By Jairo Mejia, Alfonso Fernandez and Alex Segura
Philadelphia/Detroit/Austin, Nov 2 (efe-epa).- Pennsylvania and Michigan, two traditionally Democratic states that flipped four years ago to elect Donald Trump, and the long-time Republican stronghold of Texas are poised to play a decisive role as the United States chooses its president amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Trump won the White House in 2016 on the strength of narrow victories in Pennsylvania and Michigan, part of the so-called Blue Wall of Democratic states extending across what was once America’s industrial heartland.
While polls show Democratic challenger Joe Biden leading the president in Michigan and Pennsylvania, the former vice president is taking nothing for granted and the incumbent remains determined to keep those states in his column.
Trump is set to end his campaign Monday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the site of his final rally in 2016, while Biden will wrap up his last-minute push for votes in Pennsylvania with an event in Pittsburgh featuring pop music superstar Lady Gaga.
Four years ago, the real estate mogul took Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes by a margin of fewer than 45,000 votes.
Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is spending the last 48 hours before election day in the Keystone State, aside from a brief excursion to neighboring Ohio.
The 77-year-old held two rallies Sunday in Philadelphia, the first a gathering with African American pastors and their congregations aimed at mobilizing the Black vote.
Though many people have already cast their ballots by mail or taken advantage of early voting, data-analytics firm Catalist US says that 75 percent of Black registered voters have not voted yet.
“My message is simple: Pennsylvania is critical in this election,” Biden said during a “Souls to the Polls” event Sunday at Sharon Baptist Church.
“Every single vote matters,” the man who served as Barack Obama’s vice president said. “The power to change this country is literally in your hands.”
Biden, who has taken to holding “drive-in” events to minimize the risk of spreading the coronovirus, again attacked Trump for his handling of the pandemic, which has claimed 231,000 lives in the US.
African Americans and Hispanics have been hit especially hard by Covid-19, with rates of both infections and deaths that are out of proportion to their numbers relative to the population as a whole.
“Every single day we’re seeing race-based disparities in every aspect of this virus,” Biden said, calling Trump’s approach to the pandemic “almost criminal.”
While Biden speaks in Pittsburgh, his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, will be at the other end of the state in Philadelphia for a rally where she is to be joined by singer John Legend.
Michigan, the home of the US auto industry, was seen for years as a Democratic bastion due to a largely unionized blue-collar workforce.
But the auto sector has suffered in recent decades and though the Obama administration kept the Big Three – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – afloat in 2009 with a federal rescue package, Trump snatched Michigan (16 electoral votes) from Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by less than 11,000 votes.
Speaking Sunday in cold, windy conditions in Washington, Michigan, Trump referred to the state’s role in getting him elected four years ago.
“If we didn’t win last time, I probably wouldn’t even be standing here. I’d get up here, say ‘no thanks,'” the president quipped after complaining more than once about the cold and gusty winds.
Michigan has been the scene of one of the strangest events of a very strange year.