TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden are chasing votes Thursday in Florida, a state all but essential to the Republican’s pathway to another term, as both nominees turn their focus to encouraging voters to turn out in person on Election Day.
Watch Biden’s remarks in the player above.
More than 73 million Americans have already voted, absentee or by mail, and Trump and Biden are trying to energize the millions more who will vote on Tuesday. While the Election Day vote traditionally favors Republicans and early votes tend toward Democrats, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 227,000 people in the United States, has injected new uncertainty.
Trump and Biden will appear in Tampa hours apart on Thursday. They’re visiting the western end of the state’s Interstate 4 corridor, an area known for rapid residential growth, sprawling suburbs and its status as an ever-changing, hard-fought battleground during presidential elections.
Biden, later in the week, will head to three more states Trump won in 2016: Iowa, Wisconsin and then Michigan, where he’ll hold a joint Saturday rally with former President Barack Obama.
Biden is also pouring tens of millions of dollars into a torrent of online advertising that will deliver his closing message of the presidential campaign, highlighting his promise to govern for all Americans while blasting Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president,” Biden says in one of the digital ads, which will take over the masthead of YouTube.com on Thursday. “I will work as hard for those who don’t support me as those who do. That’s the job of a president — the duty to care for everyone.”
How much exactly Biden will spend is unclear. His campaign says it is putting a “mid-eight figure” dollar amount behind over 100 different ads, which means they could be spending as little as $25 million — but potentially much more.
The ads will run on social media platforms including Instagram and Facebook, streaming services such as Hulu and music applications like Pandora.
In both Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, and the adjacent Pinellas County, Democrats are crushing vote-by-mail. As of Wednesday morning, more than 53,000 Democrats had voted by mail in Hillsborough than Republicans. In Pinellas, the largest of the four counties in the state to switch from Obama to Trump in 2016, that number was just shy of 30,000 more Democrats voting by mail than Republicans.
Republicans in both counties have a slight edge in the state’s in-person early voting, which began last Saturday as Trump himself voted in Palm Beach County downstate, and the GOP will likely need a strong showing on Tuesday to overcome Democratic leads.
Because of concerns about submission deadlines, Postal Service backlogs and the potential for drawn-out legal challenges, Democrats are pressing their backers who have yet to return ballots to head to the polls in person.
Miller reported from Washington and Madhani from Bullhead City, Arizona. Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe in Wilmington, Delaware, Michelle Price in Bullhead City, Kathleen Ronayne in Phoenix, and Will Weissert and Brian Slodysko in Washington contributed to this report.