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Trump and Biden hold dueling rallies in key battleground state of Florida

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TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Pressing against stiff headwinds from the pandemic, US President Donald Trump steered toward what he hoped was safer political ground with the US economy Thursday, as Democratic rival Joe Biden kept up his assault on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.

Campaigning hours apart in Florida, a state all but essential to the Republican’s pathway to another term, both candidates urged supporters to get to polling places in person, even as a tropical storm interrupted early voting in the Southeast.

The shift to focusing on in-person voting next Tuesday — or sooner, where possible — comes as more than 80 million Americans have already cast their ballots, absentee or by mail. While the Election Day vote traditionally favors Republicans and early votes tend toward Democrats, the pandemic, which has killed more than 227,000 people in the United States, has injected new uncertainty.

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“You hold the power. If Florida goes blue, it’s over,” Biden told supporters Thursday.

Trump on Thursday was celebrating a new federal estimate that the economy grew at a stunning 33.1 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter — by far the largest quarterly gain on record — making up ground from its epic plunge in the spring, when the eruption of the coronavirus closed businesses and threw tens of millions out of work.

“So glad this great GDP number came out before November 3rd,” Trump tweeted, predicting a dire reversal if Biden is elected.

But economists warned that the economy is already weakening again and facing renewed threats as confirmed viral cases surge, hiring has slowed and federal stimulus help has mostly run out.

Some 57.4% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s coronavirus response, while 39.8% approve, according to a poll average compiled by tracker FiveThirtyEight.com. The site gives Biden an 89% chance of winning the election.

Over 228,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, and over 8.9 million have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins........

© The Times of Israel

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