Trump and Biden go on the offensive in states they are trying to flip

Each is seeking to make inroads in states that could help secure a path to victory.

Donald Trump accepts a blessing as he attends the International Church of Las Vegas (Alex Brandon/AP)

By Brian Slodysko, Jill Colvin and Will Weissert, Associated Press

US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden went on the offensive on Sunday, each campaigning in states they are trying to flip during the November 3 election.

Mr Trump began his day in Nevada, making a rare visit to church before an evening rally in Carson City. Once considered a battleground, Nevada has not swung for a Republican presidential contender since 2004.

While seated in the front row at the non-denominational International Church of Las Vegas, Mr Trump received blessings from the church’s pastors, with Denise Goulet telling attendees that God told her Mr Trump was the apple of his eye. “He is protecting you like he is protecting the ancient foundations of our nation,” she said.

The president, as he often does, warned that a Biden election would lead to further lockdowns and at one point appeared to mock Biden for saying he would listen to scientists.

“He’ll listen to the scientists. If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression,” Trump said.

Mr Biden, a practising Catholic, attended Mass in Delaware before flying to North Carolina, which a Democratic presidential candidate has not won since Barack Obama in 2008.

Each is seeking to make inroads in states that could help secure a path to victory, but the dynamics of the race are remarkably stable. Mr Biden enjoys a significant advantage in national polls, while carrying a smaller edge in battleground surveys.

But he also has another considerable advantage over Mr Trump: money. Over the past four months, his campaign has raised over one billion US dollars, and that has enabled him to eclipse Mr Trump’s once-massive cash advantage.

That edge is apparent in advertising, where Mr Biden and his Democratic allies are on pace to outspend Mr Trump and the Republicans by two-fold in the closing days of the race, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.

Joe Biden and his wife Jill arrive for mass at St Joseph on the Brandywine church in Delaware (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

In Nevada, Democrats are set to outspend Mr Trump in the closing days by more than three-to-one. But it is also a state Mr Trump came close to winning in 2016.

Mr Biden went to St Joseph on the Brandywine, as he does nearly every week. He and his wife, Jill, entered wearing dark-coloured face masks. She carried a bunch of flowers that included pink roses.

The church is a few minutes’ drive from Mr Biden’s home. Mr Biden’s son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, is buried in the cemetery on its grounds. Joe and Jill Biden visited the grave after the service.

If elected, Mr Biden would be only the second Roman Catholic president in US history and the first since John F Kennedy. Mr Biden speaks frequently about his faith and its importance in his life.

Joe Biden arrives to board his campaign plane in Delaware (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Mr Trump attends church far less often, but has drawn strong support from white Evangelical leaders and frequently hosts groups of pastors at the White House.

Mr Trump often goes to the Church of Bethesda-By-The Sea near Mar-a-Lago in Florida for major holidays, including Easter, and attended a Christmas Eve service last year at Family Church in West Palm Beach before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

As the virus forced most churches to pause in-person services this spring, Mr Trump announced plans to tune into live-streamed worship led by some leading evangelical supporters, including Texas-based megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress’s Easter service and a March service by Georgia-based pastor Jentezen Franklin.

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