Donald Trump to hold seven more rallies in final push for votes ahead of election
US president Donald Trump is mounting one final test of whether his usual massive crowds will translate into votes, as he finishes his re-election campaign with rallies in the battleground states that could decide the race.
The president held five rallies in five states on Sunday alone and is due to hold seven more on Monday, the final full day of the campaign.
Down in the polls and at a cash disadvantage to his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, Mr Trump is turning to the rallies to help keep his message in front of voters.
But it's unclear whether they will broaden his appeal beyond those already likely to vote for him. And the packed - often unmasked - crowds risk deepening the pandemic at a time when coronavirus cases are surging across the US.
But Mr Trump, still relishing his late-stage upset in the 2016 campaign, sees his showmanship as a central element of his outsider appeal that he hopes will resonate again this year.
"Let me ask you, is there a better place to be anytime, anywhere than a Trump rally?" Mr Trump asked a massive crowd on Saturday in Butler, Pennsylvania, that responded in roaring approval.
With more than 91 million votes already cast, Mr Trump and Mr Biden are out of time to reshape the race. Instead, they're focusing on their base and making sure that any potential supporters have either already voted or plan to do so in person on Tuesday.
For Mr Biden, that means paying close attention to black voters who are a critical part of the coalition he needs to build to win. His team is confident in Mr Biden's standing with women, college-educated voters and those who live in the suburbs.
But some Democrats worry that voters of colour may not be excited about Mr Biden and will not show up in force to support him, which could be devastating in fiercely contested battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The challenge is exacerbated by the Democratic push this year to encourage voting by mail to prevent people waiting in long queues during a pandemic. But that goes against the tradition of some black voters who prefer to vote in person on election day.
"Most black voters in Philly have been sceptical of mail-in voting," said Joe Hill, a veteran Democratic operative-turned-lobbyist from the city. "A lot of us have gotten our ballots already," Mr Hill said, but added: "Election day has always been everything in Philadelphia."
Mr Biden will spend much of Sunday in Philadelphia encouraging voters to turn out. He will participate in a "souls to the polls" event aimed at encouraging black church congregations to organise and vote.
He held his first in-person campaign events with former president Barack Obama on Saturday in the predominantly black cities of Detroit and Flint, Michigan. Mr Obama will also campaign for Mr Biden on Monday in Georgia and in south Florida, another area of potential concern if Latino voters sit out the election.
Reporting by PA.
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