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Biden to push into Georgia as Trump embarks on three-state campaign spree

WASHINGTON — With just a week to go until the Nov. 3 election, President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will criss-cross the country on Tuesday in an intense day of campaigning that will also see former President Barack Obama back on the stump.

Trailing Biden in national opinion polls, Trump will hold rallies in three states key to his reelection hopes – Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska – while Biden journeys to Georgia and Obama campaigns on Biden’s behalf in critical Florida.

The 2020 U.S. presidential campaign has been unlike any other as a raging coronavirus pandemic that has so far killed more then 225,000 Americans pushes record early voting. More than 64 million votes have been cast so far, approaching half the total 2016 vote, according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida.

The huge volume of mail ballots could take days or weeks to tally, experts have said. Mail voting is nothing new for the United States – about one in four ballots were cast that way in 2016 – but is surging amid the pandemic.

Trump, who has repeatedly and without evidence claimed that mailed ballots are likely to be subject to fraud, on Monday said on Twitter: “Must have final total on November 3rd.” Twitter flagged the tweet with a disclaimer describing the post’s content as “disputed” and potentially misleading.

Early on Tuesday, Trump will stage rallies in Michigan and Wisconsin, two states he won by narrow margins in 2016, but where polls show him now trailing to Biden.

Trump will be able to tout the confirmation of his nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett cleared the Senate on Monday by a 52-48 vote and was sworn in during a night-time outdoor ceremony at the White House, meeting the president’s goal of having her on the court by Election Day.

The scene was reminiscent of the Sept. 29 event in which Trump introduced Barrett as his nominee, albeit with more attendees wearing masks and increased social distancing. The September event preceded an outbreak of the virus that infected Trump and three Senate Republicans.

Shortly before Barrett’s confirmation, the Supreme Court refused to allow an extension ordered by a federal judge in the deadline for returning mail-in ballots in Wisconsin, dealing a setback to Democrats.

Record numbers of new U.S. COVID-19 cases in recent days, including a new outbreak among Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, have offered Biden’s campaign a chance to remind voters of how Trump and his allies have played down the advice of public health experts to wear masks and observe social-distancing guidelines to battle the pandemic.

Despite his exposure to the coronavirus, Pence has continued to campaign and will travel to North Carolina and South Carolina on Tuesday. He tested negative for the virus on Monday, the White House said.

(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Scott Malone and Lincoln Feast.)

Biden’s foray into Georgia, long a Republican stronghold, is a sign of the campaign’s optimism heading into the final week.

Polls show the race there to be tight, and win by Biden in Georgia would likely be a severe blow to Trump’s chances. The state hasn’t supported a Democrat in a presidential election since 1992.

Biden told reporters on Monday he believes he has a “fighting chance” to take Georgia.

He will hold an afternoon event in Warm Springs, Georgia – where former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt maintained a vacation home – before capping the day with an evening rally in the state capital, Atlanta.

Flush with cash, Biden’s campaign has been advertising in the state for weeks.

Obama, who has emerged as a top stand-in for Biden down the stretch, will campaign in Orlando after heading up a rally in Miami over the weekend. Biden served as Obama’s vice president for eight years.

TRUMP HEADS TO NEBRASKA

Trump’s rally in Nebraska, meanwhile, suggests his campaign is preparing for a close finish. The state apportions three of its five electoral votes by majority vote in its three congressional districts, with the Omaha-area district a potential pick-up opportunity for Biden while the rest of the state is expected to go for Trump.

In a scenario where Trump and Biden finish close to a tie in the U.S. Electoral College, that Omaha district with its single vote could make the difference of clinching the 270th elector needed to win. Trump’s rally is also likely to draw attendees from neighboring Iowa, another state that is likely to be competitive.

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