President Donald Trump sought to boost his standing in the battleground state of Florida on Friday by reaching out to seniors, while rival Joe Biden criticized Trump’s response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic on a tour of the swing state of Michigan.
In Florida, the president delivered remarks on “Protecting America’s Seniors,” telling audience members he is honored to “reaffirm [his] solemn pledge to America’s seniors.”
“It’s so important to me. I happen to be a senior,” Trump said. “I will protect you, I will defend you, and I will fight for you with every ounce of energy and conviction that I have. You devoted your life to this country, and I am devoting my life to you.”
“As President, I’m deeply aware that America’s 54 million seniors have borne the heaviest burden of the China virus,” he continued. “Many older Americans have endured months of isolation, missing weddings, births, graduations, church, and family reunions. You know that very well. You know it all too well.”
After spending the day in Florida, Trump held a rally in Georgia, traditionally a Republican stronghold.
While Trump was campaigning in Florida and Georgia, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has stepped up travel in recent weeks after keeping a reduced schedule because of the CCP virus, returned to Michigan on Friday, where he criticized Trump for not doing enough to combat the pandemic, racism, and hatred in the country.
“He’ll do anything to distract us from focusing on his failures to deal with this virus and to protect the nation,” Biden said, in repeated claims the Trump administration failed to respond to the pandemic.
Biden also said Trump did not strongly condemn white supremacy and the 13 individuals charged last week in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“Hate never goes away. It only hides,” Biden said. “It never goes away. And if you give it oxygen, it comes out from under the rocks and grows.”
Whitmer, who is a co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign, also previously criticized Trump, claiming the president failed to condemn hate groups, to which Trump responded he “does not tolerate any extreme violence.”
“I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President!” Trump said on Twitter following Whitmer’s criticism.
…I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President! Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2020
As Trump will campaign in Michigan and Wisconsin on Saturday, Biden said he is planning to remain in his home state of Delaware. Trump’s advisers have long seen Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as Pennsylvania, as key states in his re-election. Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes, and Michigan has 16. Nevada, where Trump will campaign on Sunday, has six electoral votes.
Trump’s string of campaign stops comes ahead of a critical week next week. The two candidates will face each other in their second and final debate on Thursday.
Reuters contributed to this report.