Biden Hopes to Fix Democrats’ 2016 Issue With Focus on Wisconsin
Joe Biden wants to win Wisconsin to get to the White House. And to do so, he needs to campaign there. So Wednesday, he did — from Delaware.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is spending Wednesday campaigning from afar in the key battleground that Hillary Clinton lost by fewer than 23,000 of the nearly 3 million votes cast for president there.
That loss was attributed to her decision not to campaign there in the general election, handing a state that had gone Democratic in every presidential election since 1988 to the Republicans.
In contrast, the Biden campaign stressed the former vice president is focused on the state and its needs.
“Wisconsin economies both urban and rural are paying the price for President Trump’s carelessness and incompetence,” campaign spokeswoman Julia Krieger said. “Joe Biden doesn’t just empathize with resilient Wisconsinites, he knows they need relief and resources deployed now.”
While Biden couldn’t travel there because he is following Delaware’s lockdown order, his trip via livestream was a signal that his campaign isn’t losing track of the state, even as it looks to broaden the number of battlegrounds states to include Arizona, Georgia and Texas.
On Wednesday, his team held a roundtable discussion with rural voters in La Crosse, and planned an afternoon rally in Milwaukee and interviews with TV stations in Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee. He’s also campaigned virtually in Florida, while his wife Jill Biden has already campaigned in Arizona and Pennsylvania this way, with plans to hit Georgia on Thursday.
Biden had a narrow edge in the most recent poll of the state, leading President Donald Trump 46% to 43% among registered voters in a Marquette University Law Schoolpoll conducted May 3-7. Views of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis have worsened as it’s persisted, with 51% saying they disapproved of his performance.
Democrats have been so intent on winning back Wisconsin that the party chose to hold its presidential nominating convention in Milwaukee, though that may be largely virtual as well. It was already pushed from July to August to improve the odds that at least some participants will be able to gather there without endangering public health.
Democratic Governor Tony Evers this week expressed his doubts, saying Monday that it was “likely” the convention would be held virtually. “I want the Democratic convention to happen. But I also want to ensure that there isn’t stress on the public health system, nor put the delegates and others that come to the convention in harm’s way,” he said.
The state’s businesses have begun reopening since the state supreme court overturned Evers’ order that extended its “Safer at Home” policy through May 26.
“A lot of businesses find themselves in a situation where really they’re uneasy about the future. They want to get open, you know, every business wants to get people back in and, you know, enjoy their business, but they’re really worried about doing it safely,” Rob Grover, the director of economic development in Trempealeau County, said during the La Crosse roundtable.
The roundtable, like many of Biden’s similar in-person appearances, stretched past an hour as he spoke with local leaders about how their communities have changed since the coronavirus pandemic hit. The live viewer counter on the YouTube page hovered around 400 to 500, which would’ve been a strong showing for an in-person event in the city of 50,000.
“We can’t wait until we can have you in county here,” Grover told Biden.
“I wish I were with you now,” the candidate responded.
The state’s GOP dismissed Biden’s virtual visit as “out of touch.”
“Joe Biden’s increasingly far-left agenda couldn’t be more wrong for Wisconsin,” said state party chairman Andrew Hitt. “From Biden’s position on supporting the Green New Deal that would devastate Wisconsin farmers and manufacturers to his plans to launch a government takeover of healthcare that would force millions off their plans, Biden proves that he is out-of-touch with the people of Wisconsin.”
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