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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is making a late reelection pitch to voters Saturday in Michigan and Wisconsin, states in the Upper Midwest that were instrumental to his 2016 victory but may now be slipping from his grasp.

He’s facing headwinds not only in national polling, which shows Democrat Joe Biden leading, but also in battleground surveys.

The Trump campaign has largely retreated from the TV advertising in the Midwest, shifting much of its money to Sun Belt states such as Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia, as well as Pennsylvania.

Trump scheduled events in Muskegon, Michigan, and Janesville, Wisconsin, and stops Sunday in Nevada and Monday in Arizona as the Nov. 3 election nears.

The president continues to be dogged by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wisconsin broke the record for new positive coronavirus cases on Friday — the third time that’s happened in a week. The state also hit record highs for daily deaths and hospitalizations this past week.

Biden had no public events planned for Saturday. But in a memo to supporters, campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon warned about becoming complacent.

“The reality is that this race is far closer than some of the punditry we’re seeing on Twitter and on TV would suggest,” she wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “If we learned anything from 2016, it’s that we cannot underestimate Donald Trump or his ability to claw his way back into contention in the final days of a campaign, through whatever smears or underhanded tactics he has at his disposal.”

Trump is keeping up an aggressive campaign schedule despite his own recent bout of coronavirus, which hospitalized him for several days.

The difficulty of securing a second term was apparent Friday when Trump campaigned in Georgia. No Republican presidential contender has lost the state since 1992, but polling shows Trump and Biden in a tight contest. Trump also has had to court voters in Iowa, which he carried by almost 10 percentage points four years ago.

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The latest campaign fundraising figures from the Trump team suggest he’s likely the first incumbent president in the modern era to face a money disadvantage. After building a massive cash edge, his campaign spent lavishly, while Biden kept expenses low and benefited from an outpouring of donations that saw him raise over a $1 billion over the past three months. That gives Biden a massive cash advantage with just over two weeks to go before the election.

In the hours before his rallies on Saturday, Trump focused on settling a score with a member of his own party, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Referring to him as “Little Ben Sasse,” Trump tweeted that the senator was a “liability to the Republican Party, and an embarrassment to the Great State of Nebraska.”

The series of tweets came after Sasse told constituents during a telephone townhall on Wednesday that Trump has “flirted with white supremacists,” mocks Christian evangelicals in private and “kisses dictators’ butts.”

Sasse, who is up for reelection this year in the strongly Republican state, went on to criticize the president’s handling of the coronavirus and said Trump’s family has treated the presidency “like a business opportunity.”

Trump twitter broadside blasted Sasse as “the least effective of our 53 Republican Senators, and a person who truly doesn’t have what it takes to be great.”

Sasse’s spokesman, James Wegmann, tweeted in response that Sasse is focusing on helping Republicans retain their Senate majority — it’s now 53-47 — and “he’s not going to waste a single minute on tweets.”

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Election 2020 Today: Trump, Biden face off; spoofed emails

Here’s what’s happening Thursday in Election 2020, 12 days until Election Day:

HOW TO VOTE: AP’s state-by-state interactive has details on how to vote in this election.

ON THE TRAIL: President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will be in Nashville, Tennessee. Vice President Mike Pence will be in Michigan and Indiana.


FACE TO FACE: Trump and Biden are set to square off in their final debate. It’s one of the last high-profile opportunities for the trailing president to change the trajectory of an increasingly contentious campaign. Some Trump advisers are urging him to trade his aggressive demeanor for a lower-key style, hoping Biden will get himself in trouble with verbal gaffes. In an effort to curtail interruptions, Trump and Biden will each have his microphone cut off while his rival delivers an opening two-minute answer to each of the six debate topics.

SPOOFED EMAILS: U.S. officials have accused Iran of being behind a flurry of emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states that appeared to be aimed at intimidating them into voting for the Republican president. The officials did not lay out specific evidence for how they came to pinpoint Iran, but the activities attributed to Tehran would mark a significant escalation for a country some cybersecurity experts regard as a second-rate player in online espionage.

BARRETT PUSH: Despite a Democratic boycott, Republicans are powering ahead to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by Election Day. The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote to recommend Trump’s nominee to the full Senate. Never before has the Senate confirmed a high court pick so close to a presidential election. The Senate is planning a rare weekend session to push the Indiana judge’s nomination forward. Final confirmation by the Senate is expected Monday.

PATH TO 270: Trump still has a path to the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win reelection. But it requires everything to break in his direction again. His most likely route would be to win two crucial states: Pennsylvania and Florida. If he can win there and hold onto North Carolina and Arizona — while playing defense in Georgia and Ohio — he will win.

ANXIOUS LEADERS: While the world will be closely watching the U.S. election, some countries will be watching more closely than others. A number of prominent world leaders have a personal stake in the outcome of the race, with their fortunes depending heavily on the success — or failure — of Trump. Perhaps none has so much riding on a Trump victory as Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader, who had a rocky relationship with President Barack Obama, has praised Trump as “the greatest friend” Israel has ever had in the White House.

ALABAMA VOTING: The Supreme Court has put on hold a lower court order that would have permitted curbside voting in Alabama in November. The justices’ vote was 5-3, with the court’s three liberals dissenting. It was unclear how many counties might have offered curbside voting, allowing people to vote from their car by handing their ballot to a poll worker.

QUOTABLE: “You should be confident that your vote counts. Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.” — FBI Director Chris Wray, insisting that the integrity of the 2020 U.S. election is still sound.


AP-NORC/USAFacts poll: Many in US distrust campaign info

In pitch for Biden, Obama urges voters to cast Trump out

Biden’s lessons learned: spending time, money in Midwest

Trump the dancer? His moves to ‘YMCA’ at rallies are a hit

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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