Election Day 2020: 13 days to go

©Agence France-Presse

Former US President Barack Obama hit the stump for Joe Biden with a 'drive-in car rally' in Philadelphia

Washington (AFP) - Barack Obama hits the campaign trail, Donald Trump courts voters in North Carolina and Joe Biden is still at home on the eve of the final debate: here's what's going on in the US presidential campaign with 13 days to go.

  • Biden absent for day three - 

For the third day in a row, Democratic presidential candidate Biden did not have any events on his public schedule on Wednesday -- a stark difference from Trump, who is holding rally after rally in the run-up to November 3.

Biden's critics constantly challenge the health and mental capacity of the 77-year-old former vice president, but there is no concrete reason to doubt his absence is due to anything but preparation for Thursday's televised debate.

  • Obama on the stump - 

Biden has been counting on his old boss Obama to do the campaigning for him.

The former president made his first in-person appearances on the campaign trail, telling Biden supporters in Philadelphia that Trump had shown he wasn't the man for the presidency.

"This is not a reality show. This is reality. And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously," he told the rally.

Obama's support is seen as vital for his former number two. The pair were in office from 2009 to 2017.

  • Carolina on Trump's mind - 

Another key swing state is North Carolina, where Trump will pursue his daily campaign rally marathon -- probably without the same social distancing in effect for the Obama event.

The Republican incumbent is hoping to use his public appearances to make up some ground lost to Biden in the polls.

The East Coast state also welcomed Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, on Wednesday. She encouraged residents to vote early.

42 million votes are in

Early voting -- in-person and absentee -- is the buzzword of this campaign, and records are falling every day. So far, 42 million Americans have cast their ballots, according to the independent US Elections Project, which is run by the University of Florida.

Democrats have urged voters to turn out early, as a means of respecting virus prevention measures. But a flood of voters have descended in some states, meaning hours-long lines.

Team Trump has repeatedly criticized early voting as being susceptible to fraud, though it has offered no evidence to that effect. It has asked supporters to show up en masse on November 3.

AOC a hit on Twitch

The pandemic has stopped candidates going door-to-door for last-minute votes -- so leave it to Washington's millennial lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to use technology to canvas.

The freshman Democratic US representative, 31, was an instant hit on streaming platform Twitch late Tuesday when she took on all-comers in a game of space adventure "Among Us." 

The social-media savvy New York congresswoman pulled in an audience of more than 430,000 viewers to the get-out-the-vote event, placing it among the most popular ever streams on the Amazon-owned platform, which focuses on gaming and sports events.

"You guys can call me AOC," Ocasio-Cortez told her fellow gamers. "Mike Pence can't call me AOC, but you guys can." 

The vice president referred to her by her initials during his debate against challenger Kamala Harris last week.