By Megan Henney | Fox News
Biden leading Trump nationally, but race closer in key battlegrounds.
President Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden are set to hold dueling campaign rallies in Florida — a crucial battleground state vital to winning the White House — with just five days left in the presidential race.
The candidates will appear in Tampa hours apart on Thursday, looking to make last-minute appeals and energize Central Florida voters ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
It comes as the economy remains a top issue on the minds of voters and the Commerce Department released GDP data on Thursday showing the U.S. economy grew at a record-shattering pace in the third quarter as businesses reopened from the coronavirus shutdown — something Trump is likely to highlight as Biden attacks him over his handling of the pandemic.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last week shows Biden with a comfortable 10 percentage point lead nationally, but the race is much tighter in the key swing states candidates need to win to reach 270 electoral votes.
An aggregate of polls from RealClearPolitics shows that Trump has pulled into a virtual tie with Biden in Florida, just one week after the former vice president held a narrow lead in the state. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percentage points in the Sunshine State four years ago.
Florida, with 29 delegates up for grabs, is one of the biggest prizes on Election Day — if Trump loses the state on Tuesday, his path to reelection would be considerably more difficult.
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So far, more than 76 million Americans, including nearly 7 million Floridians, have cast early in-person and mail-in ballots, according to data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida. That’s more than half of the overall turnout in 2016.
Trump is set to hold a rally in Tampa at 1:30 p.m. EST, while Biden is scheduled to visit the city for a drive-in event at 6:30 p.m. EST. Earlier in the day, the Democratic nominee will be in South Florida’s Broward County, a blue stronghold in the state that’s home to 310,000 mostly Democratic Black voters.
Following the Florida rally, the president will travel to North Carolina, another marquee state, for a campaign rally in Fayetteville. Biden has a slim 1 percentage point lead in the state, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.
In the final leg of the campaign, Biden is seeking to frame the battle for the White House as a referendum on Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The candidate, following a virtual briefing from public health officials, delivered a speech from Wilmington, Del., addressing the virus-induced crisis.
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“Even if I win, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic. I’m not running on the false promise of being to end this pandemic by flipping a switch,” Biden said.“I do promise this: We will start on day one doing the right things.”
At the same time, Trump — who often holds more than one campaign rally per day and frequently visits more than one state on his whirlwind campaign tour of the country — spent the day campaigning in Arizona with a pair of in-person rallies.
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“Biden and the Democrat socialists will delay the vaccine, prolong the pandemic, shutter your schools and shut down our country,” Trump told attendees in Goodyear, Ariz. “And your state is open right? Your state is nice and open.”
The virus has infected more than 8.8 million Americans and killed 227,701, the most in the world.
Later this week, Biden will stump in three more states that Trump won in 2016: Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, part of his effort to rebuild the “blue wall” that his Republican opponent knocked down in 2016. In Michigan, Biden will hold a campaign rally with former President Barack Obama.
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