PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. (AP) — With Election Day just three weeks away, President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden concentrated Tuesday on battleground states both see as critical to clinching an Electoral College victory, tailoring their travel to best motivate voters who could cast potentially decisive ballots.
Biden was in Florida courting seniors, betting that a voting bloc that buoyed Trump four years ago has become disenchanted with the White House’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. It was Biden’s third visit to the state in a month, after making targeted appeals to other communities, including veterans and Latinos.
To Trump, “you’re expendable, you’re forgettable, you’re virtually nobody,” Biden said at a senior center in Pembroke Pines, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Fort Lauderdale.
The “only senior Donald Trump seems to care about” is himself, Biden added.
Introducing Biden, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz noted that “neither of these men will walk into the White House without the blessing of Florida seniors.”
“Much is made of the rise of the youth vote, and thank God for it,” the Florida congresswoman said. “But it’s residents 65 or older who still swing elections in the Sunshine State.”
Later, Biden was holding a voter mobilization rally in the heavily African American community of Miramar. His swing coincided with a $500,000 donation from billionaire former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg to increase Democratic turnout in Miami-Dade County.
Trump was staging an evening rally in Pennsylvania, Biden’s native state. The president wants to hammer home the claim that a Democratic administration could limit fracking in areas where the economy is heavily dependent on energy.
It’s an effort to fire up a conservative base that Trump will have to turn out in droves to secure the 270 electoral votes needed to retain the White House. The president also campaigned in Sanford, Florida, on Monday and will head back to the state on Friday.
Campaign travel on both sides comes against the backdrop of a second day of Senate hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Trump and top Republicans see a swift confirmation just weeks after the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a chance to energize conservatives.
Biden’s campaign believes it can take the presidency without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, but it wants to lock up the state to pad a margin of victory over Trump, who has for months questioned the legitimacy of an election where many people will cast mail-in ballots during the pandemic. Biden has vowed to win Pennsylvania, but if he falls short, his path to victory narrows substantially.
Pennsylvania is the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer after Texas, and more natural gas was fracked from the state’s wells last year than in any previous year. Trump has repeatedly stated, falsely, that Biden will outlaw fracking. Biden has proposed only barring new leases on federal land, a fraction of U.S. fracking operations.
In a Democratic primary debate in March, Biden misstated his fracking policy, and