What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

What Trump and Biden are telling supporters as campaigns wind down

As the final hours of the 2020 presidential campaign tick away, nearly 100 million Americans have already cast their ballots -- representing more than two-thirds of all 2016 votes. Meanwhile, the candidates appealed to voters in swing states, including Pennsylvania, which is shaping up to play a critical role. Yamiche Alcindor reports and joins Judy Woodruff and Lisa Desjardins to discuss.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The last minutes are ticking away in the presidential campaign. Nearly 100 million Americans have already voted more than two-thirds of all the votes cast in 2016.

    Today offered a last chance to gin up tomorrow's turnout.

    White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The campaign's final day, and both candidates rushing to rally supporters, each in his own way.

    President Trump mounted a blitz, hopping across four states that helped deliver him the presidency in 2016, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Remember what I said four years ago. I said, I am your voice, and we will make America great again.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Former Vice President Joe Biden focused his attention first on Ohio.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    My message is simple: The power to change the country is in your hands.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    But, today, Pennsylvania is the one key state that got the most attention.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    We're going to be covering a lot of ground today. Joe is going to be here. Jill's going to be here. Doug's going to be here.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Biden's running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, rallied residents in Luzerne County. It was an effort to flip back an area that last cycle helped hand the state to President Trump.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris:

    I think you all know — and that's why we're all here, and we keep coming back — because we care about Pennsylvania and because Pennsylvania is going to determine the outcome of this election.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The president also visited the county for a rally. He repeated claims that the nation would soon be rounding the corner on the pandemic.

  • President Donald Trump:

    You know, we have done such a great job with this whole thing. You look at Europe, they're spiking. We will quickly eradicate the virus and wipe out the China plague once and for all.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    In fact, the COVID crisis appears to be getting more dire, as infections surge past nine million. The top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told The Washington Post over the weekend that the nation — quote — "could not possibly be positioned more poorly" as we head into the winter.

    The White House fired back in a statement to The Post, accusing Dr. Fauci of — quote — "playing politics."

    Last night, in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Opa-locka, Florida, the president suggested Dr. Fauci may soon be fired.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Don't tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    I appreciate the advice.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Today, Biden hammered the president's pandemic response at his own rally in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    So, he refuses to do the work to get this virus under control. He refuses to do the work to get our schools and our small businesses the resources they needed to stay open, firefighters, teachers, cops, a whole lot of hardworking folks.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Vice President Mike Pence, also in Pennsylvania, warned, Biden's policies would be a drag on the economy.

  • Vice President Mike Pence:

    Joe Biden's talking about shutting down the economy…

    (BOOING)

    … right at the time that we're beginning to get back on our feet as a country.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    While the battle on the trail draws to a close, another fight over counting is brewing, with Pennsylvania also in the middle of it. The state's winner may not be decided by Tuesday night.

    In fact, some counties will not even begin counting ballots until the next day.

    Last night in North Carolina, President Trump criticized that delay, even though no state has ever reported complete final results on Election Day.

  • President Donald Trump:

    And I think it's terrible when we can't know the results of an election the night of an election in a modern-day age of computers.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    He said he was already gearing up for a legal challenge.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We're going to go in the night of. As soon as that election is over, we're going in with our lawyers.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Today, Biden tried to assure people that their votes would be counted.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    I don't care how much Donald Trump tries. There's nothing, nothing he's going to do to stop the people in this nation from voting. Folks, he hasn't figured it out. Presidents don't determine who gets to vote. Voters determine who is going to be the president.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Tensions on the ground are also building as the race wraps up. The FBI is investigating an incident in Texas last week where a convoy of Trump supporters in vehicles swarmed a Biden campaign bus on the highway. That led the campaign to cancel some events.

    President Trump later tweeted — quote — "These patriots did nothing wrong."

    But business owners and officials throughout the country are bracing for the possibility of post-election violence, boarding up windows and erecting fences.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Also today, a federal judge in Texas refused to toss out nearly 127,000 ballots cast at drive-through polling centers in Houston. Republican activists had argued the practice was illegal. The judge ruled they had no legal standing to sue.

    Now we turn now to Yamiche and to our Lisa Desjardins, both of whom following all of this very closely.

    Yamiche, to you first.

    We just heard some of what the president is saying on the trail. What is the thrust, the main thrust of his closing argument?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    On this day before Election Day, the president is focused on making a closing messages that is focused on emotion more than policy.

    He's making the case people should be more worried and more scared of the Black Lives Matter protests for racial justice and against police brutality than for the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 231,000 Americans and infected more than 9.3 million.

    He's said rally after rally in state after state that we're rounding the corner. Of course, states' cases are spiking across the country. But the president says that he believes that this is the way forward, that he knows best better than his infectious disease experts, including, of course, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was attacked in different speeches.

    The president is also making the case and campaign advisers told me today that they feel confident that they are going to win in critical states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, states that the president won in 2016, and that surprised the political atmosphere in Washington.

    One other thing, the president is also making the case that, if we don't know who is elected president by midnight tomorrow night, that the election somehow is rigged. That, of course, is not true. It's — there's no evidence that there's any sort of voter fraud.

    In fact, in several elections, we have not known who was the president at midnight, including in 2016, in 2000, in 1976, and even in 1968.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Lisa, Joe Biden, what is his closing message? And what do we know about the game plan here at the end?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Vice President Biden had an interesting closing message today, as he's still campaigning as we speak.

    But one thing he said in ending a speech earlier today was: "I will be the most pro-union president."

    He seems to be appealing to white working-class voters that Democrats believe they lost in 2016, barnstorming across Pennsylvania. And the Biden campaign feels very good about this idea. They think they have many more paths to getting 270 electoral votes and the White House than does President Trump.

    They also like this, that the early vote count in many states seems to favor Democrats, if you look at registered voters who are submitting ballots in states that are announcing those numbers. They say they're ahead in Wisconsin, in Michigan by amounts that mean that President Trump would have to win by — win with 60 percent or more in order to carry those states, all signs of confidence for the Biden campaign.

    They also are saying something about those ideas of fear that Yamiche was talking about. The Biden campaign says the idea of election-related fear is, in of itself, suppression, and people need to be very aware that it may just be perception, not reality.

    They want people to go out and vote. They also say, by their math, there is no way that President Trump will be able to declare himself the winner by midnight on election night.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, two different stories coming out here.

    So, Yamiche, you have been following this president throughout his time in the White House. Tomorrow, last day of voting, what are you watching for?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, I'm watching for the same thing that the Trump campaign is watching for.

    They are bracing for both physical confrontations, as well as legal confrontations. On the physical front, the president, as we noted in our tape, in our story, that the president is egging on, in some ways, his supporters who have physically been intimidating pro-Biden supporters.

    There are people on the campaign who say the president is OK to do that. I talked to someone today who was defending the president, saying, these are people who did not break the law. It's not — it's fine to be able to walk up to people, to even drive up to people to intimidate them with your vehicle.

    So, we should watch that space for more of that. Another thing to note is, the president is actually already — already has automatic donations going all the way until mid-December. He's doing that because he wants to have money in the bank for a prolonged legal fight.

    The RNC has already put aside $20 million, Judy, to fight legal battles that they think that will happen soon after election. The president's also promising to have several lawsuits already filed tomorrow.

    So, the president is already saying that, in states like Pennsylvania and others, in North Carolina, possibly, that he's already getting his lawyers ready to file something as early as tomorrow.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we know both campaigns are gearing up, if necessary, for legal fights.

    Finally, Lisa, you are also very closely watching Senate and House races. What are you specifically looking out for tomorrow night?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Quickly, for the House, let's talk about that.

    Right now, speaking to Democrats and Republicans, no one is really talking about a likely path that Republicans have to taking back the House. In fact, there's more of a question of how many gains Democrats might make.

    Then let's look at the Senate. Let's show — let's look at where the Senate chamber is right now, many people know, 53 Republicans and then 47 Democrats and independents. Judy, I think that the situation is such that we have a dozen, perhaps, Senate races on the board.

    We may find out who will be president before we find out who controls the Senate.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, you're both going to be busy tomorrow, as are we all.

    Thank you both.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

Listen to this Segment