U.S. President Donald Trump told supporters on Thursday (October 29), in the closely fought state of Florida, ‘We’re never going to lockdown again,’ amid a surge in COVID-19 cases as the clock ticks down to Election Day.
Opinion polls show his Democratic rival Joe BidenBiden with a significant edge nationally, but with a tighter lead in the battleground states that play a decisive role in the final result.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday showed Trump had essentially moved into a tie with Biden in Florida, with 49% saying they would vote for Biden and 47% for the president.
With its 29 electoral votes, the state is a major prize in next Tuesday’s election. Trump’s victory in Florida in 2016 was vital to his surprise election win.
Thousands of people, many of them without masks, crowded together at an outdoor event in Tampa on Thursday to hear Trump mock his opponent, the former vice president.
The pandemic that has upended life across the United States, killed more than 227,000 people, and caused millions of job losses, is roaring back.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the threat of the pandemic, saying this week his opponents and the news media would stop paying attention to it right after the election, even as leaders in Europe scramble to contain a second wave and public health experts predict a grim winter in the United States.
Officials in Gastonia, North Carolina, warned people who attended an Oct. 21 Trump rally there that two people who took part tested positive for COVID-19.
Following his own bout with COVID-19, the president has had a hectic campaign schedule, holding as many as three rallies a day in different states, while Biden has taken a more measured tack, spending two days this week close to his home base of Delaware.
Florida is home to large Latino populations, with Cuban Americans in the south of Florida traditionally tending to favor Republicans, while newer communities of Puerto Ricans in central Florida lean toward the Democrats.
(Production: Njuwa Maina)