Trump and Biden make final play for crucial Michigan voters

The President was able to turn the state Republican in 2016 and needs it to stay that way

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With just days to go before Tuesday's vote, both contenders for United States president made stops in the critical battleground state of Michigan.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump held an outdoor rally for thousands of supporters in Michigan’s Washington Township, just north of Detroit.

The event was so popular, police blocked off several roads around the Total Sports Park venue preventing hundreds of people hoping to attend the rally from entering.

They gathered instead in adjacent farmland determined to still catch a glimpse of their political leader.

A view of the president’s circling helicopter was as close as they got.

Suzanne, 49, and her daughter Mallory, 16, rode 8 kilometres on their bikes through light snow and in frigid temperatures to watch the President speak.

“We couldn’t get in so we’re just watching across the river,” said Suzanne who already cast her vote for Mr Trump by absentee ballot.

Michigan emerged as one of the most important states for Mr Trump in the 2016 election. It was one of three states in the upper midwest that Mr Trump was able to flip Republican in order to secure his path to the White House.

But with a victory margin in Michigan of just under 11,000 votes or 0.23 per cent of the electorate, Mr Trump is working hard to keep up support.

Recent polls show Mr Trump trailing behind Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the state by several points - as he is nationwide.


Mr Biden is digging into Mr Trump’s margins with white, less-educated voters in the state, as well as suburban women who have abandoned support for Mr Trump over some of his tougher policies.

But that isn’t the case for Suzanne.

“I don’t always agree with him, but I feel he’s all we have to fight for us,” she said. “I love that he is the people’s president.

WASHINGTON, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 01: Supporters listen as President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on November 01, 2020 in Washington, Michigan. Only days before the U.S. election, President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden campaigned in crucial swing states.   John Moore/Getty Images/AFP
Mr Trump is working hard to keep up support in Michigan. AFP

"He’s there fighting the government—both Democrats and Republicans, he’s fighting the deep state, he’s fighting the media, he’s fighting big social media—Twitter, Facebook—he’s fighting everyone. It’s like him and us against everyone.”

Covid no deterrent to Trump supporters

The crowds of supporters were not deterred by the threat of coronavirus.

A recently published study by Stanford University estimated that there have been at least 30,000 coronavirus infections and 700 deaths as a result of 18 campaign rallies President Trump held from June to September.

Rosa Scott who drove to the rally from Columbiaville, some 75 kilometres away, said she knew friends who were considering supporting Mr Biden because of Mr Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But she was unconvinced by their argument.

“This is something that’s going to be here for a while but he’s doing the best that he can,” the war veteran said of Mr Trump’s approach to the pandemic. “People are going to die regardless.”

Rosa Scott will be voting for Donald Trump and is sceptical that another president could have handled the pandemic any better. Willy Lowry
Rosa Scott will be voting for Donald Trump and is sceptical that another president could have handled the pandemic any better. Willy Lowry

Biden teams up with Obama

In contrast with Mr Trump’s tightly packed crowds, Mr Biden opted to hold two socially-distanced drive-in rallies in Detroit and Flint on Saturday where attendees stayed in their cars.

The former vice president was joined on stage by his one-time boss Barack Obama. “Three days until the most important election of our lifetimes, and that includes mine which was pretty important,” joked the former president to cheers and honks.

It was the first time the two have attended a campaign rally together during this election. Mr Obama received massive support from Democrats in Detroit and throughout Michigan in both 2008 and 2012.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, right, and former President Barack Obama greet each other with an air elbow bump, at the conclusion of rally at Northwestern High School in Flint, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The boys are back in town: Michigan was a fortress for Barack Obama both in 2008 and 2012. AP

The Biden campaign is hoping his appearance in the final days of the campaign will boost support.

Mr Biden is banking on increased support from Black voters this election, so big turnouts in cities like Flint and Detroit would bode well for his chances in the state.

And he will be hoping that this Barack Obama basketball special is another omen of success.

The appearances are also an attempt to correct the mistakes of Hillary Clinton in 2016 who was criticized for not spending enough time campaigning in midwestern states such as Michigan.

While it appears to be Mr Biden’s last time in Michigan before Tuesday’s vote, Mr Trump will return to the state for two more appearances.

On Monday, President Trump will be in Traverse City before holding a rally in Grand Rapids—the site of his 2016 campaign finale—perhaps hoping the city will bring him victor’s luck once again.