Dueling versions of reality define 1st week of fall campaign

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a community event at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha Wis., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

NEW YORK – On the campaign trail with President Donald Trump, the pandemic is largely over, the economy is roaring back, and murderous mobs are infiltrating America's suburbs.

With Democrat Joe Biden, the pandemic is raging, the economy isn't lifting the working class, and systemic racism threatens Black lives across America.

The first week of the fall sprint to Election Day crystallized dizzyingly different versions of reality as the Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger trekked from Washington and Delaware to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and back, each man on an urgent mission to sell his particular message to anxious voters.

All the conflicting messages carry at least a sliver of truth, some much more than others, as the candidates fight to navigate one of the most turbulent election seasons in modern history. And beyond legitimate crises threatening public health, the economy and public safety, a new divide erupted Friday over the military.

Trump aggressively denied allegations reported late Thursday that in 2018, he described U.S. service members killed in World War I and buried at an American military cemetery in France as “losers” and “suckers." The report, sourced anonymously by The Atlantic and largely confirmed by The Associated Press, comes as Trump tries to win support from military members and their families by highlighting a commitment to veterans' health care and military spending.

“I’ve done more for the military than almost anyone else,” Trump said Friday from the Oval Office, after describing the allegations on social media as “a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election.”

At roughly the same time at a podium in Delaware, Biden leaned into the damaging reports about his opponent.

“Let me be clear: My son Beau, who volunteered to go to Iraq, was not a sucker,” Biden declared, pounding the podium. “The men and women who served with him are not suckers, and the service men and women he served with, who did not come home, are not losers.”