Presidential campaigns separated by 22 miles in NC, yet worlds apart
Posted October 21, 2020 4:58 a.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2020 11:21 a.m. EDT
Gastonia, N.C. — With less than two weeks until Election Day, both presidential campaigns were in North Carolina on Wednesday fighting for every last vote.
President Donald Trump held a rally at Gastonia Municipal Airport at about the same time that U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, appeared at Truist Field in Charlotte, about 22 miles away.
Both events included an airing of grievances, with Harris complaining about Trump's actions in office and the president complaining about how everyone from Democrats to the media to technology giants mistreat him.
During her Charlotte appearance, as well as a stop Wednesday afternoon in Asheville, Harris focused on Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he put Americans at risk by downplaying the risk of the virus while at the same time trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and the health care coverage it provides for millions.
"We deserve more, and we are better than this," Harris told a small crowd in a parking lot at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Harris also called Trump a racist, saying he has repeatedly cozied up to white supremacists and refuses to denounce them.
"The issue before us of who will be the next president of the United States has everything to do with fixing the problems, but it also has to do with restoring in our country what we know to be our highest ideals – around unity, around bringing folks together, around rejecting these notions of fear and hate and division," she said. "[We need] to regain our standing in a way we can feel good about the future of our children and our nation."
Trump, meanwhile, focused on the differences between himself and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who he said would put "radical left" policies in place that would destroy the nation.
"If Biden wins, the flag-burning demonstrators on the street will be running your federal government," he said. "They'll decide which businesses can exist and which will be outlawed. They'll decide which rights you can keep and which are going to be revoked."
The president hit on topics that generated rousing cheers from the sign-waving crowd: protecting the Second Amendment, supporting law enforcement, outlawing sanctuary cities and rebuilding the U.S. economy.
"This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery or a Biden steep depression," he said. "It's between a Trump boom and a Biden lockdown."
Trump a couple of times called on North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, to reopen the state's economy, and he even called Cooper's opponent in the upcoming election, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, up on the stage to make the same pitch.
Forest called Cooper a "do-nothing governor," saying his only accomplishment during four years in office is wrecking the state's economy with his pandemic shutdown orders.
Hours earlier, Cooper said he would continue existing pandemic-related restrictions for at least three more weeks because of rising numbers of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Biden also attacked Trump's stance on the pandemic, issuing a statement saying that the president was more interested in discrediting scientists than in trying to get the virus under control and help working families.
A WRAL News poll released last week showed Biden with a five-point lead over Trump in North Carolina, 50-45 percent.
Harris had planned to visit Asheville and Charlotte last week to mark the first day of early voting in North Carolina, but she had to cancel the events after some members of her staff tested positive for coronavirus.
Trump's campaign has made several stops in North Carolina recently. Last week, he held a rally in Greenville, and Vice President Mike Pence followed with one in Selma. The president's older daughter, Ivanka Trump rallied in southern Wake County on Tuesday, and Eric Trump, the president's younger son, is set to speak to evangelicals at the RFA Church in Raleigh on Friday.