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Suzanne Lynch’s US Election Diary: Trump seeks to hold onto midwest states

Polls suggest president trails Democratic rival Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin

I am currently reporting from the upper midwest where president Donald Trump is hoping to defend a string of rust-belt states that voted for him in 2016.

Trump's surprise victory in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin  helped secure his path to the White House four years ago, though polls suggest he is trailing his Democratic opponent in all three.

Nonetheless, Trump supporters are highly energised in the old industrial midwest that was for decades reliably Democrat but switched to Trump.

I attended a Donald Trump jnr rally at a truck depot in nearby Ohio. The president’s eldest son, who has thrown himself into the political fray since his father’s election, was greeted by hundreds of Trump devotees. Much of his speech hit on reliable Trump themes, lambasting Joe Biden’s son Hunter and the mainstream media.

Some of the attendees I interviewed were voting for Trump for the first time this year – a concerning sign for Democrats who feel Trump is only appealing to a core base that already supports him. Still, the fact the Trump family is campaigning in Ohio may suggest Republicans are far from confident about winning the state.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden was campaigning in Georgia – a traditionally Republican-leaning state – suggesting Democrats are confident of expanding the electoral map. Like Arizona and Texas, Georgia has witnessed a shift in demographics in recent years, with indications the vote-heavy suburbs of Atlanta could turn away from Trump in this election.

Barack Obama, who has maintained a judicious silence over the last four years as he has watched the Trump presidency from his home in Washington DC, appears to be enjoying himself on the campaign trail. He criticised Trump's handling of the Covid pandemic at a campaign event in Orlando yesterday.

“He’s jealous of Covid’s media coverage!” he said of the current president, who has criticised the media in recent days for focusing too much on the virus that has killed more than 225,000 Americans.

Elsewhere, first lady Melania Trump made her first solo trip of the election campaign, speaking at an event in Pennsylvania.

Other members of the Trump family were also out in force, with Ivanka Trump holding a "Make America Great Again" event in Sarasota, Florida; the president's youngest daughter, Tiffany, hosting a "Breakfast with Tiffany" event in North Carolina; while Eric Trump was campaigning in Nevada.

The president held three rallies, attacking Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, and accusing Joe Biden of "sticking the knife" into the backs of Wisconsin workers at an event in the midwestern state. He also showcased a new addition to his rallies in recent days – playing an anti-Biden video on a big screen, complete with Biden quotes and interjections by Fox News hosts.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign website crashed last night after a cyber-attack. The campaign said that “no exposure to sensitive data” occurred.

Quote of the Day

“You are going to see a giant red wave on Tuesday. You’re going to see a red wave like you’ve never seen before . . . they got a glimpse four years ago. This is going to be bigger, but they know it, they know it. They see what is happening. It’s going to be very big, and it’s going to be beautiful” – Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Tuesday night.

On the Campaign Trail today

Trump is campaigning in Arizona and Nevada, while vice-president Mike Pence will be in Flint, Michigan, and Des Moines, Iowa, amid signs that first-term Iowan Republican senator Joni Ernst could be in trouble.

Joe Biden will deliver remarks on his response to the Covid pandemic in Delaware, while Kamala Harris will be campaigning in Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona.

Harris's husband, Doug Emhoff, is scheduled to hold events in Pennsylvania.

Recommended Reads

My report from a Donald Trump jnr rally in Ohio.

Carle Hulse in the New York Times writing about the role Mitch McConnell played in confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, capping his legacy in the Senate.

"The Plot to Kidnap Me": Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer in The Atlantic. "Every time the president ramps up this violent rhetoric, every time he fires up Twitter to launch another broadside against me, my family and I see a surge of vicious attacks sent our way."

Both candidates have launched new ads as the campaign enters its final stretch. Joe Biden declares that "character is on the ballot – the character of this country," and avoids any mention of President Trump.

The Trump campaign's new ad contains scenes of America in flames, set to dramatic music, as the narrator intones: "While America's cities burned, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris fanned the flames."

* Sign up to get Suzanne Lynch's US Election Diary by email every weekday morning of the campaign here.