LITITZ, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump embarked Monday on a final-week charge through nearly a dozen states ahead of the election, overlooking a surge of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and a fresh outbreak in his own White House. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, is holding far fewer events in an effort to demonstrate that he’s taking the worsening pandemic seriously.

The final days of the campaign are crystalizing the starkly different approaches Trump and Biden have taken to address the worst public health crisis in a century — with risks for each candidate.

“It’s a choice between a Trump boom or a Biden lockdown," Trump claimed Monday in Pennsylvania.

For Trump, the full-speed-ahead strategy could spread the virus in places that are already setting new records and leave him appearing aloof to the consequences. And if Biden comes up short in the election, his lower-key travel schedule will surely come under scrutiny as a bad choice.

Both men are making points with their travel plans. Trump was holding three events in Pennsylvania alone on Monday, suggesting he’s on defense in a state that he won in 2016 and that will be critical to his reelection. Biden, meanwhile, is demonstrating more confidence with signals that he’s hoping to expand his campaign map.

Though the Democrat was remaining close on Monday to his Wilmington, Delaware, home, on Tuesday he will visit Georgia, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992. He’s dispatching his running mate, Kamala Harris, later this week to Texas, which hasn’t backed a Democrat for the White House since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

With more than a third of the expected ballots in the election already cast, it could become increasingly challenging for Trump and Biden to reshape the contours of the race. But both men are fighting for any endgame advantage. Biden is leading Trump in most national polls and has an advantage, though narrower, in many key battlegrounds.

While the final week of the campaign is colliding with deepening concerns about the COVID crisis in far-flung parts of the U.S., Trump is anxious for voters to focus on almost anything else. He's worried that he will lose if the election becomes a referendum on his handling of the pandemic. Biden, meanwhile, is working to ensure the race is just that, hitting Trump on the virus and presenting himself as a safer, more stable alternative.

The stakes were clear this past weekend as the White House became the locus for a second outbreak of the virus in a month. Several close aides to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive, including his chief of staff, Marc Short. Pence, though, was insistent on maintaining his aggressive political calendar, even though he was deemed a “close contact," claiming the status of an “essential employee.”

Trump was set to receive a boost Monday evening, when the Senate is expected to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, completing the president's efforts to bring about conservative transformation of the federal bench. But in the closing days of the race, the Trump accomplishment was struggling to break through the renewed virus concerns.

With Election Day just over a week away, average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.

The latest national outbreak has provide a potent sign of the divergent approaches the Trump and Biden campaigns have taken to the virus. On Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that “we’re not going to control the pandemic” and the focus should be on containment and treatment. Trump aims to pack thousands of people, most without face coverings, into rallies across some of the upper Midwestern states bearing the brunt of the surge.

Biden, in a statement, said Meadows’ comments continued with the Trump administration waving “the white flag of defeat” in the face of the virus.

Trump fired back Monday as he arrived in Pennsylvania, saying Biden, with his concerns about the virus spread, has "waved a white flag on life."

He rejected Biden’s comments that the nation is facing a “dark winter," saying, “No it’s not going to be a dark winter. It’s going to be a great winter. It’s going to be a great spring.”

Biden’s team argues the coronavirus is likely to blot out any other issues that might come up in the final days of the campaign — including his recent debate-stage comment in which he affirmed he’d transition away from oil, later walking that back as a transition away from federal subsidies. That strategy appeared to pay off as the outbreak in Pence’s staff refocused the national conversation once again on the pandemic.

Trump and his team, meanwhile, have struggled to settle on a closing message, with the undisciplined candidate increasingly trusting his instincts over his advisers. He’s grasped for dirt on his Democratic rival and used apocalyptic terms to describe a Biden presidency, but Biden has thus far proven more resistant to such attacks than Trump’s 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton.

“You can certainly expect that (Biden) will focus on COVID as it continues to, unfortunately, rise all across the country,” Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in an interview. “It is disrupting people’s lives and people are looking for a leader to put in place plans to get it under control.”

Anticipating a razor-thin Electoral College margin, Trump has an aggressive schedule including a visit Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday after a Sunday visit to Maine, aiming to lock up one electoral vote in each of the states that award them by congressional district. Trump is scheduled hold a dizzying 11 rallies in the final 48 hours before polls close.

Biden is sitting on more campaign cash than Trump and is putting it to use, blanketing airwaves with a nearly 2-to-1 advantage over the final two weeks. The incessant campaign ads feature both upbeat messages and blistering criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

It’s part of what Josh Schwerin, the senior strategist for Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, says has helped Biden gain an advantage.

Democrats have been heartened by their lead in the record numbers of early votes that have been cast across a number of battleground states — though they caution that Republicans are more likely to turn out on Election Day and certain to make up ground.

Four years ago, Clinton also enjoyed a lead in national and some state polls, and Democrats say their complacency doomed their candidate.

———

Miller reported from Washington and Jaffe reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani and Jonathan Lemire in Washington contributed to this report.

(32) comments

jth7100

Bosco, the masks are primarily to protect others. I see your head's perpetually impacted as usual.[ninja]

Greg F

He really would not surprise me if he caught it again. I wouldn’t care, would you?

shiftless88

SuperSpreader 2020. Make America Sick Again!!

MRS M

Wearing a mask today is part of attainable disease prevention that involves just a small modicum of unselfish and intelligent personal responsibilty, just as employing personal risk reduction for cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases reduces risk. That some Americans continue to debate the usefulness of wearing a mask in the interest of their personal liberty is more simple-minded and short term than words can describe. But hey, that's Trump's America today; weakminded, selfish, self-involved, ignorant. Wearing a mask is "tiring" or displays "weakness' for some of our "bravest" Americans...more proof of the fish rotting from the head.

Covid deaths are one devastating number counted each day. But the other cost, conveniently ignored, is the actual cost of caring for Covid patients for 10, 20, 30 inpatient days or more. Who's ultimately going to pay this nearly inconceivable bill to hospitals? It's telling that superspreader Trump, his allies, and his non-mask-wearing apostles choose to ignore what will be the ultimate crushing cost to ALL Americans in hospital bad debt and the costs to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. No long term thinking involved here. What happens beyond Nov. 3rd, 2020, is of no importance to Trump, who will darkly skulk away for a flight to Mar-A-Lago while leaving the smoking remains of America's health care disaster for others to clean up. It's Trump's M.O., well known and predictable. And even the selfish and short-sighted folks still defending their inalienable right to not wear a mask.....will be left holding the bag.

jth7100

Reader expresses many people's sentiment. Why should we want to help other people? The masks are to prevent the wearer from infecting other people not to protect yourself. Stand up and pull your head out.

bosco

The masks serve to protect others and you. Pull your head out and follow the science.

[ninja]

Hayduke2

We are approaching the total number of deaths caused by WW2 and Trump is more concerned with holding rallies to boost his ego trip. Think about that? Imagine FDR doing the same during WW2. Sad.

Dwasserba

"For Trump, the full-speed-ahead strategy could spread the virus in places that are already setting new records and leave him appearing aloof to the consequences." A friend who lives near Erie who resists "the world's systems" (does not vote) told me several days ago how happy she is not to have to worry about this virus because of where she lives. Then there is a rally dispersing x-number of possibly contaminated people who-knows-where. Just this week she re-opened her gallery after losing her husband and I made sure she knows about distancing and masks and she does. Small consolation and mixed reaction since business so far is promising. Trying very hard not to hate Trump as I refuse to hate. Hope he's not counting on the angry vote.

DickD

Trump is a desperate man, who is being exposed for the fraud he is. Anyone voting for Trump has lost their mind.

Reader1954

if you think the mask protects you from everything then wear it and leave everybody else alone

public-redux

If you are wearing pants and the naked guy next to you pees on you, might not some of the urine get thru your pants and onto your skin? Now suppose he is also wearing pants when he pees toward you. Don’t you think you it is more likely that your skin will remain dry? This isn’t hard to understand.

bosco

Oh my, public, that's one of the best analogies I've seen. Is that original?

[lol][lol][lol][lol][ninja]

public-redux

Nope. Saw it somewhere.

DickD

Put your panoramic ,Bosco. [lol]

Francine9

huh?

threecents

And then that person who got peed on gets the compulsion to take off his pants and pee on other people - anyone within about 6 ft - so it snowballs.

bosco

Just don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining and we'll be OK threecents. Agreed?

[ninja]

public-redux

bosco, That sounds positively Trumpian.

DickD

Better something than nothing, Reader.

newspostreader

Reader1954 - You are part of the problem. As long as we have people like you the virus will continue to spread. It helps. It's proven to help. Does it prevent 100%? No, but it greatly reduces transmission. It's a shame you can't do something so simple violates your rights then think about how those people feel who really have their rights ripped from them. Oh wait, you probably don't care about them either.

Hayduke2

And you Reader are why we have the rise in cases... Own it!

Francine9

The mask protects US from YOU. We can all be carrying the virus without knowing it, so if we all wear masks, the likelihood of spreading to others is reduced.

bosco

So RHOM, once I take the Trump vaccine, I can quit wearing a mask to protect others?

[ninja]

phydeaux994

I’ll repeat what many are trying to pound into your head Reader1954, my mask protects YOU, not me. Any responsible citizen would reciprocate and wear a mask to protect ME. Again Reader, your mask protects OTHERS, their masks protect YOU. Is that too hard for you to understand???

bosco

Quit virtue signaling, Fido. The mask does protect YOU as well. Regardless, wear a mask.

[ninja]

threecents

Reader, You missed a key subtlety. You are not a scientist, so I am not blaming you, but Nobody ever said masks protect 100%. Masks simply reduce spread of the virus. If the whole herd (you, me, and everyone else) wears masks, distances from each other, and washes hands frequently, then the virus will not spread nearly as much. If part of the herd carries on as normal, then everyone gets screwed - not just the people who aren't wearing masks. Note: this is slightly different from the herd immunity concept. That hopefully happens after most people are vaccinated, but that won't happen until another 6 months or so. Maybe longer. Stay with us because we need you.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] three!

newspostreader

He cares nothing about this virus. He wants Americans to think it is nothing to worry about. Meanwhile our friends and family end up in the hospital because his cult members can't wear a simple mask.

matts853

Trump is the virus incarnate. Vote the virus out.

threecents

Trump is the China Plague?

Greg F

The replague-again party...their catching their second wave momentum.

Greg F

I wish i could make a trump faced masks with virus spike hair and spikes on him. A bit late now.

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