By Steve Holland and Trevor Hunnicutt
Two days before Election Day, President Donald Trump on Sunday launched a campaign sprint across battleground states with chilly outdoor rallies in Iowa and Michigan as he seeks to defy the polls and fend off Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Buffeted by snow flurries in Washington, a town north of Detroit, in his first appearance of the day Trump wore his trademark red cap emblazoned with the words “Make America Great Again” and was bundled up in an overcoat he addressed a boisterous crowd on a cold and blustery morning.
After the crowd loudly chanted, “We love you” Trump responded, “I love you, too. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be standing here because it’s freezing out here.”
“You better get out there and vote,” Trump told the crowd.
Trump predicted he would repeat his 2016 victory in Michigan and touted his efforts to create auto jobs, a key issue for the auto manufacturing state.
“We brought back your car industry. Your car industry was finished. You would have had nothing left,” Trump said.
Motor vehicle manufacturing employment in Michigan has fallen by about 5,000 jobs since Trump took office, and there are about 13,000 fewer jobs making vehicle parts.
Trump then addressed another spirited rally in windy Dubuque, where he made his pitch to Iowa farmers in the important corn-growing state and predicted he would win there as he did four years ago.
Biden has held on to a steady lead in national opinion polls as a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 Americans and battered the economy has weighed on Trump’s campaign. The former vice president was ahead 51% to 43% in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken Oct. 27-29.
Polls show Trump still close in enough battleground states that could give him the 270 votes needed to win in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the overall victor.
The race remains a toss-up in Florida, North Carolina and Arizona, Reuters/Ipsos polls showed, while Trump trails by 7 percentage points in Pennsylvania and 10 percentage points in Michigan and Wisconsin.
In his 2016 victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, the real estate developer and reality TV personality-turned-politician took Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as well as Michigan, states that for decades had gone in the Democratic column.
Polls show a tight race in Iowa.
Anita Dunn, a Biden campaign adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, “We feel confident about where we are.” The Democratic governors of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all said they were upbeat about Biden’s chances in their states. Ohio’s Republican governor predicted Trump would win the state by a couple of percentage points.
Trump is due to stage 10 rallies – five a day – on Sunday and Monday, the campaign’s busiest stretch, with Monday appearances planned in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and back in Michigan.
Hitting on familiar themes, Trump portrayed himself as running against “a corrupt politician” and “a dummy and a half” in Biden as well as a “left-wing mob” and Democratic “maniacs.” Both men have previously mused about physically striking one another. Trump, 78, brought it up again on Sunday, saying of his 77-year-old rival, “He thinks he’s a tough guy. … You know what, boom … ding, he’s gone.”