One day after their dueling town halls.. the two candidates racing for the White House packed their schedules in critical swing states.
U.S. President Donald Trump redoubled his efforts to win the critical battleground state of Florida, addressing a group of seniors before staging another rally in Florida and then one in Georgia later in the day …
"I will protect you, I will defend you, and I will fight for you with every ounce of energy and conviction that I have."
He also expressed some uncharacteristic empathy for those who had lost family members in the coronavirus pandemic.
"My heart breaks for every grieving family that has lost a precious loved one. I feel their anguish. I mourn their loss. I feel their pain."
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Trump and Biden in a statistical dead heat in Florida - a state seen as a must win for Trump.
Democratic rival Joe Biden, meanwhile, has shown surprising strength with senior voters, many of whom have faulted Trump for his response to the health crisis…
A message Biden brought with him to Michigan on Friday.
"President Trump revels in division and chaos. He'll do anything to distract us from focusing on his failures to deal with this virus and to protect the nation. He's still living in a dream world."
Trump lags in opinion polls and latest figures from his campaign show he is also behind in fundraising as the campaign intensifies with 18 days to go before Nov. 3. That comes as early voting is shattering records, with more than 22 million Americans having already cast ballots.
The candidates returned to the trail after dueling town hall events Thursday night replaced a presidential debate that was canceled after Trump's bout with coronavirus.
Trump repeatedly took swipes Friday at NBC moderator Savanah Guthrie for pressing him on his pandemic response, his past comments on white supremacy and on the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory.
"That was a nice evening. That was a nice, pleasurable evening. I had somebody going totally crazy last night... I didn't watch 'Sleepy Joe' last night, I just wanted to see what he looked like. He wasn't looking too good...It was like soft balls."
But in a surprise -- Biden won the TV ratings battle, according to Nielsen ratings data.
CNN reported that Biden pulled in 13.9 million viewers on ABC on Thursday night.. while Trump had just 13 million across three different networks: NBC, MSNBC and CNBC.