MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden both went to Pennsylvania today, but their itineraries were a little bit different. Trump held three rallies across the crucial swing state. Meanwhile, Biden made a short trip from his home in Wilmington, Del., to Chester, outside Philadelphia, for a quick pit stop to greet supporters. Now, this is pretty typical for this election season. For Trump, the breakneck schedules of rallies is reminiscent of 2016, while Biden has stuck to a leaner travel schedule. With the latest from both campaigns, I want to bring in now NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez and our political correspondent Asma Khalid.
Welcome back, you two.
ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hey there.
FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hello.
KELLY: Franco, I'm going to let you start with the president and his travel schedule. You traveled with him over this past weekend, and it would almost be easier to list the states he didn't hit than the ones he did. He was all over - multiple events, multiple states.
ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, he was all over. You know, I went with him to Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. He also made stops in New Hampshire and Maine. You mentioned that he's in Pennsylvania. You know, he's really trying to capture his 2016 mojo. You kind of noted that. He's been very upbeat. You know, just take today in Pennsylvania. He is down in the polls, but he's arguing he's way up. And he just blames the media for - saying that the media is only talking about negative polls.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Polls just came out - so just came out. So let me tell you the real polls - OK? - because we feel we're winning almost easily. But you don't hear that.
ORDOÑEZ: You know, Trump points to the crowds as proof that he's winning. You know, someone who draws that many people just can't be running in second place, he argues. He mocks Biden for his crowd sizes, you know, while Trump packs them in - you know, that, yes, they're outdoors but really with no social distancing and frankly not many masks. He does a lot of joking with the crowd. He dances to the "Y.M.C.A." song. It's frankly kind of like a party.
But you know - but when you're at one of these events, it can feel like there's no pandemic going on - Trump's message that it's not so bad and that the country is, quote, "rounding the turn." But you know, of course, lives are still being lost. And a lot, a lot of lives are really turned upside down.
KELLY: Well, I'm glad you were along to fact-check it at many of those events over the weekend.
Asma Khalid, you have been traveling with the Biden campaign. Does it feel like he is campaigning on a different planet than President Trump?
KHALID: Oh, gosh - a totally different planet. Franco and I were actually just discussing that earlier. I mean, Joe Biden's events are small. They are socially distant. He'll often have these drive-in car rallies.
His schedule is also just smaller as well. You know, Biden did recently announce some additional travel for this week. You know, as you mentioned, he was in Pennsylvania today. He's going to head to Georgia tomorrow, Florida on Thursday and then Iowa and Wisconsin on Friday. But of course, none of this is at the speed at which we see President Trump campaigning. You know, today, for example, his entire little pit stop in Pennsylvania was roughly just a little less than a half an hour on the ground. And then it - that was it and back to Delaware.
Our intern Kalyani Saxena dug through the travel schedules for both Biden and Trump since the Democratic convention and found that President Trump has had about 15 more travel days than Biden, which, you know, Mary Louise, is kind of wild when you think that in the middle of that time frame...
KHALID: ...The president was hospitalized for the COVID, you know, virus.
KHALID: The Biden campaign does seem to think that this contrast, though, is important for them not just from a public health perspective, but also politically. They want to highlight the fact that they say they're being responsible amidst a pandemic. And today in Pennsylvania, when Biden was asked about his travel, here's how he answered.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JOE BIDEN: We're going to be traveling, continue to travel. But the big difference between us and the reason why it looks like we're not traveling - we're not putting on super-spreaders. We are doing what we're doing here. Everybody's wearing a mask and trying as best we can to be socially distanced.
KHALID: And you know, to me, one of the bigger unknown questions about this entire presidential race is that this is all happening in a really unconventional time period when so much of our lives has been upended. And so the question I have is just really whether traditional campaign events matter maybe as much as we've always thought they matter.
KELLY: Just to follow up on one place of that list of states you said Biden has gone to - Georgia. He's headed there this week. This is my home state. And I know for a fact this is not a state Democrats were targeting optimistically earlier on.
KHALID: No, not at all. The last time that a Democratic presidential candidate won the state was 1992 with Bill Clinton. But it shows how much the political map is changing. Kamala Harris was there the other day. She's also planning to campaign in Texas later this week. You know, Democrats do think that the so-called Sun Belt is more at play than they may have initially thought.
But I will point out - just as fascinating to me is the fact that Joe Biden intends to go to Iowa. He has built a pretty disparate coalition this year. He has a particular strength in the polls with white voters and seniors. And Iowa, you probably remember during the primaries, is a state where he finished fourth. It was not, you know, a good start for the early sort of bit of his primary campaign cycle.
KELLY: And, Franco, what about the president's travel schedule in terms of where he is going, the actual map? What does that tell us about what his campaign is thinking?
ORDOÑEZ: You know, it's interesting you guys talked about Georgia because the president recently held a rally in Macon. You know, that's Macon, Ga. So he's not necessarily going to these big urban areas. And that's partly because that's where he can hold rallies outdoors at some of these small tarmacs. But it's also about driving up the base and going to where they live. You know, I will say, though, that they're acting very confident. The campaign held a press call today with campaign manager Bill Stepien, and they say they feel really good about their standing and really good about the momentum of the grassroots operation.
KELLY: That is NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez and our political correspondent Asma Khalid.
Thanks to you both.
ORDOÑEZ: Thank you.
KHALID: You're welcome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.