Joe Biden and Kamala Harris head for Republican strongholds one week before poll

President Donald Trump continues to focus on the ‘blue wall’ states he took from the Democrats four years ago.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris speaks while Joe Biden listens (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris speaks while Joe Biden listens (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are targeting Republican strongholds a week before the US election.

Mr Biden is travelling to Georgia which has not supported a Democratic nominee for president since 1992 and later in the week will visit Iowa which President Donald Trump won comfortably in 2016.

Ms Harris, Mr Biden’s vice presidential running mate, is heading to Arizona and Texas where Republicans have not lost an election for a statewide office since 1994.

The aggressive schedule is a sign of confidence by the Biden team, which is trying to stretch the electoral map and open up more paths to 270 electoral college votes.

But after Democrats flirted with Republican territory in 2016, only to lose those states as well as their traditional Midwestern strongholds, Mr Biden’s campaign is mindful of overreaching.

The former vice president will also visit in the coming days Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida.

US Election
(PA Graphics)

Georgia, where Mr Biden will make two stops on Tuesday, has increasingly become a draw for Democrats in recent years, as turnout increases among black voters and the Atlanta suburbs tilt away from the Republicans.

“If this was the Georgia of 2008, 2012 I think there’s no way we would have seen a Biden come this late,” said Nse Ufot, chief executive officer of the New Georgia Project, which aims to increase voter registration, especially among young people and minorities.

“It’s a loud signal and acknowledgement of Georgia as a battleground state.”

Mr Trump is staying focused on the so-called “blue wall” states that he flipped in 2016: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, where he will return on Tuesday to hit West Salem just three days after holding a Janesville rally.

While Mr Biden rarely travels to more than one state per day, the president has maintained a whirlwind schedule, crisscrossing the country and making the argument that he built a booming economy before the coronavirus pandemic upended it.

His latest swing could be a victory lap after the Senate on Monday approved the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett and gave conservatives a commanding, 6-3 advantage on the Supreme Court.

Mr Trump has sought to use the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month to animate conservative evangelical and Catholic voters to his candidacy, but the high court fight has been overshadowed by concerns over the coronavirus with cases surging.

President Donald Trump  (Patrick Semansky/AP)
President Donald Trump (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Mr Biden, meanwhile, is hoping to lift Democrats running for Senate in Georgia and Iowa with this travel plans.

He planned to unveil his closing message during a Tuesday speech in Warm Springs, Georgia, where natural hot springs offered President Franklin Delano Roosevelt comfort as he battled polio and governed a nation weathering the Great Depression and the Second World War.

The former vice president’s campaign says his appearance will bookend his visit earlier this month to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when Mr Biden used the site of the bloody Civil War battle to issue a call for bipartisanship and putting country ahead of party.

On Tuesday, he will try to evoke Mr Roosevelt’s New Deal sensitivities while promising to restore the nation’s character.

“This is our opportunity to leave the dark, angry politics of the past four years behind us,” Mr Biden declares in a 60-second closing ad airing on national cable channels and 16 states his campaign considers battlegrounds.

Both campaigns focused Monday on Pennsylvania, with Mr Trump drawing thousands of largely mask-less supporters to rallies while Mr Biden popped just over the border from his home in Delaware to greet a small group of supporters outside a campaign field office in Chester.

Mr Biden declared: “Bottom line is Donald Trump is the worst possible person to lead us through this pandemic.”

Mr Trump countered that his Democratic challenger would impose unnecessary shutdowns.

“It’s a choice between a Trump boom or a Biden lockdown,” the president said at a rally in Allentown.

With more than a third of the expected ballots in the election already cast, it could become increasingly challenging for Mr Trump and Mr Biden to reshape the race.

Mr Biden is leading in most national polls and has an advantage, though narrower, in many key battlegrounds.

The campaign’s final week is colliding with deepening concerns about the Covid crisis.

Mr Trump is anxious for voters to focus on other issues such as the economy.

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