Donald Trump and Joe Biden hit swing states as campaign draws to a close
US President Donald Trump spent the last day of campaigning for the presidential election delivering an incendiary but unsupported allegation the poll is rigged.
His opponent at the ballot box, Joe Biden, also hit swing states on Monday placing an emphasis on the Covid-19 pandemic which has led to the deaths of 230,000 Americans.
Both candidates offer vastly differing visions for the country as it confronts the virus, the starkest economic contraction since the Great Depression and a population divided on cultural and racial issues.
Meanwhile, results were mixed among the two small New Hampshire communities that vote for the president just after the stroke of midnight on Election Day.
The results in Dixville Notch, near the Canadian border, were a sweep for former vice president Joe Biden who won the town’s five votes, while in Millsfield, 12 miles to the south, President Donald Trump won 16 votes to Mr Biden’s five.
Both Mr Trump and Mr Biden differed sharply on Monday on the voting process itself while campaigning in the most fiercely contested battleground of Pennsylvania.
The president threatened legal action to stop counting beyond Election Day in the state.
If Pennsylvania ballot counting takes several days, as is allowed, Mr Trump alleged that “cheating can happen like you have never seen”.
Going further, Mr Trump even tweeted about election-related “violence in the streets,” though none has occurred.
Mr Biden, for his part, said: “I’m not going to respond to anything he has to say. I’m hoping for a straightforward, peaceful election with a lot of people showing up.”
Mr Biden, earlier in Pittsburgh, delivered a voting rights message to a mostly black audience, declaring that Mr Trump believes “only wealthy folks should vote” and describing Covid-19 as a “mass casualty event for Black Americans”.
“We’re done with the chaos, we’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility,” said Mr Biden, whose campaign has focused on increasing turnout by black voters, who could prove the difference in several battleground states.
Both campaigns insist they have a pathway to victory, though Mr Biden’s options for winning the required 270 Electoral College votes are more plentiful.
Mr Trump is banking on a surge of enthusiasm from his most loyal supporters in addition to potential legal manoeuvres.
The president spent the final full campaign day sprinting through five rallies, from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to Wisconsin with his final rally, just like four years earlier, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Mr Biden devoted most of his time to Pennsylvania, where a win would leave Mr Trump with an exceedingly narrow path.
He also dipped into Ohio, a show of confidence in a state that Mr Trump won by eight percentage points four years ago.
Focusing on the pandemic, Mr Biden said: “The first step to beating the virus is beating Donald Trump”.
He promised he would retain the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, whom the president has talked of firing.
Mr Trump, meanwhile, made only passing mention of what his aides believe are his signature accomplishments – the nation’s economic rebound, the recent installation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett – in favour of a torrent of grievance and combativeness.
He angrily decried the media’s coverage of the campaign while complaining that he also was being treated unfairly by, in no particular order, China, the Electoral College system and rock singer Jon Bon Jovi.
“I have been under siege illegally for three-and-a-half years. I wonder what it would be like if we didn’t have all of this horrible stuff. We’d have a very, very calm situation,” said Mr Trump at an evening rally in Michigan.
“People see that we fight and I’m fighting for you. I’m fighting to survive. You have to survive.”
Later in Wisconsin, he stopped himself short in mid-sentence: “This isn’t about … yeah, it is about me, I guess, when you think about it.”
Nearly 100 million votes have already been cast, through early voting or postal ballots, which could lead to delays in counting.
Mr Trump has spent months claiming without evidence that the votes would be ripe for fraud and refusing to guarantee that he would honour the election result.