Race in America,’’ “Climate Change,’’ “Foreign Policy’’ and “Fighting Covid19,’’ ensuring a combative evening.

Trump trails in polls

If there was any doubt about the 74-year-old president’s own recovery from the virus, his packed campaignin­g schedule appears to belie it, and his message has, if anything, grown more pointed.

On Sunday, Trump again raised a disputed allegation that messages on a laptop computer belonging to Biden’s son Hunter implicated the former vice president in corrupt links to Ukraine, calling it a “proven fact.’’

This, he tweeted, made it “impossible’’ for Biden to “ever assume the office of the President!’’

Biden’s campaign has repeatedly rejected the allegation­s, angrily dismissed by the candidate as a ‘’smear campaign.’’

But Trump has not backed down. In a rally Saturday in Muskegon, Michigan he called Biden “a criminal’’ and even joined an enthusiast­ic crowd in chants of “Lock him up.’’

Trump also further stoked a US culture war, saying that the Democrats wanted to “erase American history, purge American values and destroy the American way of life.’’

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