President Donald Trump voted in his adopted home of Florida before hitting the campaign trail for rallies in three swing states on Saturday, joining more than 54 million Americans who have cast early ballots at a record-setting pace ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Trump voted at a library in West Palm Beach, near his Mar-a-Lago estate, after switching his permanent residence and voter registration last year from New York to Florida, a must-win battleground for his re-election bid.
“I voted for a guy named Trump,” he told reporters after casting his ballot. His schedule Saturday included rallies in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Democratic rival Joe Biden and his wife Jill also hit the campaign trail on Saturday, travelling to the battleground of Pennsylvania for two events. Former President Barack Obama is campaigning in Florida, making his second appearance on behalf of his former vice-president after a stop in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
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There were several hundred supporters gathered with flags and signs outside the library where Trump voted. And there were chants of “Four more years.”
The President wore a mask while voting, but he took it off as he approached reporters afterward in the building.
Biden hasn’t voted yet and it likely to do so in person in Delaware on election day, Nov. 3. Delaware doesn’t offer early, in-person voting like Florida.
Trump said at a Florida rally on Friday that he likes being able to vote in person. “I’m old fashioned, I guess,” he said.
Later, at a North Carolina rally, he criticized Biden for saying during their debate that the country is headed for a dark winter because of the pandemic – something health experts have been warning for months.
“We’re rounding the turn … our numbers are incredible,” Trump told supporters in Lumberton, N.C., even as the country’s daily coronavirus tally reached record heights with more than 83,000 infections reported on Friday.
With 10 days to go in the campaign, about 54.2 million Americans have already cast early ballots, a pace that could lead to the highest voter turnout in more than a century, according to data from the U.S. Elections Project.
The rush to vote is a sign of the intense interest in the contest between Trump and Biden, as well as concerns about avoiding crowded polling places on election day and reducing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, which has killed more than 224,000 Americans.
Many states have expanded in-person early voting and mail-in ballots as a safer way to vote during the pandemic.
After he voted, Trump called it “a very secure vote. Much more secure than when you send in a ballot, I can tell you that.”
Trump, who has regularly condemned mail-in voting without evidence as prone to fraud, even though experts say it is as safe as any other method, voted by mail in two elections since he switched his address to Florida: a presidential primary in March and a state election in August.
Biden told supporters in Pennsylvania that he misses up-close campaigning, but doesn’t want his events to become “superspreaders,” a barb aimed at Trump’s big rallies at a time of rising coronavirus cases.
At a drive-in rally in the Philadelphia suburb of Bristol, Biden said: “I don’t like the idea of all this distance, but it’s necessary.”
Biden also repeated that he has no plans to ban hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, while people in about 100 cars blared their horns. “Let me be clear," he said. "I’m not banning fracking in Pennsylvania or anywhere else.”
Still, Biden noted that climate change could lead to more catastrophic floods in places like along the nearby Delaware River.
“We can do something about it,” he said. “But we’ve got to come together.”
Trump has repeatedly accused Biden of supporting a ban on fracking. Biden mistakenly suggested during a Democratic primary debate that he did, but his campaign quickly corrected that. The former vice-president has promised to end fracking on federal land.
Biden also said during this week’s debate with Trump that the country would have to “transition away from the oil industry” to combat climate change – something he didn’t mention Saturday. Biden has since clarified that the process would be gradual and not cost people who rely on the energy sector their jobs.
Opinion polls show Biden leading Trump nationally, but the race is much closer in the crucial battleground states that will decide the election.
In Pennsylvania, polls show him narrowly leading Trump. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released earlier this week showed Biden with a four percentage point advantage over Trump in the state, down from seven points the week before.
Biden’s drive-in rallies are in Bucks County north of Philadelphia and Luzerne County near his birthplace of Scranton, where he will be joined by rocker Jon Bon Jovi. Trump handily won Luzerne County in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton and barely lost to Clinton in Bucks County.
Biden will get some help again on Saturday from Obama, who will hold a drive-in rally in Miami. Obama, still popular in the party nearly four years after leaving office, delivered a blistering attack on Trump’s leadership when he made his 2020 campaign-trail debut in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
With a report from The Associated Press