He accuses the Democrats of ‘destroying the American way of life’ in rallies in Michigan and Wisconsin

President Donald Trump leaned into fear tactics on Saturday as he accused the left of trying to “destroy the American way of life” in a late reelection pitch to voters in Michigan and Wisconsin — two Midwestern states that were instrumental to his 2016 victory but may now be slipping from his grasp.

Also read: Trump appeals to GOP base as polls slide

In back-to-back rallies, Mr. Trump accused the left of wanting to “erase American history” and “purge American values.” He claimed, with no basis, that Democratic rival Joe Biden would put communities at risk.

Battleground surveys

Mr. Trump offered the dark message as he faces headwinds not only in national polling, which shows Mr. Biden leading, but also in key battleground surveys. His comments come after his campaign, with far less cash than Mr. Biden’s, largely retreated from 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.

As he tries to energise his base and keep on-the-fence voters from turning against him, Mr. Trump sought to paint Democrats as “anti-American radicals” and said moderates had “a moral duty” to join the Republican Party.

“The Democrat Party you once knew doesn’t exist,” he said.

It was the same on issue after issue, as he claimed in hyperbolic terms that Mr. Biden’s election would spur “the single biggest depression in the history of our country” and “turn Michigan into a refugee camp.”

Addressing the coronavirus crisis, Mr. Trump warned that Biden would “shut down the country, delay the vaccine and prolong the pandemic.” Public health experts say the nation would be in far better shape had Trump’s administration taken more aggressive action early on.

And while he repeatedly predicted victory, Mr. Trump seemed to grapple throughout the day with the prospect that he could indeed lose in November.

In Michigan, he quipped that, in January, he “better damn well be President. In Wisconsin, he wondered how he would process a loss.

“Can you imagine if I lose? I will have lost to the worst candidate in the history of American politics,” he said. “What do I do?”

Mr. Trump has continued to hold rallies despite the threat of the coronavirus, which hospitalised him for several days earlier this month.

Wisconsin broke the record for new positive virus 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. But there was little evidence of concern among the thousands of supporters Trump drew in both states, where audience members stood closely together in the cold, mostly without masks.

Mr. Trump continued to call on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to roll back restrictions that remain in place to try to halt the spread of the virus, prompting the crowd to break into a “Lock her up!” chant. (The same chant also broke out after he mentioned his 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.)



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