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Trump Tries To Win Over Key Demographic Groups In Narrowing Path To Victory


President Trump is closing out his campaign for reelection behind in fundraising and the polls both nationally and in key swing states. Today he rallies at The Villages, a huge senior living community in Florida. With little time left before Election Day and more than 50 million people having already voted, NPR's Tamara Keith looks at Trump's strategy.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: You don't need a top-secret campaign memo to see where Trump is looking to shore up support. Just listen to the president himself.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Do we have any seniors in the room? No, I'm not a senior.


TRUMP: OK. I'm not a senior. Yes, I am.

KEITH: At his now nonstop rallies, it often seems like Trump is just calling out demographic groups he's having trouble with.


TRUMP: Can I ask you to do me a favor? Suburban women, will you please like me?


TRUMP: Remember? Please. Please.

KEITH: It's not just a line in his rally speeches. If you want to know a campaign's priorities, look where they're spending their time and their money. Here's a telling example. On Facebook, the campaign has poured nearly $1 million into ads since late September using a page called Women for Trump. That's according to Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic ad firm. Benjamin Clark is a partner.

BENJAMIN CLARK: It seems they're making a last-minute plea for women votes. This is Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina - all kind of must-wins for the president.

KEITH: Trump is spending time and money in other states, too - Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Georgia. Some, he barely eked out in 2016. Some, he won easily but is having to work harder for this time. Meanwhile, the Biden campaign seems like they're on the air everywhere this week, running local ads in 19 states and spending millions during major sporting events. Trump is only advertising in 11 states and is getting outspent in most of them according to the tracking firm Ad Analytics. Bill Stepien, Trump's campaign manager, told reporters there's nothing to see here.


BILL STEPIEN: We very much like where we're at. We have more than sufficient air cover.

KEITH: What you hear there is a man making the best of a less-than-desirable situation. The latest campaign finance reports show Biden with more than three times as much cash on hand as Trump, which helps explain why the Republican National Committee is pitching in with ads in four swing states and Iowa aimed at senior citizens.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Protect your Medicare coverage. Vote for President Trump.

KEITH: Stepien says they have a secret weapon, though - more than 2.5 million campaign volunteers who connected with 10 million voters last week alone.


STEPIEN: We're actually running a real campaign - you know, a campaign with voter contact, a campaign with events. We like our plan better.

ADELE AMICO: We're still knocking on doors. We're still making phone calls. We're working the polls. It's pretty intense.

KEITH: Adele Amico is a super-volunteer for Trump in Florida, putting in about 40 hours a week at this point. I caught her on her cellphone driving between a poll-watching shift and going to set up for an Ivanka Trump event with her town's Republican club.

AMICO: Today, I just called a bunch of members, and I said, look; we need to put up 1,000 chairs. Can you come out and help? And they go, absolutely.

KEITH: Campaigns are always boasting about their volunteer armies, their get-out-the-vote efforts. And it's always impossible to tell if it's really as good as they claim. It's even harder to make comparisons now because of coronavirus. What is clear based on polling and where the candidates are trying to compete is Trump has a narrower path to victory, or, as the president said at a recent rally, he has to run the table under dramatically different circumstances than he did four years ago.

Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.