In Final Stretch, Candidates Chart Divergent Courses for America’s Future

November 1, 2020 Updated: November 2, 2020

On the final Sunday before Election Day, President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered their final appeals to voters at campaign rallies in top battleground states and laid out disparate agendas for the future of the United States.

Trump zigzagged on Nov. 1, speaking at rallies in Michigan, Iowa, and North Carolina before our press deadline. The incumbent Republican president was scheduled to then speak to crowds in Georgia and Florida, for a total of five rallies in a single day. Biden delivered two brief speeches at drive-in events in Pennsylvania and was scheduled to participate in a “finance event” the same evening.

The atmosphere of the events was as divergent as the two candidates’ visions for the future of the nation. Thousands of jubilant supporters poured into Trump’s densely packed outdoor rallies, with the president speaking for over an hour at each event. Biden’s events were customarily shaped by his campaign’s strict stance on measures meant to limit the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. Supporters watched the former vice president’s first event on Nov. 1 from several socially distanced cars in a church parking lot.

In a 15-minute speech at the drive-in event in Philadelphia, Biden steered clear of policy proposals and instead delivered a barrage of personal attacks on Trump. The former vice president briefly spoke about the CCP virus and what he would do if elected president. With the exception of advocating for nationwide mask and lockdown mandates, Biden’s action plan is largely the same as what the Trump administration is already executing.

“We’re going to act to get COVID under control. It’s almost criminal the way he has handled it,” Biden said. “On day one of my presidency, I’m going to put in action a plan I’ve been talking about for months: masking, social distancing, testing, tracing.”

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at Dubuque Regional Airport in Dubuque, Iowa, on Nov. 1, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Trump spent more than an hour each in Washington, Michigan, and Dubuque, Iowa, promoting the policy successes of his administration and criticizing Biden’s proposals. The president used a massive screen to play a video of Biden’s statements supportive of China and a reel of gaffes made by the former vice president on the campaign trail. Trump also outlined a distinct approach to handling the CCP virus, calling for an end to lockdowns.

“The Biden plan will turn America into a prison, locking you down while letting the far-left rioters roam free to loot and burn,” Trump said.

More than 93 million people had already voted as of Nov. 1, more than two-thirds of all the votes cast during the 2016 election. In the 20 states that report party affiliations for mail-in votes, Democrats cast nearly 7 million more votes than Republicans. In the 10 states that report party affiliations for in-person votes, Republicans cast over 700,000 more votes than Democrats.

In his second speech in Philadelphia, Biden devoted more time to policy, speaking about the Affordable Care Act, the environment, and racial justice. He criticized the Trump administration’s push to undo the health care law via a challenge in the Supreme Court and ridiculed some of Trump’s statements on the environment.

Epoch Times Photo
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a drive-in campaign rally at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 1, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“We’ll act to deliver on racial justice as well. Protesting is not burning or looting or violating. It can’t be tolerated and it won’t. But these protests are a cry for justice,” Biden said.

As of Nov. 1, the Real Clear Politics average of national polls showed Biden ahead by 7.2 points. In top battleground states, the former vice president’s lead was within the margin of error at 3.1 points.

Both candidates stressed that the choice facing voters is a monumental one, with Biden focusing on Trump’s handling of the pandemic and Trump warning about the potential negative effects that Biden’s policies could have on the economy.

“We’re at an inflection point, so we have to vote like we’ve never done before,” Biden said. “In two days, we can put an end to a presidency that’s failed to protect this nation.”

The Biden campaign has focused the main thrust of its attacks on Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

Trump spent the first leg of his campaign touting the roaring economy but has been forced to regroup due to the economic nosedive triggered by the lockdowns meant to limit the spread of the CCP virus. The president on Nov. 1 touted the rapid recovery evidenced by the 33.1 percent GDP growth in the third quarter of 2020.

“This election is a choice between a Biden depression or a Trump super boom,” the president said.

Barring a landslide victory by either candidate on the night of Nov. 3, the election results could take days to determine, due to a massive wave of mail-in ballots and changes in how late states can receive and count the votes arriving by mail. Ballots can be returned by mail after Election Day in 24 states, including key battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, and Minnesota, according to AP Election Research Group. The secretary of state of Pennsylvania, which some view as the state that may decide the election, said that all ballots would be counted in a matter of days.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov