President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will hold competing rallies in the battleground state of Florida on Thursday, just five days ahead of Election Day amid record economic growth data released by the Commerce Department.
Both candidates will travel to Tampa where they will make last-minute appeals to voters in the president’s home state, hours apart, Fox News reported.
While Biden, who is embroiled in a growing corruption scandal involving his family, will no doubt continue hammering the president over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump is sure to tout the record-blasting third-quarter economic growth figures as one reason to give him a second term.
The Commerce Department reported that the economy grew a staggering 33.1 percent during the July-September time frame after falling behind 31.4 percent in the second quarter (April-June) due to widespread pandemic closures of businesses mandated by governors and mayors.
“The increase in third-quarter GDP reflected continued efforts to reopen businesses and resume activities that were postponed or restricted due to COVID-19,” the department said in a statement detailing gross domestic product growth figures.
Trump campaign communications chief Tim Murtaugh noted the record single-quarter growth in a statement, saying that the economic rebound from the virus is “validation of President Trump’s policies which create jobs and opportunities for Americans in every corner of the country.”
Specifically, Murtaugh pointed to the Trump administration’s and Republicans’ policies of “cutting taxes and reducing regulations and red tape” which he said served to “clear the way for American ingenuity and our entrepreneurial spirit to thrive.”
National polling still has Biden ahead comfortably, but the president has been gaining ground in key battleground states such as Florida, which is one of the biggest electoral vote prizes in the country with 29.
Thus far this election cycle, more than 71 million Americans — 7 million alone in Florida — have already cast their ballots, far more than in any previous election and more than half the total number of ballots cast in 2016.
The president’s rally is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. EDT, while Biden will stage a drive-in event at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Earlier in the day, Biden travels to South Florida’s Broward County, a Democratic stronghold home to about 310,000 mostly black party supporters.
After the Tampa rally, Trump will travel to another battleground state — North Carolina — for a rally in Fayetteville.
In the final stages of the campaign, Biden reportedly will focus primarily on the Trump administration’s coronavirus response. That said, Biden acknowledged that suppressing the pandemic won’t be easy for him, either.
“Even if I win, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic. I’m not running on the false promise of being to end this pandemic by flipping a switch,” Biden said during a speech in his hometown of Wilmington, Del. this week.
But this week’s record economic recovery numbers will unquestionably be utilized by the president as justification for another term.
The economy was gangbusters prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., with more jobs than workers able to fill them. In February before the pandemic hit, the unemployment rate was the lowest it had been — 3.5 percent — nationally, and for every demographic, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.
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