JANESVILLE, Wisconsin (AP) – President Donald Trump leaned into fear tactics on Saturday as he accused the left of trying to “destroy the American way of life” in a late re-election tone to voters in Michigan and Wisconsin – two Midwestern states that were contributing to his victory in 2016, but may now slip from his grip.
In back-to-back meetings, Trump accused the left of “erasing American history” and “purifying American values.” He argued without cause that Democratic rival Joe Biden would endanger society.
Trump offered the dark message when faced with headwinds not only in the national vote, which shows Biden leading, but also in important battlefield surveys. His comments come after his campaign with far less cash than Bidens, and largely withdrew from TV commercials in the Midwest, moving much of his money to Sun Belt states like Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia as well as Pennsylvania.
As he tries to strengthen his base and keep voters on the fence from turning against him, Trump tried to paint Democrats as “anti-American radicals”
“The Democratic Party, as you once knew, does not exist,” he said.
It was the same on a case-by-case basis, when he claimed in hyperbolic terms that Biden’s election would spur “the largest single depression in our country’s history” and “turn Michigan into a refugee camp.”
In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Trump warned that Biden would “close the country, delay the vaccine and prolong the pandemic.” Public health experts say the nation would be in far better shape if the Trump administration had taken more aggressive action early.
And while he repeatedly predicted victory, Trump seemed to struggle all day with the prospect of actually losing in November.
In Michigan, he claimed that in January he “better cursed being president. In Wisconsin, he wondered how he would deal with a loss.
Can you imagine if I lose? “I want to lose to the worst candidate in the history of American politics,” he said. “What should I do?”
Trump has continued to hold demonstrations despite the threat from the coronavirus, which hospitalized him for several days earlier this month.
Wisconsin broke the record for new positive virus cases on Friday – the third time in a week. The state also hit record highs for daily deaths and hospitalizations in the past week.
But there were few signs of concern among the thousands of supporters Trump drew in both states, with audiences standing close together in the cold, mostly without masks.
Trump went on to urge Michigan Government Gretchen Whitmer to revoke restrictions that are still in place to try to stop the spread of the virus, causing the crowd to break into a “Lock her in!” song. (The same song also sang out after he mentioned his 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.)
Whitmer, a Democrat, was the focus of a kidnapping plan by extremists against the government who became angry over lockdown measures. Thirteen men have been charged in connection with the scheme, which included plans to storm the Capitol and to hold a sort of trial for the governor.
“You need to get your governor to open up your state and get your schools open. Schools need to be open, right? Said Trump, who also took credit for the role of federal law enforcement in destroying the plot.
Whitmer’s digital director, Tori Saylor, called on Trump to stop.
“Every time the president does this in a meeting, the violent rhetoric against her immediately escalates on social media,” she tweeted. “It must stop. It just has to. ”
Meanwhile, Biden had no scheduled public events on Saturday. But in a note to supporters, campaign leader Jen O’Malley warned Dillon to become complacent.
“The reality is that this race is far closer than some of the experts we see on Twitter and on TV suggest,” she wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “If we learned anything from 2016, it is that we can not underestimate Donald Trump or his ability to claw his way back into conflict in the last days of a campaign, no matter what smear or underhand tactic he has available.”
Trump has an aggressive campaign plan in the coming days, with rallies scheduled Sunday in Nevada, Monday in Arizona and Tuesday in Pennsylvania.
But Trump’s schedule suggests concern. On Friday, he fought in Georgia – a state that no Republican presidential candidate has lost since 1992, but where the vote shows Trump and Biden in a tough competition. Trump has also been forced to judge voters in Iowa, which he had by nearly 10 percentage points four years ago.
Recent figures for collecting campaigns from the Trump team suggest that he is likely to be the first incumbent president of the modern era to face an economic disadvantage. After building a massive cash benefit, his campaign spent lavishly, while Biden kept spending low and benefited from an outpouring of donations that saw him raise nearly $ 1 billion over the past three months. It gives Biden a massive cash advantage with just over two weeks to go before the election.
Trump claimed Saturday that he would be “the biggest fundraiser in the history of politics” if he tried but did not want to call and did not need the money.
Slodysko reported from Washington.