Donald Trump on Friday escalated his attack on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, saying he should be “locked up” for dubious allegations of corruption. The US president was speaking at an election rally in the state of Georgia.

“Lock up the Bidens. Lock up Hillary,” Trump told his supporters at the rally in Macon, Georgia, seeking to tie Biden to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic challenger he beat in 2016.

Biden leads Trump narrowly in the state that has firmly been Republican and has not voted for a Democrat since 1992.

Biden, meanwhile, kept the focus of his attacks on the US president’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. At a rally in Michigan, a battleground state that Trump won narrowly in 2016, Biden said the Republican incumbent had “gone around the bend” for repeatedly claiming the US had “turned the corner” on the outbreak.

With less than three weeks left for the close of polling on November 3 – more than 25 million people have already voted through mail or in person – Trump was trailing Biden by 9 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls and 10.6 points in the FiveThirtyEight weightage of polls.

The US president has been desperately trying to shift the focus of the election from his handling of the pandemic to his Democratic rival, questioning his age, his mental health status, and using a dubious news story – which is being investigated by the FBI as a possible Russian misinformation ploy – to allege corruption by Biden.

Earlier on Friday, in Fort Myers, Florida, Trump sought to reach out to the elderly people – a key support base that felt alienated by his handling of the pandemic. “We are rounding the turn. I say that all the time. Some of the media doesn’t like hearing it. But I say it all the time, we’re rounding that turn.”

Biden, who has questioned Trump’s claims in the past, slammed him at a rally in Detroit, Michigan. “He’s still living in a dream world. He keeps telling us that this virus is going to disappear like a miracle,” Biden said. “As my grandfather Finnegan might say if he were here… he’s gone around the bend. Turned the corner – my lord! It’s not disappearing. In fact, it’s on the rise again.”

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