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Presidential Campaigns Visit Key States As November's Election Nears

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump is back on the campaign trail. He held a rally in Sanford, Fla., last night, just a week after he was released from the hospital for COVID-19.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This is the most important election in the history of our country.

MARTIN: Former Vice President Joe Biden was on the campaign trail in Ohio yesterday, where he made two stops and had a similar message about urgency.

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JOE BIDEN: It's go time. This is the most important election of our lifetimes, not because I'm running because what's at stake.

MARTIN: Maybe the message was sort of the same, but the events themselves could not have been more different. White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez joins us now. Good morning, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: All right. Let's start with the president. This was his first campaign trip since his COVID diagnosis. What was the tone?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, you know, it really gave the impression that nothing had changed. It was really big. Hundreds of people at an airport outside - they were all tightly packed together. Some were wearing masks; most were not. And they cheered and yelled the whole time. And the president, you know, he really showed no signs that his illness had slowed him down. It was a standard off-the-cuff speech. He roared through an hour of it. Here's just a little taste.

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TRUMP: You know, I feel so powerful. I'll walk into that audience.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: I'll walk in there. I'll kiss everyone in that audience.

ORDOÑEZ: Just before the rally, the White House physician, Sean Conley, said the president had tested negative for the virus on consecutive days. Conley said that that shows he's not infectious when it's combined with other data that they've collected from various tests.

MARTIN: OK. So what about Joe Biden? You've been traveling with him. You're in Wilmington, Del., this morning. But you went with the former vice president to Ohio. What was notable to you about that?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, he went to Toledo and Cincinnati. In both places, Biden gave his stump speech, casting himself as representing the working class and saying Trump was looking out for the wealthy, especially during the pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: They see the people at the top doing better and better, even in the midst of this god-awful recession.

ORDOÑEZ: Biden's event last night in Cincinnati was in this beautiful old train terminal. But it was really not a rally. It was more of a backdrop for his speech. There were maybe 50 people in the cavernous room. In Toledo, it was outdoors in a parking lot with about 30 socially distance cars. The Biden campaign has really been taking a cautious approach to avoid spreading the virus. The contrast, as you mentioned, between the two campaigns in terms of size and style was really striking. But, you know, the fact that Biden is even spending time in Ohio is a sign that the Democrats think they have a shot at winning back the state. Trump won Ohio easily in 2016, but right now polls show it could be a toss-up.

MARTIN: And the race goes on. They're both traveling again today, right? Where are they going?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, they're both going to a swing state. Trump is going to Johnstown, Pa. Biden is heading to Florida to talk about senior issues. You know, it's a big, important issue, and it's an opening for Biden because Trump has really been hurting from the pandemic. Both of them are going to be on the road a lot right now. It's crunch time. There are only 21 days left, so the pressure is on.

MARTIN: White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez.

Franco, thank you.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.