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Sunday January 24th, 2021 9:05PM

The Latest: Pence campaigns in S. Carolina to boost Graham

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the presidential campaign (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence made a campaign stop in South Carolina with a week until Election Day, in part to help boost Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Alongside Graham, Pence spoke to hundreds of supporters packed into an airplane hangar Tuesday in Greenville, in the state’s conservative northwestern corner.

Graham is facing a tight reelection battle against Democrat Jaime Harrison in a reliably conservative state President Donald Trump is expected to win easily on Nov. 3.

Pence commended Graham's leadership over Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation. He says Barrett's confirmation would not have been possible if it weren’t for Graham, whom he called “a stalwart, courageous and principled leader.”

Pence sandwiched the South Carolina stop between trips to battleground North Carolina, where both he and Trump have been campaigning heavily in the election’s closing weeks. On Tuesday, Pence decried what he called Biden’s high tax proposals and promoted the Trump administration’s “law and order” agenda, also specifically speaking of relatives of a local law officer killed recently in the line of duty.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:

One week until Election Day, Joe Biden is going on offense in Georgia and pushing into other territory where President Donald Trump was once expected to easily repeat his wins from four years ago. President Donald Trump is campaigning in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, states he hopes to hold on Nov. 3.

Read more:

— Biden goes on offense in Georgia while Trump targets Midwest

— Push is on in Wisconsin to return 320K outstanding ballots

— Barrett sworn in at court as issues important to Trump await

— Voters in some states unable to cast early ballots in person

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

5:05 p.m.

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg is pouring $15 million more of his personal wealth into advertising for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Ohio and Texas.

The former New York City mayor already committed to spending $100 million to help Biden win the battleground state of Florida. But his political organization conducted new polling over the weekend, and Bloomberg authorized spending more in the two states after seeing the results Monday.

Both Texas and Ohio were previously seen as solidly supporting President Donald Trump, and he won both states in 2016. But that’s shifted in the closing weeks of the race, with public opinion polls showing a tight contest.

The new ads will be paid for by Independence USA PAC, Bloomberg’s super political action committee.

Ads airing in Ohio will target Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Biden’s “Build Back Better” call for new investment. In Texas, ads will run in both English and Spanish and focus on Trump’s management of the virus.

The ads will begin airing Wednesday and run through Nov. 3.

___

4:10 p.m.

Melania Trump is slamming Joe Biden, Democrats and the media as she campaigns for her husband in Pennsylvania.

In her first solo appearance of the presidential campaign, Mrs. Trump says Democrats focused on a “sham impeachment” instead of the coronavirus pandemic. She denounced what she called Biden’s “socialist agenda” and criticized media coverage of “idle gossip and palace intrigue.”

Melania Trump also defended President Donald Trump’s record on COVID-19 even as he continues to downplay the threat of a virus that has killed more than 226,000 Americans.

She declared, “We will triumph over this virus.” Her husband’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said over the weekend that the U.S. is not going to be able to contain the virus.

The first lady’s event 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Philadelphia drew a couple hundred supporters who piled into a converted barn typically used for wedding receptions. The overwhelming majority wore masks, but there was little social distancing.

Mrs. Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus earlier this month along with her husband, and she decided against attending a rally with the president last week because she was still feeling lingering symptoms.

___

3:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump has started a busy day of campaigning with a cold, rain-soaked rally in Lansing, Michigan.

Most polls show Trump trailing Democrat Joe Biden in a state that Trump won narrowly in his 2016 victory. The president told the thousands that gathered on Tuesday that “seven days from now we’re going to win the great state of Michigan.”

Some of Trump’s supporters waited four hours in the wet, near-freezing temperatures to see him.

Trump says their enthusiasm underscores to him that he’s got momentum going into the final days before the election.

Trump also plans to campaign Tuesday in Wisconsin and Nebraska.

___

2:55 p.m.

Joe Biden is telling Americans to “clear the decks for action” on everything from the coronavirus pandemic to the economy if he is elected president.

In remarks at Warm Springs, Georgia, Biden went after President Donald Trump and his administration for saying they can’t contain the virus, calling it a “capitulation” and “a waving of a white flag” on the virus. Biden said it revealed “the shocking truth of this White House: that they’ve never really tried” to deal with the pandemic. He says Trump “turned a crisis into a tragedy.”

Biden warned that “with winter at hand, it’s getting worse,” noting the surging number of cases across the U.S.

In contrast with Trump, Biden pledged that he would act “on the first day of my presidency to get COVID under control.” Biden also said he’d pass an economic plan that would “finally reward work,” a health care plan and a climate plan, and he pledged to address systemic racism.

The remarks come as Biden made a late play for Georgia, a traditionally red state where Democrats see an opening because of Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic. He’s also slated to speak at a drive-in rally in Atlanta on Tuesday evening.

___

2:15 p.m.

Joe Biden is offering a hopeful call for healing in the face of the “lasting wound” the coronavirus pandemic has left on the country.

In Warm Springs, Georgia, the Democratic presidential nominee spoke Tuesday of the need for the nation to come together to address its challenges and overcome division. Biden asked if the heart of the nation “turned to stone,” and replied: “I don’t think so. I refuse to believe it.”

With just a week left until Election Day, Biden is making his closing pitch to the nation with a message focused on unity and a call to rise above the division he says President Donald Trump has sown while in office. It’s a message with which Biden launched his campaign in May 2019, and it’s one he’s returned to again and again as he’s sought to draw a contrast with Trump.

Previously, Biden’s last major speech on the theme of unity was held at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in early October. His setting Tuesday was intentional as well: Warm Springs was home to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s private retreat and where he came to recover from polio. Biden made reference to the history made there under Roosevelt, saying the site was “a reminder that, though broken, each of us can be healed” and the country “can overcome this devastating virus” and “heal a suffering world.”

___

1:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have departed the White House for a long day of campaigning in separate battleground states.

The first lady is headed to Pennsylvania for her first solo campaign event this year. Meanwhile, the president will be in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Trump is expected to easily win Nebraska, but it’s possible that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden could pick up one electoral vote by winning the Omaha-based congressional district.

Nebraska and Maine each award some of their Electoral College votes by congressional district, unlike all other states that give them with a winner-take-all system.

Trump also notes that the Omaha visit could help him make his case to some voters in the battleground state of Iowa.

In a close race, just one electoral vote could make the difference.

___

12:55 p.m.

Joe Biden is making a late push to flip Georgia, a state Democrats haven’t won at the presidential level in nearly three decades.

Biden is visiting Warm Springs, Georgia, to deliver a speech that aides have said will drive his closing argument, focused on the need for the nation to unify to confront its major challenges. The town was the site of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s private retreat.

Later Tuesday, he’s speaking at a drive-in rally in Atlanta.

Georgia hasn’t voted for a Democrat in a presidential race since 1992. But the Biden campaign is looking to capitalize on the favorable political environment there as the coronavirus pandemic drags down President Donald Trump in typically red-leaning states. Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, campaigned in the state last Friday.

While the Biden campaign insists the candidate is still focused on winning back the “Blue Wall” states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, they’ve also made moves in recent weeks to expand the map to traditionally Republican states.

Biden will also visit Iowa this week, another state once seen as a reach for Democrats that has become more competitive.

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