US election: Trump, Biden face off in Florida over coronavirus | News | DW | 30.10.2020
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US election: Trump, Biden face off in Florida over coronavirus

Donald Trump and Joe Biden launched scathing attacks at each other over the coronavirus as they held rallies in the battleground state of Florida. The events took place as the US reported record daily infections.

US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden squared off in the crucial state of Florida on Thursday with radically different approaches to the resurging coronavirus pandemic as infections in the country reached a record high.  

Trump spoke of an early end to the health emergency that continues to spread in the US and of rampaging "socialists" in control if he lost his reelection bid. Calling the Trump rally a "super-spreader event," Biden criticized the president as irresponsible and vowed to heal America's "soul." 

Thousands of supporters, many without masks, flocked to Trump's outdoor event in Tampa. 

Downplaying the virus that has killed over 228,000 people in the United States, Trump told people that if they got infected with the virus they would "get better," just as he did. He also said he would not lockdown the country again.

"We're never going to lock down again.... We're open for business," Trump said. 

A couple of hours later, Biden held a "drive-in" rally in the city. People remained in or near their cars and wore masks, although social distancing was compromised at times. 

Countering Trump's main accusation, Biden said he would bring responsible leadership to the US after months of the White House downplaying the virus' danger. 

"I'm not going to shut down the economy, I'm not going to shut down the country. I'm going to shut down the virus," Biden said. 

"He's spreading more than just coronavirus; he's spreading division and discord, the former vice president added. "We need a president who's going to bring us together, not pull us apart. The heart and soul of this country is at stake."

Watch video 05:27

Countdown to the US election

Record infections in US

The war of words took place as the US recorded over 91,000 new cases of coronavirus, its highest single-day rise.

Rather than address the pandemic that has infected more people in the US than any other country, Trump also praised new gross domestic product figures released Thursday that showed a growth in the US economy at an annualized pace of 33% in the latest quarter due to a massive federal relief program.

"So glad this great GDP number came out before November 3rd," Trump wrote in a tweet. 

But there is doubt over whether economic data so close to Election Day can impact the outcome.  

More than 80 million Americans have already cast ballots ahead of the November 3 elections, setting course for the highest participation rate in nearly a century, according to statistics from the US Elections Project at the University of Florida. 

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday showed Trump had almost moved into a tie with Biden in Florida, with 47% saying they would vote for the president and 49% supporting Biden.

dvv/sms (AFP, Reuters, AP)