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Suzanne Lynch’s US Election Diary: With 15 days to go, Trump faces an uphill battle for victory

US president holds rallies in defiance of state and federal coronavirus guidelines

With just 15 days until the US presidential election, polls suggest that Donald Trump has an uphill battle to secure a second term in the White House. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has Biden 9 points ahead nationally. His lead is tighter in swing states that determine the actual outcome of the election, but two weeks out from election day, Republicans are now seriously considering the possibility of defeat.

Not that one would think it from Trump's messaging at a series of campaign events over the weekend. At a campaign event in Michigan, a state he won by just 10,000 votes in 2016, the president predicted a "red wave like you've never seen before".

It was one of several rallies the president held over the weekend, in defiance of state and federal coronavirus guidelines. Trump arrived in southern Wisconsin on Saturday evening as coronavirus infection rates are rising. He opened his speech by urging the state's Democratic governor to "open the state up", despite the spiking Covid-19 numbers.

During his weekend rallies he touched on familiar talking points: Joe Biden is a "criminal", he said, "Democrats and the media are one and the same", while he again claimed to have done more for African-Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln.


Nonetheless there was a hint of wistful defeatism at times from the president. At a rally in Georgia on Friday night, he mused. "Could you imagine if I lose? I'm not going to feel so good. Maybe I'll have to leave the country, I don't know …."

He also referenced his personal finances, a sign that he may be concerned about his own future if he loses in November, given the ongoing investigation into his financial and tax affairs by the Southern District of New York. He claimed that the presidency has cost him “two, three, maybe more billion dollars”, telling supporters that he would have had “hotels being built in every city in every country in the world” if he wasn’t president.

Biden’s campaign too sounded a cautious note over the weekend, with campaign manager Jennifer O’Malley Dillon warning supporters in an email that victory on election day was not guaranteed. “This race is going to be incredibly close in the battleground states,” she said. “We’re not taking a single vote for granted.”

In a sign that Ireland will have an ally in the White House if Joe Biden wins on November 3rd, the Biden campaign issued a statement on the former vice-president's stance on Ireland and Irish-America. Most significantly in light of the ongoing Brexit standoff between Brussels and London, the campaign reiterated that there will be "no US-UK trade deal if the implementation of Brexit imperils the Good Friday [Belfast] Agreement."

The Biden camp also underlined the presidential candidate's commitment to immigration reform, promising to prioritise legislation to create a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States, which includes thousands of Irish.

On the campaign trail

Following a rally in Nevada yesterday, Trump is due to campaign in Arizona today (My piece last week from Arizona sets out what's at stake in this traditionally-Republican state that could opt for Joe Biden on November 3rd)

Donald Trump jnr is holding events in Pennsylvania and North Carolina as the Trump children continue to campaign in force for their father.

Joe Biden will campaign in Pennsylvania, while Kamala Harris will return to the campaign trail on Monday, after she cancelled in-person events after two aides tested positive for coronavirus. She is due to hold events in Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida, while her husband will visit Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in the southern part of the state.

Quote of the day

"It's incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me … the president is at it again and inspiring and incentivising and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism. It is wrong. It's got to end." Michigan's governor Gretchen Whitmer, who was the subject of a foiled kidnapping plot, hits out at Donald Trump after chants of "Lock her up! Lock her up!" erupted at his campaign rally in Michigan on Saturday.

Recommended reads

Confused about how the electoral college system works? My explainer on the key swing states to watch as election day approaches is here.

I reported from the key swing-state of Florida for Saturday's Irish Times.

The New York Times devoted its entire Sunday Review section to essays on the failures of Donald Trump's presidency. Under the title "End Our National Crisis," its editorial on why the president must be removed is damning.

Georgia is one of several Republican-leaning states that Democrats are hoping to win in November's presidential election. But it also has two senate races to watch as this Bloomberg story explains. Republican incumbent David Purdue was widely criticised at the weekend for mispronouncing Kamala Harris' name, despite serving with her since 2017 in the Senate.