MINNEAPOLIS – A solidly blue state for the past half century, Minnesota became an unquestioned presidential battleground on Friday as President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden fought for working-class voters in dueling events that marked the beginning of early voting.
Their campaigning was knocked off front pages and broadcasts in the state and nationally Friday night by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, But before that, their contrasting styles and stances during the day and evening gave fresh signs of the campaign to come in the final weeks before Election Day.
The candidates steered clear of the state's most populated areas near Minneapolis to focus on blue-collar voters, some of whom shifted to Republicans for the first time in 2016. Trump went to Bemidji, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of Minneapolis, while Biden campaigned in a suburb of Duluth, on the banks of Lake Superior and close to the Wisconsin border.
Biden railed against Trump's inability to control the pandemic, casting the president's reluctance to embrace more serious social distancing safeguards as “negligence and selfishness” that cost American lives. Trump, before leaving the White House, said as he has many times that “we've done a phenomenal job” against the virus and predicted mass vaccinations by spring.
Biden, at a carpenter union's training hall in Minnesota, emphasized his plans to boost American manufacturing.
“It’s time to reward hard work in America and not wealth,” Biden declared with roughly a dozen workers looking on.
“When the government spends taxpayers' money, we should spend that money to buy American products made by American workers and American supply chains to generate American growth," Biden said. He promised to invest $400 billion in federal money over his first term to ensure more products are made in America.
Trump, meanwhile, predicted victory in Minnesota in November despite the state's long history of backing Democratic candidates.