The president had planned to hold airport rallies in Reno and Las Vegas but they were cancelled due to state coronavirus restrictions limiting public gatherings to 50.
Instead, Trump was set to hold an event in Minden, about 45 miles south of Reno, on Saturday night, followed by a roundtable with Latino supporters on Sunday morning in Las Vegas and an evening event at a manufacturing facility in neighboring Henderson.
Nevada hasn’t supported a Republican for president since 2004 but polls indicate that Trump is gaining support there among Latinos and non-college educated white voters.
Both candidates have spent about $4.5m in the state. According to the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG, Trump has allocated $5.5m and Biden $2.5m in future ad spending.
In other battlegrounds, North Carolina and Florida are competitive but the Trump campaign’s lavish attention to upper midwestern states which delivered the White House in 2016, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, does not appear to be paying off.
On Monday, Trump will visit Arizona for the fifth time this year. To some analysts, that telegraphs real concern.
“Probably some internal polling [is] telling them that Arizona may be slipping away,” Richard Herrera, professor emeritus of political studies at Arizona State University, told the Arizona Republic.
“Polling might be telling them that Biden is making headway with certain types of groups. This is what you do when you’re seeing numbers that aren’t publicly available and they tell you that you need to go and shore up your base.”
Both the Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia rate Arizona as a toss-up – and Nevada as “lean Democratic”. If Arizona’s 11 electoral votes slip away, Republican officials have privately acknowledged, Trump’s path to 270 votes and re-election will be in peril, even if he wins Wisconsin, his most likely midwestern pick-up, Florida and North Carolina.
Democrats were quick to react to Trump’s effort in the desert states, with both Biden and Kamala Harris making overtures to voters.
“Nevada families need solutions – from containing the pandemic to building the economy back better to making quality healthcare more accessible to millions of Americans,” Biden said in a statement.
Harris was due to hold a virtual roundtable with Latino voters in Arizona. The campaign also released a volley of Spanish-language ads.
Breaking a recent silence on the climate crisis, Biden said: “The science is clear, and deadly signs like these are unmistakable – climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life.”
Trump, he said, “can try to deny that reality, but the facts are undeniable. In the years ahead, there will be no challenge more consequential to our future than meeting and defeating the onrushing climate crisis.”
Recent figures have shown Biden out-raising Trump nationally. Trump raised $210m in August, according to official filings, but Biden raised $364.5m.
The Republican National Committee said it expected $18m to be raised over the weekend, with couples invited to stump up $150,000 for the Las Vegas fundraiser.