Miami, Oct 29 (efe-epa).- Five days before the US election and with more than 7.3 million votes already cast in Florida, President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden faced off on Thursday in a pair of simultaneous campaign rallies in which they focused, respectively, on the economy and the government’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a hard-fought duel for Florida’s 29 electoral votes, which are almost surely needed by Trump if the Republicans hope to retain the White House – Biden, on the other hand, does not necessarily need Florida to win, since he is ahead in the voter surveys in many other states – both candidates urged Floridians to vote with the president doing so from Tampa and the Democrat from Coconut Creek, 25 miles north of Miami.
The Republican boasted before his crowd – most of them not wearing facemasks – about his economic record, with quarterly figures being announced earlier on Thursday by the administration, while Biden skewered the president in a less boisterous event in Broward County over the tragic death toll from the pandemic, pointing to “more than 16,000 deaths” in Florida and some 228,000 in the US as a whole.
In calling for his supporters to provide him with another term as president, Trump – accompanied by first lady Melania Trump on a very hot and humid day – brandished a 33.1 percent interannual growth rate in the economy, as extrapolated from the third quarter economic figures announced Thursday.
Trump touted what he called “explosive economic growth” and repeatedly called 33.1 percent the “greatest number” anyone had ever seen.
“We’re never going to lock down again,” the president said. “We’ve understood the disease. Joe Biden’s plan is to deliver punishing lockdowns. He’s going to lock you down.”
Meanwhile, Biden noted during another of his now common drive-in rallies with some 200 vehicles with drivers and their passengers inside on the campus of Broward County College, that 100,000 lives “can still be saved” this year if people would just wear facemasks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Promising that he would not “shut down” the economy or the country, Biden said that he would get the virus under control.
He also said that Trump had significantly damaged the solid economy he inherited from the 2009-2017 Barack Obama/Joe Biden administration that preceded him.
Biden said that Trump has surrendered to the coronavirus, a reference to the Republican administration’s recent acknowledgment that it was not going to try and “control” the pandemic.
He’s not doing anything, said Biden, adding that the president is abandoning families and surrendering to the virus.
“He knows if you vote, he can’t win,” Biden said of the president. “He knows when America votes, they reject people like him. We choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division, and we choose science over fiction. And, yes, we choose truth over lies.”
“If Florida goes blue, it’s over,” the former vice president said.
Meanwhile, Trump promised that the coronavirus pandemic is ending and that a vaccine will be ready very soon, a scenario that he claimed would propel a “powerful” economic recovery next year, as reflected in the quarterly data that came out today showing 7.4 percent growth in the third quarter over the preceding three-month period.
Biden also pointed up the contradiction between Trump’s hard line stance toward the dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba with his complacency over US relations with authoritarian leaders like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
He said that Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago, adding that Trump also doesn’t seem to understand that Venezuelan and Cuban citizens are being deported from the US back to those “dictatorships.”
Trump doesn’t care about Cubans or Venezuelans, said Biden to the assembled drivers at the car rally, adding that he has been against leftist and rightist dictatorships for his entire political career, supporting human rights and a free press.
Trump, addressing the crowd in Tampa, which has fewer Hispanics than in South Florida, promised to adhere to his hard line vs. the socialist regimes, including Nicaragua.
Wearing his characteristic red Make America Great Again baseball cap, Trump once again delivered his standard campaign promises and attacks on the press in a rambling speech lasting about 90 minutes.
He lambasted Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, who revealed on Wednesday that he is the anonymous author of an op-ed and a book criticizing the president, going on to criticize the media coverage of the matter.