Biden campaigned in Ohio, attempting to expand the battleground map and keep Trump on the defensive in a state thought to be out of reach for Democrats after Trump’s wide margin of victory there four years ago.
A slew of recent polls has had the Democratic challenger leading Trump in national polls, often by double digits. Likewise, many battleground state surveys, though often narrower than the national picture, have Biden with healthy leads. The situation has led several top Republicans to make rare public warnings of losing the White House – and maybe even Republicans losing the Senate.
On the campaign trail Biden stressed an economic message and touted his own record while casting Trump as having abandoned working-class voters who helped him win rust belt states that put him in the White House in 2016.
In Toledo, Biden addressed United Auto Workers who represent a local General Motors’ powertrain plant. The former vice-president spoke in a parking lot with about 30 American-made cars and trucks arrayed nearby, and he struck a decidedly populist note, praising unions and arguing that he represented working-class values while the Republican Trump cared only about impressing the Ivy League and country club set.
“I don’t measure people by the size of their bank account,” Biden said. “You and I measure people by the strength of their character, their honesty, their courage.”
Meanwhile as the nomination hearings for Barrett began back in Washington the Biden campaign took umbrage at Republican criticisms that they had targeted Barrett’s Catholic faith as a reason not to nominate her – despite the fact that Democrats focused almost entirely on issues like healthcare.
A spokesperson for Biden accused Republicans of double standards, noting the Democratic nominee would be only the second Catholic president in US history if elected next month. “Where were these Republican senators when Trump outrageously attacked Biden’s faith, saying he’d ‘hurt God’?” Andrew Bates said in a tweet.
Trump said during an August campaign event that Biden would “take away your guns, destroy your second amendment. No religion, no anything, hurt the Bible, hurt God.” Trump added of Biden: “He’s against God, he’s against guns, he’s against energy, our kind of energy.”
In Ohio Biden highlighted his role as vice-president as the Obama administration rescued the US auto industry after the 2008 financial collapse. George W Bush signed the aid package after the 2008 election, but the Obama administration managed most of the rescue program.
“The auto industry that supported one in eight Ohioans was on the brink,” Biden said at the drive-in rally, eliciting horn honks from people listening from their vehicles. “Barack and I bet on you, and it paid off.”
Trump, meanwhile, was resuming campaign travel for the first time since testing positive for the coronavirus, holding an evening rally in Florida. And Vice-President Mike Pence staged his own midwestern event in Ohio’s capital, Columbus, concluding remarks at Savko & Sons, an excavation company that hosted Obama at one of its job sites in 2010, shortly before Biden took the stage in Toledo.
In a nod to Senate confirmation hearings on Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court – where Biden’s running mate, California senator Kamala Harris, was participating remotely – Pence declared to applause that “we’re going to fill that seat”.
Pence also noted that Biden has refused to say whether he will heed the calls of some progressive Democrats who would like to see the party expand the number of seats on the supreme court, should Democrats win the White House and the Senate on 3 November while retaining control of the House.
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