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As Voting Days Dwindle, Presidential Campaigns Are In High Gear

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The presidential campaign is in high gear in the final week before voting concludes. And both campaigns are trying to expand the map. President Trump is traveling to many states. Just yesterday, he was in Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I want to start off by saying a very big hello, Wisconsin. It's great to be with you.

GREENE: Joe Biden's campaign is widening the number of states it hopes to influence. He was in Georgia yesterday, a state that hasn't gone Democratic in decades.

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JOE BIDEN: We win Georgia, we win everything.

GREENE: NPR's Scott Detrow was with Biden traveling to Georgia yesterday. He joins us this morning from Wilmington, Del.

Hi, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Good morning. This time next week, we'll be sorting through what we know of results.

GREENE: Amazing. We're getting close. We'll be sorting through a lot.

DETROW: Yes.

GREENE: So in these final days, do the itineraries tell us anything about the race?

DETROW: They tell us a lot. They show who's on offense, who's on defense. President Trump was in Nebraska yesterday fighting for the one electoral vote that the Omaha area congressional district awards. Polls show Biden up there, even as Trump is expected to win the state as a whole. The president is making repeated trips to the states that put him in the White House - Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. He needs to hold them to win a second term. And beyond that, he's just going everywhere - Arizona today, trying to put a dent in the steady national lead that Biden has built.

And at the same time, Biden went to Georgia yesterday. That's a place Democrats have not won since 1992, but they're getting closer and closer in recent elections. And early voting trends indicate a lot of younger first-time voters are showing up, and Democrats feel like that could be the key to winning. Then later this week, Biden goes to Iowa. His running mate, Kamala Harris, is going to Texas. And all of this underscores the different routes to 270 electoral votes that Biden has right now even though his campaign is certainly making sure to keep coming back to Pennsylvania and those other key states. They don't want to repeat 2016 and neglect those places.

GREENE: Right. Well, that's where the candidates are. What are they saying? What's their message in these final days?

DETROW: Biden's messaging has really been focused on leadership, of using the perch of the White House to be more inclusive and unifying. He went to Warm Springs, Ga., yesterday. That's a place that Franklin Roosevelt spent so much time trying to recover from polio and then later on in life. Biden gave a speech there drawing on Roosevelt and in amplifying this message of resilience and hope. He also continued to criticize President Trump's lack of leadership confronting the pandemic. Here he was later in the day in Atlanta.

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BIDEN: More than 225,000 dead Americans because of COVID-19 - 7,800 right here in Georgia. Millions of people are out of work, on the edge. They can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, and Donald Trump has given up.

DETROW: And by contrast, here's President Trump in Omaha last night.

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TRUMP: We will get rid of this whole thing. We will get rid of this virus. It'll be very - you watch. It's going to happen very quickly. And we're going to have our country back, and the whole world is going to be coming back.

DETROW: President Trump, of course, was hospitalized then recovered. And since then, he's doubled down on this message that the virus is not so bad. But that's not stacking up against the reality of record numbers of cases in recent days, especially in places like the Midwest, where President Trump was and hospitalizations are up as well.

GREENE: Scott, one issue that's come up a lot recently, especially in Pennsylvania, is fracking, I know it's an issue you actually covered in a former life (laughter).

DETROW: Mmm hmm.

GREENE: Can you talk us through this issue and what it's about?

DETROW: Yeah. President Trump has really been seizing on comments that Biden made in the last debate that he wants to phase out fossil fuels like oil and gas. Biden does want to limit future permits for fracking on federal land but not ban it as a whole. The president thinks this is something that can really hurt Biden in Pennsylvania. I think there's a lot of reasons why it might not be the powerful argument that the president thinks he is. Just to tick through them quickly, the industry's slowed down a lot in recent years from its peak in Pennsylvania. There's a lot of wind and solar activity and booming business there. And maybe most importantly, it's always been controversial in Pennsylvania because of environmental concerns. And that's especially the case in the eastern part of the state, where there's a lot of votes.

GREENE: Thank you so much. NPR's Scott Detrow. We appreciate it.

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