Barack Obama and Joe Biden held drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit, predominantly Black cities where strong turnout will be essential to swing the longtime Democratic state to Biden's column.
Calling Joe Biden his “brother,” Barack Obama has accused Donald Trump of failing to take the coronavirus pandemic and the presidency seriously as Democrats leaned on America's first Black president to energise Black voters in battleground Michigan on the final weekend of the 2020 campaign.
Obama, the 44th president, and Biden, his vice president who wants to be the 46th, held drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit, predominantly Black cities where strong turnout will be essential to swing the longtime Democratic state to Biden's column after Trump won it in 2016.
“Three days until the most important election of our lifetime — and that includes mine, which was pretty important,” said Obama, urging Democrats to get to the polls.
The memories of Trump's win in Michigan and the rest of the Upper Midwest are still searing in the minds of many Democrats during this closing stretch before Tuesday's election. That leaves Biden in the position of holding a consistent lead in the national polls and an advantage in most battlegrounds, including Michigan, yet still facing anxiety it could all slip away.
As of Saturday, nearly 92 million voters had already cast ballots nationwide, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Tens of millions more will vote by the time polls close on Tuesday night.
Trump, Biden hit key states on final weekend
Trump, challenger Biden and their top surrogates barrelled through crucial states in the industrial Midwest and coastal southeast on Saturday, pressing closing arguments in a frantic sprint days ahead of the US presidential election.
Using some of his most urgent language yet, Trump warned of "bedlam in our country" if no clear winner emerges quickly in Tuesday's election, saying, without evidence, that it could take weeks to sort out a result and that "very bad things" could happen in the interim.
Biden meantime told backers it was "time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home."
The election takes place in a deeply divided country, with feelings so raw that gun sales have surged in some areas. Businesses in some cities, including Washington, are protectively boarding windows, and police are preparing for the possibility of violence.
Trump was focusing on the key battleground state of Pennsylvania on Saturday, "the state where the story of American independence began," he said in the small city of Newtown, the first of four stops in that state amid a frenetic final sprint.
Biden made his first joint appearance of the campaign with his former boss Obama, probably the most popular Democrat in the country, in Flint, Michigan as they scramble to boost turnout in a state Trump carried by a razor-thin margin in 2016.
Vice President Mike Pence was meanwhile campaigning in narrowly divided North Carolina as Biden's running mate Kamala Harris was in Florida, another vitally important swing state.
'Life or death'
Pennsylvania has emerged as one of the top prizes this year.
In his motorcade en route to rural Bucks County, the president passed hundreds of supporters holding up a forest of pro-Trump signs. The crowd then booed trailing vehicles that were carrying reporters, a regular target of Trump's attacks.
Later in Butler, Pennsylvania, he arrived at the biggest rally of the day so far with well over 5,000 people crammed in, few in masks but many wearing red Trump hats.
In remarks at an event in Bucks County, Trump lashed out at Biden, saying he would shut down the state's fossil-fuel industry.
The president claimed credit for creating the "greatest economy in the history of this country, the history of the world," while "foreign nations are in freefall."
Despite recent signs of recovery from the virus-induced economic pain, however, millions remain jobless.
The campaign has been overshadowed by the surging pandemic, which had even sickened Trump and members of his staff.
More than 94,000 new infections were recorded in the US on Friday, another new high and total cases passed nine million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In stark contrast to Trump, who has belittled mask-wearing by Biden and others, the Democrat has scrupulously followed the guidance of public health experts.
After Biden and Obama appeared on Saturday before a socially distanced drive-in rally in Flint, they made an unannounced stop in suburban Bloomfield Hills before heading to Detroit, where they were joined by superstar singer Stevie Wonder.
Biden leads in the state by nearly seven points, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls. The state's 16 electoral votes could provide a sizeable leap towards the 270 needed to win the White House.
Trump, in eking out his 2016 victory, took advantage of low turnout rates among Michigan Blacks. As Biden campaigns with the nation's first Black president, he clearly hopes to change that.
Obama pulled few punches in Flint and Detroit, saying 140,000 American lives would have been saved if the president had taken an approach to the pandemic similar to Canada's.
"This is not a contest of just calling each other names," Obama said.
"This isn't a sporting event. This is life or death."
Biden said "we're done with the chaos, the tweets, the anger, the failure, the refusal to take any responsibility."
Biden's campaign announced he will address the nation on election night from his home base of Wilmington, after a vote that will undoubtedly leave millions bitterly disappointed, no matter who wins.
Chasing every vote
After a campaign largely muted by the pandemic, Biden has taken the offensive, pushing Trump onto the back foot in unexpected battlegrounds like Texas, a large, traditionally conservative bastion now seen as a toss-up.
On Friday, the state reported a staggering nine million residents had already voted, surpassing its 2016 total.
Harris visited Texas on Friday in a bid to turn the state Democratic for the first time since 1976.
But Trump is racing through an exhausting string of raucous rallies in the final days and is betting he can pull off another shock result, like in 2016.
Trump "has done more for this country than any president," said Jeff Close, who attended the Trump rally in Reading, Pennsylvania.
"He's kept his word, promises made, promises kept."