President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden went on offense Sunday, with each campaigning in states they are trying to flip during the Nov. 3 election that is just over two weeks away.
Trump began his day in Nevada, making a rare visit to church before an evening rally in Carson City. Once considered a battleground, Nevada hasn’t swung for a Republican presidential contender since 2004.
Biden, a practicing Catholic, attended mass in Delaware before campaigning in North Carolina, where a Democrat hasn’t won in the White House race since Barack Obama in 2008.
Both candidates are trying to make inroads in states that could help secure a path to victory, but the dynamics of the race are remarkably stable. Biden enjoys a significant advantage in national polls, while carrying a smaller edge in battleground surveys.
With Trump seated in the front row at the nondenominational International Church of Las Vegas, the senior associate pastor, Denise Goulet told attendees that God told her the president is the apple of his eye and would secure a second term.
“At 4:30, the Lord said to me, ‘I am going to give your president a second win,’” she said, telling Trump, “you will be the president again.”
Trump offered brief remarks, saying “I love going to churches” and that it was “a great honor” to attend the service. The president also said that “we have a group on the other side that doesn’t agree with us,” and he urged people to “get out there on Nov. 3 or sooner” to vote. He dropped a wad of $20 bills in the collection plate before leaving.
Despite the pandemic, there were no efforts to social distance or limit singing, which health officials classify as a high-risk activity. Few attendees wore masks inside the church.
Biden addressed supporters at a drive-in rally in Durham, North Carolina, where he focused heavily on promoting criminal justice changes to combat institutional racism and he promised to help build wealth among the African American community.
Speaking from a stage in a parking lot with about 70 cars, Biden said North Carolina is crucial to his chance of victory. “It’s going to make all the difference here in North Carolina,” said Biden, who removed his face mask when he spoke. “And the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
He noted that Trump had said at one of his rallies that the country had turned the corner on the pandemic.
“As my grandfather would say, this guy’s gone around the bend if he think we’ve turned the corner. Turning the corner? Things are getting worse,” Biden said.
The approaches each candidate are taking in the closing days of the contest are widely divergent, with Biden embracing public health guidelines for campaigning during a pandemic. He wears a mask in public when not speaking and his events emphasize social distancing.
Trump has returned to hosting his signature rallies, where attendees are squeezed shoulder to shoulder and many do not wear masks. He continues to play down the coronavirus, even though he is recovering from his own bout with it.
In addition to public poling that indicates Biden has an edge, there’s another considerable advantage over Trump: money. Over the past four months, his campaign has raised over $1 billion, and that has enabled him to eclipse Trump’s once-massive cash advantage.
That’s become apparent in advertising, where Biden and his Democratic allies are on pace to outspend Trump and the Republicans by two-fold in the closing days of the race, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.
Though Trump has largely retreated from advertising in Midwestern states that secured his 2016 win, he’s invested heavily elsewhere, including North Carolina, where he is on pace to slightly outspend Biden in the days ahead.
In Nevada, which Trump came close to winning in 2016, Democrats are set to outspend Trump in the closing days by more than 3-to-1.
Trump’s visit to the state is part of an aggressive schedule of campaign events, where he has leaned heavily into fear tactics.
As he tried to keep more voters from turning against him, Trump has sought to paint Democrats as “anti-American radicals” on a “crusade against American history.” He told moderate voters they had a “a moral duty” to join the Republican Party.
Biden started his day with mass in Delaware at St. Joseph’s on the Brandywine, as he does nearly every week. He and his wife, Jill, entered wearing dark-colored face masks. She carried a bunch of flowers that including pink roses.
The church is a few minutes’ drive from Biden’s home. Biden’s son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, is buried in the cemetery on its grounds. Joe and Jill Biden visited the grave after the service.
If elected, Biden would be only the second Roman Catholic president in U.S. history and first since John F. Kennedy. Biden speaks frequently about his faith and its importance in his life.
Trump attends church far less often, but has drawn strong support from white Evangelical leaders and frequently hosts groups of pastors at the White House. Trump often goes to the Church of Bethesda-By-The Sea near Mar-a-Lago in Florida for major holidays, including Easter, and attended a Christmas Eve service last year a Family Church in West Palm Beach before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
As the virus forced most churches to pause in-person services this spring, Trump announced plans to tune into live-streamed worship led by some leading evangelical supporters, including Texas-based megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress’ Easter service and a March service by Georgia-based pastor Jentezen Franklin.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.