The text bombing began 24 hours before the rally. “Congratulations, my friend, you have won the title of patriot for Trump,” said one. “Congratulations, you won our brand new ‘Assign This Seat!’ T-Shirt (a reference to the appointment of a judge to the Supreme Court). Send $ 30 and get it now! Another urges. Then came an e-mail on the instructions to follow to attend the meeting. It mentions the fact that your temperature will be taken on arrival, but nowhere does it say that a mask will have to be worn …
Harrisburg, a city of 50,000 people and the capital of Pennsylvania, is in turmoil. Donald Trump is holding a meeting this Saturday evening in this key state. And it happens at the airport, in front of an aviation hangar. That’s his thing at Trump, meetings on the tarmac. There is room to gather crowds, it is in the open air, and above all it allows to do an air show when arriving in Air Force One before landing at the feet of his supporters. The ace ! In Harrisburg, there is a blanket of clouds and the crowd eagerly watching him cannot film his descent. Whatever, the big blue plane comes to park at the foot of the stands.
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Donald Trump is back on campaign, as if the virus had vanished. From Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, he multiplies electoral meetings in front of thousands of supporters in a hurry like sardines, without masks, and who chant with enthusiasm “Four years more, four years more”. In Harrisburg, they are more than 6,000 gathered around a podium. The only ones who wear a mask adorned with the MAGA (Make America Great again) slogan are the twenty or so fans who have been placed judiciously for the cameras behind the president.
Obviously, this kind of mass gathering goes against all the health instructions imposed by the state authorities. “It’s not only misguided, it’s dangerous,” said Tom Wolf, Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania.
Joe’s virtual campaign
The main target of the mockery of Donald Trump’s meetings is “sleeping Joe Biden”, who, according to him, spends most of his time in his basement at his home in Delaware. Difficult, in fact, to have two more different campaigns. Not only do the two candidates have opposing positions on health, Covid, immigration, but it is also day and night in the way they mobilize voters and spread their message.
Joe Biden, due to the pandemic, has adopted an almost virtual campaign. He doesn’t have big meetings and when he goes out, it’s in small groups. He prefers round tables and discussions via Zoom. While Donald Trump’s teams boast of knocking on a million doors a week to convince voters, Biden’s teams are putting the package on TV ads, and seeking to mobilize voters through phone calls, texting… “You may have heard our opponent spend a lot of time talking about the millions of doors they knocked on week after week, but these numbers mean nothing in terms of the impact on voters,” says Jennifer O ‘ Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager. “Our indicator of success, the numbers we look at and use, are conversations. Last month, Democratic activists engaged in 2.6 million conversations with potential voters in major states. All this by phone or text.
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Joe Biden hopes that this cautious and respectful approach to medical instructions will seduce voters by positioning himself at the opposite of Donald Trump, who does not care about the risks of the pandemic. But this strategy is not unanimous. As the gap in the polls narrows, some Democratic officials worry. “I have the impression that it is an asymmetrical war”, laments in the New York Times Matt Munsey, the party’s branch boss in Northampton County, eastern Pennsylvania, adding that virtual events “don’t necessarily reach people.”
Others complain that Joe Biden has been slow to recruit COOs in every state and that he’s not coming to Wisconsin or Arizona enough. Since August 11, according to an analysis by the Associated Press agency, there have been twenty-two days during which Joe Biden has not made public appearances, except to go to mass or to make virtual fundraisers. . While, in recent months, Donald Trump has made 24 trips to 17 states …
“You need a lot of energy to do this job well”
As the election approaches, Democratic activists are taking matters into their own hands. In the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, Erin Shifflett, an English teacher, herself organized a sign distribution on behalf of Biden. The candidate’s team retorts that they have recruited more than 2,500 people and made an “investment” of $ 100 million to organize the campaign on the ground. She plans in the days to come to deploy activists to distribute leaflets at home. And Joe Biden announced a train trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Obviously, this is blessed bread for Donald Trump, because it reinforces the caricature of Biden – crumbling and tired grandpa – that he keeps hammering. He is a type “who has little energy”, repeats the president in his meetings, even if they are only three years apart. “You need a lot of energy to do this job well. “
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But Joe Biden’s non-traditional approach appeals to some voters. “I find it rather positive that it is confined to a virtual campaign. It shows that he is a responsible leader, who takes the pandemic seriously, ”said Lynn, a mother shopping in a market in Wilkes-Barre, a small town in Pennsylvania. “He respects the instructions of doctors because he believes in science and wants to prevent his fellow citizens from taking risks,” adds Marvin Kaplan, an insurance employee who makes phone calls on weekends for the campaign.
There is certainly one area in which Joe Biden croupiers his rival is fundraising. The Democrat has done dozens of Zoom sessions with donors and raised a record $ 365 million in August. That is 150 million more than Donald Trump.