PHILADELPHIA/DALLAS (Reuters) – President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, headed to must-win election battlegrounds on Thursday, slowly resuming campaign activities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump hosted a campaign-style roundtable at a church in Dallas focused on aiding minority communities amid ongoing national protests over racism and police brutality. Biden unveiled an economic reopening proposal in Pennsylvania.
Ahead of the Nov. 3 election, recent opinion polls have shown Trump in a dead heat with Biden in Texas, which the Republican won by 9 percentage points four years ago.
“I know we’re doing very well here,” Trump said at the event.
Speaking to faith leaders, small-business owners and law enforcement officials, the president pledged to improve access to capital for minority-owned businesses.
He also outlined details of an upcoming executive order that aims to reform some policing practices but likely will fall far short of what activists are demanding in the wake of the death of George Floyd last month.
Earlier in the day, Biden held a campaign event in Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania, a state his campaign regards as crucial. Trump’s narrow victory there over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 helped propel him to the White House.
The former vice president rolled out a plan to reopen the economy, calling for expanded coronavirus testing and protective equipment for people who go back to work, paid sick leave, small-business grants, and hiring a workforce to test the spread of the disease.
Meeting with an eyeglass store owner and a union cleaning worker, Biden reiterated his criticism that Trump has failed “to deal with this crisis.”
The U.S. economy is showing only early signs of recovery from a sharp downturn. Stocks slumped on Thursday as investors fretted over a new wave of coronavirus infections.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Philadelphia and Steve Holland in Dallas; Writing by Michael Martina and James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Peter Cooney and Cynthia Osterman)