US election: Trump targets Pennsylvania as race enters final stretch

President tries to narrow polling gap with Democratic rival for White House Joe Biden

US president Donald Trump gestures at a rally at Circleville, Ohio: He claims to be “rounding the turn” in terms of Covid-19 as figures spiral. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP

US president Donald Trump gestures at a rally at Circleville, Ohio: He claims to be “rounding the turn” in terms of Covid-19 as figures spiral. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP

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US president Donald Trump will hold a trio of back-to-back rallies in the key swing state of Pennsylvania on Monday as he strives to close the polling gap with Democratic opponent Joe Biden and the US election campaign enters its final stretch.

With just over a week until election day, Mr Trump embarked on a whistlestop tour of six states over the weekend, in defiance of coronavirus advisories in place in several states as case numbers in the United States rise.

Addressing supporters at a packed outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Sunday, Mr Trump said that America was “rounding the turn” in terms of Covid-19. This is despite the fact the US hit a new daily record of 85,000 new cases on Friday, with the total death toll passing 225,000 on Sunday.

Margin of error

He also hit out at Mr Biden’s economic policies, and hailed the nomination of a third supreme court justice during his presidency, amid expectations the Senate could confirm his nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, to the court as early as Monday.

“We’re giving you a great new supreme court justice. That will take place on Monday, the Democrats are thrilled,” he declared to cheers.

Although Mr Trump is trailing his Democratic opponent in national polls by double digits, the race is tighter in several key swing states including Florida – a must-win for Mr Trump as he tries to defend states he won in 2016.

A CBS poll on Sunday put Mr Biden at 50 per cent, compared with Mr Trump at 48 per cent, a lead that is well within the margin of error.

Demographic changes

Both vice-president Mike Pence and former president Barack Obama campaigned in the state on Saturday, with Mr Obama due to return for an event in Orlando on Tuesday.

There was positive news for Democrats in the southern state of Texas, however, as a poll showed Mr Biden ahead by two points in the traditionally Republican-leaning state. Democrats had hoped that demographic changes in the country’s second-biggest state could shift it blue.

New figures show that Texas, like many other states, has experienced a surge in early voting this year. Seven million Texans have already voted – almost 80 per cent of the total votes cast in 2016.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden slammed the president’s handling of Covid-19 in Pennsylvania on Saturday, warning of a “dark winter ahead”. “Experts say we’ll lose nearly another 200,000 lives nationwide in the next few months . . . because he refuses to follow science,” he told supporters.

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