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Mon. 12:30 p.m.: Trump, Biden go on offense in states they’re trying to flip

President Donald Trump closes his eyes as he accepts blessings as he attends church at International Church of Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nev. Counselor to the President Hope Hicks is at left. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — President Donald Trump today is seeking to buck up his campaign staffers two weeks from Election Day, dismissing the cautionary coronavirus advice of scientific experts as well as polling showing him trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden across key battleground states.

Speaking to campaign aides on a conference call, Trump insisted he believes he’s going to win, volunteering he didn’t have that sense of confidence two weeks ago when he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

Trump dialed in to his staffers today from Las Vegas, where he was on the third day of a campaign swing to the West. He was to hold rallies in Prescott and Tucson in Arizona before returning to the White House.

On Sunday night in Carson City, Nevada, Trump addressed thousands of supporters who sat elbow to elbow, cheering him and booing Biden and the press. The vast majority wore no masks to guard against the coronavirus, though cases in the state are on the rise, with more than 1,000 new infections reported Saturday. The Republican president, as he often does, warned that a Biden election would lead to further lockdowns and 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.

In addition to public polling that indicates Biden has an edge, the former vice president enjoys another considerable advantage over Trump: money.

Trump raked in $12 million during a fundraiser Sunday afternoon at the Newport Beach home of top GOP donor and tech mogul Palmer Luckey, which also featured a performance by the Beach Boys.

But over the past four months, Biden has raised over $1 billion, a massive amount of money that has eclipsed Trump’s once-overwhelming cash advantage.

That’s become apparent in advertising, where Biden and his Democratic allies are on pace to spend twice as much as Trump and the Republicans in the closing days of the race, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.

Though Trump has pulled back from advertising in Midwestern states that secured his 2016 win, he’s invested heavily elsewhere, including North Carolina, where he is on pace to slightly outspend Biden in the days ahead.

In Nevada, which Trump came close to winning in 2016, Democrats are set to outspend Trump in the closing days by a more than 3-to-1 ratio.

Trump argued that his rallies could help make up the difference in states that remain close.

“Where we have states that are sort of tipping could go either way,” he said. “I have an ability to go to those states and rally. Biden has no ability, I go to a rally we have 25,000 people. He goes to a rally and he has four people.”

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