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Trump, Biden make final pitch ahead of counting

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US President Donald Trump says he believes his large rally crowds during his fast-paced weeks of campaigning are the “ultimate poll” and translate into a lot of votes for his re-election.

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Trump told Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends program on Tuesday he will spend election day making phone calls to people who have been loyal to him and will go to his campaign headquarters in suburban Virginia to thank the staff.

Trump said he would declare himself the winner of the election “only when there’s victory”.

There has been concern that Trump will declare victory early – before vote counts are definitive.

But the Republican president told Fox there’s no reason to “play games”.

He said he thinks he has a “very solid chance at winning”.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden started election day with a visit to church and the grave of his late son Beau.

Biden and his wife, Jill, made an early morning stop at St Joseph’s on the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware, the church he typically visits on Sunday when home.

Biden had granddaughters Finnegan and Natalie in tow on Tuesday.

After a brief church visit, the four walked to Beau Biden’s grave in the church cemetery.

Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 and Biden often speaks on the campaign trail of his courage while deployed to Iraq as a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.

Biden’s late wife, Neilia, and infant daughter, Naomi, died in a car crash in 1972, shortly after Biden was elected senator.

They are also buried in the cemetery.

Biden is spending the rest of his day in Pennsylvania as he makes a final push to get out the vote.

US First lady Melania Trump has cast her vote, stopping in at a voting centre in Palm Beach, Florida, close to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Asked why she didn’t vote with the Republican president last week, the first lady told reporters on Tuesday: “It’s election day so I wanted to come here to vote today for the election.”

She was the only person not wearing a mask to guard against the coronavirus when she entered the centre to vote.

Australian political strategist working in the United States, Walter Koch, said he expected Biden to win by picking up key voters who elected Barack Obama twice but backed Donald Trump in 2016.

Koch has previously worked on Labor campaigns in Victoria and federally, and is now working as campaign coordinator for Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey.

“To their credit, the Biden campaign has maintained a strong message that primarily focuses on key economic issues as well as of course turning the race into a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic,” Koch told AAP.

“Joe Biden himself has not been lured by the progressive wing of the party into taking positions that would hurt him in the states they need to win.

“They have done a terrific job maintaining their focus despite a news cycle that could have led to distractions.

“This has enabled the campaign to expand its base and pick off key voters who voted for President Obama twice but backed Trump in 2016.”

He said the Trump campaign had failed to find a consistent line of attack against Biden.

“They’ve struggled to come to terms with the fact that there is not the same level of toxicity in the electorate for Biden as there was for Hillary (Clinton).”

As well, Trump had failed to prosecute the same message of “economic nationalism and cultural populism” as he did in 2016 to win over America’s rust belt states.

“I think Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will win tomorrow night with roughly 288 electoral college votes,” Koch predicted late yesterday.

The winning candidate needs at least 270 electoral college votes.

 – AAP

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