Sunday May 9th, 2021 7:07PM

Trump, Biden charge into volatile final stretch of campaign

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WAYZATA, Minn. (AP) — For such a volatile year, the White House race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden has been remarkably consistent.

With Election Day just eight weeks away, Biden is maintaining the same comfortable lead in most national polls that he enjoyed through the summer. He also has an advantage, though narrower, in many of the battleground states that will decide the election. Trump remains in striking distance, banking on the intensity of his most loyal supporters and the hope that disillusioned Republicans ultimately swing his way.

Still, both parties are braced for the prospect of sudden changes ahead, particularly as Trump makes an aggressive pitch to white suburban voters focused on safety and fear of violent unrest. It’s unclear how well his rhetoric will resonate, but Democrats insist it can’t be ignored, especially in the upper Midwest.

That’s especially true in Minnesota, a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972. Democrats there say they’re increasingly concerned that the state is genuinely in play this year.

“Trump can win Minnesota,” said Rep. Dean Phillips, who in 2018 became the first Democrat to win his suburban Minneapolis district since 1960. “It’s real. It’s absolutely real.”

While Trump’s campaign is touting a play for Minnesota as a way to expand the electoral map, the president is playing defense in a host of the other battleground states he needs in order to secure the 270 Electoral College votes to keep the White House. Biden’s campaign is laser-focused on the states in the Midwest and close by that Trump flipped in 2016 -- Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania -- and also making a robust play for Arizona, a state that hasn’t backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996.

Biden is also redoubling his focus on Florida, the biggest prize among the perennial battlegrounds and a state that would virtually block Trump’s reelection if it swings Democratic. Biden’s allies hoped the devastating toll of the pandemic there would put them in a strong position, but a poll released on Tuesday found voters were closely divided. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, will make the campaign’s first in-person appearance in Florida on Thursday.

Beyond Florida, recent polls suggest close races in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, while a Fox News poll conducted after the recent national conventions gave Biden an advantage in Wisconsin. Polls conducted earlier in the summer also suggested a Biden lead in Michigan, though no polling has been conducted there since the conventions. Another post-convention Fox News poll found a Biden advantage in Arizona.

Still, polls that showed competitive races or even Democratic advantages in traditionally Republican states proved to be false indicators for Democrats in 2016.

Biden’s aides are bullish about competing on a broad map that includes multiple states Trump won in 2016, including Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

“There’s a number of combinations that will allow us to get where we need to go and get over the 270 hump,” Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager, told reporters last week.

But Trump has some important organizational advantages.

The campaigns will match each other almost dollar for dollar on television advertising nationwide through Election Day — each side has reserved $149 million in TV ads — but the money isn’t distributed evenly, according to the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG. In Minnesota, for example, Trump is scheduled to spend four times as much as Biden.

Trump has been far more willing to invest his time with swing-state voters on the campaign trail. His rally last month in Mankato was his fifth appearance in Minnesota since taking office. He was in both Florida and North Carolina on Tuesday

And while Biden resumed in-person campaigning last week after months of avoiding significant travel because of the pandemic, Trump is expected to embrace a much more aggressive campaign schedule than Biden in the coming weeks.

Republicans claim another practical advantage on the ground: People. Trump’s team has thousands of paid staff and volunteers across the country courting voters face-to-face, while Democrats are still conducting their canvassing efforts almost exclusively by phone and online.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows claims increased momentum, commenting last week aboard Air Force One as Trump was returning to Washington from a rally in Pennsylvania, which drew thousands, despite public health concerns. “It just continues to build bigger and bigger each time we go, Minnesota or Wisconsin or Pennsylvania or North Carolina. It just -– the crowds keep getting bigger and bigger.”

Trump’s advisers say they are no longer writing off Michigan — and their $13.8 million in advertising reserves in the state, not far behind Biden’s $16.3 million -- reflect their commitment. Trump aides are also optimistic about Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The race could ultimately come down to swing state suburbs, where many educated voters who have traditionally voted Republican have turned away from Trump’s GOP. The shift has fueled gains for Democrats in state elections since he took office, yet Trump’s team is betting that the focus on protest-related violence will scare some voters into giving him a second chance.

The balance for Democrats between embracing the Black Lives Matter movement and criticizing violence aimed at police is particularly sensitive in Wisconsin. The state has emerged as a center of the nation’s civil unrest following the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha and subsequent protests that sometimes became destructive.

Trump was a regular presence in Wisconsin even before the unrest, while Biden made his first stop of the campaign just last week.

Trump and his allies have also been a more visible presence in Pennsylvania, although Biden is catching up. The Democrat hosted a campaign event in the state on Monday, and both candidates plan to appear in Shanksville on Friday to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Terri Mitko, the Democratic Party chairwoman in Beaver County, one of the Democratic-leaning counties in western Pennsylvania where Trump pounded Hillary Clinton in 2016, predicted that most Trump voters would not abandon the president. She expects some independents and many new voters, however, to support Biden.

Still, she would like to see Biden emerge as a more visible presence.

“In Beaver County, we certainly would like to see him down here,” Mitko said. “People are asking for that.”

On Tuesday, Trump visited Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a top battleground state that became the nation’s first to send absentee ballots to voters late last week.

Biden’s campaign boasts that it’s already made 4 million calls to North Carolina voters, while Trump’s Tuesday appearance is one of a half dozen he or the vice president has made in recent weeks.

The calculus for many voters is complicated as the nation struggles under the weight of the pandemic, the related economic fallout and sustained civil unrest.

Minnesota, which Trump lost by just 45,000 votes four years ago, offers a window into the nuanced debate.

During a recent afternoon in Wayzata, Simone Metzdorff, a 52-year-old operations manager at an insurance company, conceded that she doesn’t know which candidate she’ll support.

She cast her ballot for Trump in 2016, largely because she considered him “the lesser of two evils.” But she continues to think he’s “vulgar,” “too outspoken” and “not appealing.”

She says the protests are unlikely to decide her vote. She’s “appalled” by what happened to Floyd but also “110% supportive of the police.”

Her husband's view of the Democrats is not ambivalent. John Metzdorff, a retired service technician, former Marine and Republican, said the day after Biden visited Kenosha: "Democrats, all of the sudden they change their tune. People are tired of rioting, and all of the sudden now Joe Biden is out?”


Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe and Zeke Miller in Washington; Tom Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa; Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina, and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump, Biden charge into volatile final stretch of campaign
For such a volatile year, the White House race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden has been remarkably consistent
6:49PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Computer glitches disrupt classes as schools return online
The millions of American youngsters returning to online classes Tuesday are facing technical glitches and other headaches that have plagued remote learning since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic
6:38PM ( 13 minutes ago )
South Lawn, Rose Garden under repair post-convention
The White House South Lawn and its iconic Rose Garden are undergoing extensive re-sodding and other work after last month’s Republican National Convention turned them into a muddy mess
6:25PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
7 killings investigated at illegal pot grow in California
Detectives are investigating what prompted the Labor Day killings of seven people at an illegal marijuana growing operation in a rural Southern California community known for horse ranches and plant nurseries along dirt roads
6:04PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Rochester police leaders retire after suffocation death
Top police leaders in Rochester, New York, have announced their retirements amid nightly protests over the handling of the suffocation death of Daniel Prude
6:03PM ( 48 minutes ago )
Firefighters injured, airlifted in central California blaze
The U.S. Forest Service says 14 firefighters and bulldozer operators were injured Tuesday while battling a blaze in central California
5:58PM ( 53 minutes ago )
AP National News
Helicopters pull more people from burning California forest
Helicopters are rescuing more people from the California wildfires as flames chew through bone-dry terrain after a scorching Labor Day weekend
4:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
Art dealer whose treasure sent hunters scouring US West dies
An antiquities dealer and author who gained fame after hiding a a treasure chest that drove hundreds of thousands of people to search the American West has died at age 90
3:56PM ( 2 hours ago )
California fires bring more chopper rescues, power shutoffs
Helicopters are rescuing more people from the California wildfires as flames chew through bone-dry terrain after a scorching Labor Day weekend
3:13PM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Trump readying potential Supreme Court nominee list
President Donald Trump is preparing to release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees
4:14PM ( 2 hours ago )
Census Bureau stops layoffs for door knockers after order
Two days after a federal judge ordered the U.S. Census Bureau to stop temporarily winding down operations for the 2020 census, the statistical agency says it's refraining from laying off some census takers and it's restoring some quality-control steps
4:10PM ( 2 hours ago )
House lawmakers ask for probe into Russian poisoning case
Key members of Congress are calling for the Trump administration to investigate the poisoning of a Russian opposition leader
4:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
COVID-19 vaccine latest flashpoint in White House campaign
A vaccine to shield Americans from becoming infected with the coronavirus is emerging as the latest flashpoint in the race for the White House
6:05AM ( 12 hours ago )
2020 Watch: How long can Trump ride 'law and order'?
President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are stepping up their campaign travel this week as the process of voting in the 2020 election season begins
5:16AM ( 13 hours ago )
Suu Kyi opens campaign for Myanmar election amid virus surge
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi raised her party’s flag at its office in the capital to start an election campaign that may be disrupted by the coronavirus
3:21AM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Elections
In Labor Day blur, Harris meets Blake family; Trump steps up
The 2020 presidential campaign has entered its final phase in a blur of motion and rhetoric
2:13PM ( 1 day ago )
Harris meets Blake family to kick off Wisconsin visit
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris met with the family of a Wisconsin man shot by police last month to kick off her visit to the critical swing state
1:16PM ( 1 day ago )
Labor Day bringing Biden to Pa., Harris and Pence to Wis.
The 2020 presidential race is entering its final phase
9:01AM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
100,000 march in Minsk to demand Belarus leader resigns
Tens of thousands of demonstrators have marched to the outskirts of the presidential residence in the capital of Belarus, calling for the country's authoritarian leader to resign
1:51PM ( 2 days ago )
Trump to campaign in Florida, N.C. battlegrounds on Tuesday
President Donald Trump plans to campaign in the battleground states of Florida and North Carolina on Tuesday
4:13PM ( 3 days ago )
Harris' mostly virtual campaign to get Wisconsin road test
It's been a mostly virtual campaign for Sen. Kamala Harris in the three weeks since she became the Democratic vice presidential nominee
2:15PM ( 3 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Pandemic politicking: Democrats at laptops. GOP at your door
Democrats are betting they can reach more voters without stepping outside while Republicans say political organizing in groups and face to face remains the better way, as both sides cope with reaching out to voters in the age of COVID-19
3:23PM ( 4 days ago )
Kamala Harris, Mike Pence to both be in Wisconsin on Monday
Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris is scheduled to make her first campaign appearance in battleground Wisconsin on Labor Day in Milwaukee, while Vice President Mike Pence was headed to western Wisconsin
3:22PM ( 4 days ago )
Trump denies calling US war dead 'losers,' 'suckers'
President Donald Trump is defending himself against accusations that he mocked American war dead
12:24PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Biden confirms virus test, says he'll be tested regularly
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is confirming that he’s been tested at least once for the COVID-19 virus and promises he will be tested regularly during his campaign against President Donald Trump
3:43PM ( 4 days ago )
The Latest: Jacob Blake speaks by phone with Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden has spoken with Jacob Blake on the phone for 15 minutes during a visit to Wisconsin
4:05PM ( 5 days ago )
The Latest: Wisconsin governor didn't want candidate visits
Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says he did not want presidential candidate Joe Biden to visit Kenosha where he met with family members of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot by police
3:10PM ( 5 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Computer glitches disrupt classes as schools return online
The millions of American youngsters returning to online classes Tuesday are facing technical glitches and other headaches that have plagued remote learning since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic
6:38PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Digital and drive-in, film festivals try to salvage a season
This is normally the time of year when flashy premieres march down red carpets and proclamations of Oscar buzz circle the globe
6:22PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Trump expands ban on new offshore drilling sites in Atlantic
President Donald Trump is seeking to claim the mantle of environmental steward as he announces an expansion of a ban on offshore drilling and highlights conservation projects in Florida
6:21PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Firefighters overtaken by flames in California mountains
The U.S. Forest Service says 14 firefighters and bulldozer operators were injured Tuesday while battling a blaze in central California
6:16PM ( 35 minutes ago )
England bans gatherings of more than 6 as virus cases spike
Britain’s government is banning gatherings of more than six people in England, as officials try to keep a lid on coronavirus infections
6:16PM ( 36 minutes ago )