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LIVE: Trump to appeal to Nevada voters -- from neighboring Arizona |

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LIVE: Trump to appeal to Nevada voters -- from neighboring Arizona

LAS VEGAS (AP) — President Donald Trump is making a crunch-time appeal to voters in Nevada. But he's doing it from Arizona.

The Republican president was under pressure Wednesday to avoid one negative result of a September rally in Nevada that attracted thousands of people: The airport that hosted that event was fined more than $5,500 for violating crowd restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Rather than curb the crowds as virus cases spike across the U.S., Trump is simply shifting his event across the banks of the Colorado River to Bullhead City, Arizona. It's the latest example of Trump's efforts to downplay the virus and criticize Democratic leaders in states such as Nevada who have imposed limits on gatherings to combat the worst public health crisis in more than a century.

Trump emphasized that criticism Tuesday as he campaigned in Michigan and Wisconsin, important battlegrounds with Democratic governors who have set restrictions to address the pandemic.

“Speaking of lockdowns, let's get your governor to open it up,” Trump said in West Salem, Wisconsin.

With less than a week until Election Day, Trump is trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in most national polls. Biden also has an advantage, though narrower, in the key swing states that could decide the election.

Biden was spending the day in Wilmington, Delaware, where he lives, but received a virtual briefing from public health experts, including Dr. David Kessler, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who warned, “We are in the midst of the third wave, and I don’t think anyone can tell you how high this is going to get.”

In the U.S., more than 71,000 people a day are testing positive for the virus on average, up from 51,000 two weeks ago. Cases are rising in all but two states, Hawaii and Delaware, and deaths are climbing in 39, with an average of 805 people dying in the U.S. per day, up from 714 two weeks ago.

Overall, about 227,000 Americans have now been killed by the virus.

Trump views Nevada, a state that hasn't backed a Republican for president since 2004, as one option for success. Hillary Clinton won it by less than 2.5 percentage points in 2016.

The president is also aiming to keep Arizona in his column. The state hasn't backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996, but it is competitive this year for both the presidency and the Senate. Democrat Mark Kelly is in a close race against GOP Sen. Martha McSally.

Democrats aren't ceding either Nevada or Arizona to Trump in the final days of the campaign. Biden's running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, hit Nevada in an effort to prevent the state from flipping to Trump.

“A path to the White House runs right through this field,” Harris said in a Las Vegas park Tuesday evening.

She was also traveling to Arizona, meeting with Latina business leaders in Tucson and African American community leaders in Phoenix, as well as holding drive-in, voter mobilization rallies both places Wednesday. On Friday, Harris will visit Fort Worth, Houston and the U.S.-Mexico border town of McAllen in Texas -- a state that hasn’t backed a Democrat for president since 1976 or even elected one to statewide office since 1994.

Biden’s wife, Jill, and Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff, previously visited Texas -- but not the Democratic presidential nominee himself.

“It would just be so powerful for Joe Biden to be here,” Beto O’Rourke a former Texas congressman and one of Biden’s former presidential primary rivals said Wednesday. “This is the most diverse swing state in the nation.”

Texas has long been so solidly red that top national Democrats visited only to hold fundraisers, then spent their hauls in places thought to be more competitive. The state has remained fiercely conservative, despite a booming Latino population.

“I am really grateful for the attention that they have given Texas because it has been so long since a presidential campaign gave this state a look,” O’Rourke said of Harris and the other Biden campaign visits. But he declined to predict that Biden would win the state next week -- which, though improbable, would all but ensure an Electoral College blowout for the former vice president.

With Election Day looming. both Biden and Trump are trying to demonstrate momentum.

“We’re definitely on offense, but we are also visiting the states where the president did win last time,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said on a conference call with reporters.

Democrats point to a larger number of their party members returning absentee ballots in pivotal states like Pennsylvania — results that could be decisive since more people are likely to vote by mail during the pandemic. Trump's team argues that enough of its supporters will vote on Election Day to overwhelm any Biden advantage.

Nearly 68 million people nationwide have now voted in advance, either by casting early, in-person ballots or voting by mail, according to an Associated Press analysis. That already represents 115% of the advance ballots cast in the 2016 election, and 135% of votes prior to Election Day during the 2018 midterms.

Trump’s campaign is facing a cash crunch, meanwhile, which has pinched his advertising budget at a time when Biden is using his funding advantage to flood the airwaves with ads in battleground states. That’s forced Trump to do more of his signature rallies as a substitute, despite a worsening pandemic.

In Arizona, Biden is nearly doubling the spending of Trump and the Republican National Committee, which has more cash on hand than the president and has been tapped to help pay for ads in the closing weeks.

In Nevada, the gulf is even more dramatic, with Trump and the RNC’s minimal $500,000 ad buy for the week getting drowned out by $3.3 million in advertising from Biden and his allies, according to data from the ad tracking firm CMAG/Kantar.

Biden is focusing later this week on states that Trump won in 2016, with plans to visit Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan in the closing stretch.

On Tuesday, he was in Georgia, which hasn't voted for a Democratic White House hopeful since 1992, hitting Trump on his handling of the pandemic.

“The tragic truth of our time is that COVID has left a deep and lasting wound in this country,” Biden said while campaigning in the town of Warm Springs.