Washington, United States:
US President Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden went to a duel in the battlefield state of Minnesota on Friday, quickly picking up the pace – and harsh tone – before their first debate.
While the two candidates have also just held televised mayoral sessions, the 2020 competition is finally starting to look more like a traditional battle for the White House, six weeks before voting day on November 3.
Biden spent much of the year locked up, along with the rest of the country, to avoid exposure to Covid-19. But with a CNN town hall in Pennsylvania on Thursday and a visit to a union facility in Duluth, Minnesota on Friday, he’s now getting into the election campaign in earnest.
Trump, who appeared at an ABC town hall on Tuesday, arrived in Minnesota shortly after Biden to speak to supporters in the small northern town of Bemidji.
Democratic state governor Tim Walz urged both teams to adhere to measures in place throughout Minnesota to slow the spread of Covid-19.
While Trump has campaigned much more intensely than Biden, he is also stepping up the pace and scale of his marquee rallies after being mostly forced to put them aside during the worst months of the pandemic.
The former vice president criticized Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic during his speech in Duluth, speaking directly to minors in the region who voted for the Republican billionaire in 2016 after decades of Democratic victories .
“How many people across the Iron Range, how many empty chairs around these tables, because of his carelessness and selfishness?” Biden asked.
“Times are tough. Unemployment is on the rise,” he added.
The day before, Biden called on Trump to step down for his handling of the global health crisis, which has killed nearly 200,000 people in the United States and torpedoed the world‘s largest economy.
Biden also took a new line of attack against his opponent on Friday, highlighting his own humble origins compared to Trump, who was heir to a fortune.
“I don’t respect people based on the size of the house they live in,” Biden said. “I don’t watch people who break their necks for a living.”
– Voting begins –
Minnesota is a historically democratic state. However, Trump only lost just under two percentage points in 2016 to Hillary Clinton.
Despite polls showing Biden is ahead now – the latest Morning Consult poll had Biden at 48% support and Trump at 44% – the real estate mogul believes he can turn him around this time around.
“Sleepy Joe has no idea” of how to handle a pandemic, Trump tweeted before leaving for Minnesota.
Biden’s trip shows Democrats are taking this threat seriously, with Trump likely to get his dual message of protecting blue collar jobs and cracking down after a summer of sometimes violent street protests across the country against police brutality and racism.
Heavily criticized by voters for his management of the Covid-19 crisis, Trump has been able to stir up fears of left-wing violence to refocus his campaign in recent weeks.
It’s a sensitive topic in Minnesota, where the wave of unrest began in May when an African American, George Floyd, died in police custody while a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
The intensification of the campaign sees both candidates sharpening the tone, with Trump telling voters at a rally in Wisconsin on Thursday “the gloves are off.”
The trips of the 70-year-old candidates coincide with the start of early voting in Minnesota, in person or by mail. According to an ABC / Washington Post poll, nearly 40% of residents plan to vote before November 3.
Voting before Election Day has long been in effect in many states. But the trend is expected to increase significantly this year due to Covid-19. Many states provide more flexibility for voters who do not wish to physically go to the polls in November.
On September 29, the rivals will hold their first of three debates, a time widely seen as having the potential to inject real drama into a race that has so far seen Biden hold a steady lead in the polls.
(This story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)