Trump, Biden hit battleground Pennsylvania amid pandemic

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President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Altoona-Blair County Airport, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Martinsburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden zeroed in on the critical battleground of Pennsylvania on Monday, demonstrating starkly different approaches to rallying voters just eight days before polls close during the worst public health crisis in a century.

Trump drew thousands of largely mask-less supporters as he began a final-week charge through nearly a dozen states ahead of the election. Biden, taking a more cautious approach in effort to show that he’s taking the pandemic seriously, greeted a few dozen supporters outside a Chester, Pennsylvania, campaign field office.

“Bottom line is Donald Trump is the worst possible person to lead us through this pandemic,” Biden said as he sharpened his closing message into an indictment of Trump’s handling of the virus. Trump, meanwhile, stoked fears about Biden’s plans to address the outbreak.

“It’s a choice between a Trump boom or a Biden lockdown,” Trump claimed at a rally in Allentown, focusing on the economy and the possibility of lost jobs.

Trump returned to the White House to celebrate the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett Monday evening. Trump has sought to use the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month to animate conservative evangelical and Catholic voters to his candidacy, but the high court fight has been overshadowed by virus concerns.

In Pennsylvania, Trump also touted the appointment of another conservative justice as potentially giving him an edge in election-related litigation surrounding a surge in absentee and mail ballots due to the pandemic.

For each candidate, the differing campaign approaches carry risks.

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 missed opportunity.