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With Clock Ticking, Trump And Biden Spend More Time On The Road

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We have just one week before Election Day. And with the clock counting down, both President Trump and Joe Biden are on the road. The president will be in three states today. Joe Biden is going to Georgia, making two stops in that red state now considered up for grabs. In these last few days, both candidates are attacking each other, especially over the pandemic. Here's President Trump in Martinsburg, Pa., yesterday.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The Biden lockdown would crush America, and my plan will crush the virus. And we're going to have a boom like you've never seen before.

(CHEERING)

MARTIN: And here's Joe Biden speaking in Chester, Pa.

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JOE BIDEN: The bottom line is Donald Trump is the worst possible president, the worst possible person, to try to lead us through this pandemic.

MARTIN: National political correspondent Mara Liasson is with us. Good morning, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: There's so little time left. How are the candidates using this time?

LIASSON: Donald Trump is using the time to go to a lot of rallies and a lot of places. His campaign says it's a sign of his stamp and energy, something they say Biden doesn't have because he's been keeping a lower key schedule. In 2016, those big Trump rallies were a sign of his momentum. This time, he's trying to find and excite more of his base voters and turn them out. Biden, on - he is going two swing states that got him to the White House last time. Today, he's going to be in Michigan and Wisconsin. Those are states where he's been trailing Biden pretty consistently. He's also going to Nebraska - that shows you how he's playing defense. Nebraska is a very red state.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is playing offense. He's going to Atlanta, Ga. Georgia is a red state. Last time a Democrat won there was 1992. But the polls show that Biden is even or slightly ahead of Trump there. And there are two Senate races in Georgia, which is very important. If Biden were to win, he wants Democrats to have the Senate majority.

MARTIN: So we heard in those clips, in the introduction, the two of them going at it over a coronavirus response. But more broadly, what are their closing arguments?

LIASSON: Right. Well, the closing arguments are a lot about COVID - for Trump, COVID's over; for Biden, COVID's still here. As a matter of fact, it is surging in several important swing states like Wisconsin. And he's been saying that Donald Trump is the worst president to deal with the virus. But Trump has settled on an outsider message even though he's the incumbent. He says he's the outsider, and Biden's the establishment figure who's been around for 47 years and hasn't solved any problems. And Biden is presenting himself as the antidote to Trump's divisiveness and chaos.

MARTIN: Remind us where the race stands now actually.

LIASSON: The race stands where it's been for a long time. Biden's lead is still very stable. It's smaller in the swing states. Republicans are hoping that their voters will now start turning out in droves between now and November 3 to offset the advantage the Democrats are believed to have from mail-in votes and early voting. Democrats are hoping they can continue the strong turnout of minority voters and women. And they're especially hopeful about young voters who are turning out in multiples of the rate they turned out in 2016.

MARTIN: You know, it's notable, to me anyway, that you haven't mentioned Amy Coney Barrett. She was sworn in as the newest justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a big deal for President Trump. I mean, this is his third Supreme Court nominee to get confirmed. But he's not really talking about it, is he?

LIASSON: He's not really talking about it, which is puzzling. This is a huge triumph for him to cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court. This is something that conservative Republicans have been working towards for decades. But he doesn't talk about it very much. He did swear her in at the White House last night.

In the near term, Amy Coney Barrett is going to be on the court in time to hear some voting rights cases that could determine whether hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots are counted in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina, which is one of the reasons Republicans were in such a hurry to confirm her and swear her in.

MARTIN: Before I let you go, just briefly, Mara, what about the race for the Senate? I mean, getting Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation through was a big deal to Republicans in the Senate. But how precarious does that majority look?

LIASSON: The majority looks pretty precarious. Democrats will definitely pick up some Senate seats. The question is, will they pick enough - pick up enough to get the majority back, and how big a majority could they get? At least one person is pretty pessimistic about Republicans keeping the Senate, and that's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He said on the Senate floor on Sunday, a lot of what we have done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election. It won't be able to do much about this for a long time to come - meaning the court is more like forever; majorities in the Senate are fleeting. So he sounded pretty downbeat about his party's chances to keep control of the Senate.

MARTIN: NPR's Mara Liasson, thank you.

LIASSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.