WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden is making his third trip to Pennsylvania in less than a week, returning just two days after his predecessor Donald Trump held his own rally there – demonstrating the importance of the battleground state to both parties at the start of the Labor Day clarifies from a nine-week sprint to the crucial midterm elections.
Trump spoke Saturday night at Wilkes-Barre, near Scranton, where Biden was born. The President made his own Wilkes-Barre trip last week to discuss increasing police funding, debunk the GOP’s criticism of the FBI following the raid on Trump’s Florida home, and to argue that new, bipartisan gun safety measures could help can help reduce violent crime.
Two days later, Biden went to Independence Hall in Philadelphia for a prime-time speech denouncing the “extremism” of Trump’s most vocal supporters. On Monday he will attend Labor Day celebrations in Milwaukee in another important swing state, Wisconsin, before heading to Pittsburgh for that city’s parade.
White House says Biden will celebrate “the dignity of American workers.” The unofficial beginning of autumn, Labor Day, also traditionally heralds the political crisis period, with campaigns struggling to excite voters ahead of Election Day on November 8th. Then control of the House and Senate and some of the country’s top governors will be decided.
Trump has endorsed candidates in key races across the country, and Biden warns that some Republicans now believe so strongly in Trumpism that they are willing to subvert core American values to promote it. The president said Thursday that the midterm elections will be a battle “for the soul of the nation,” the same slogan he used to win the 2020 election, and that “blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to embrace political violence participate is fatal for democracy.”
Biden added in that speech that “MAGA Republicans are destroying American democracy,” referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign call and pointing to incidents like last year’s mob attack on the US Capitol.
Trump said during his rally on Saturday that Biden’s performance in Philadelphia was “the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever made by an American president.”
“He’s an enemy of the state,” said the former president.
On Monday, Biden will return to another theme that was a centerpiece of his 2020 campaign, namely that unions were refurbishing the middle class, which in turn built and strengthened modern American society.
Supports from key unions helped Biden overcome disastrous early results in Iowa and New Hampshire to win the Democratic primary and eventually the White House. He’s continued to praise unions ever since — though many non-college-educated voters, many working-class, remain among Trump’s strongest supporters.
Mary Kay Henry, president of the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union, called Biden, who is championing unions as we move into the interim period, “critical” and said the labor movement “needs to mobilize on battlefields across the country, to ensure that working people participate. ”
“We are very pleased that the President is speaking directly to workers about joining a union if given the opportunity,” Henry said. She added: “This president has signaled which side he is on. And he is on the side of working people. And that is extremely important.”
Biden, meanwhile, has a personal history with Pittsburgh’s Labor Day parade, which is among the largest in the country. He attended Installment 2015 as Vice President and returned in 2018. Both times, Biden, now 79, faced questions about whether he would run for president in the upcoming election — which he decided against in 2016 before winning the White House in 2020.
This year, the oldest president in the nation’s history has faced speculation over whether he will seek a second term in 2024 – despite insisting that is his intention and pressure in recent weeks amid a spate of political and political successes has diminished somewhat for Biden and his party.
Still, both of the president’s constant battleground states that Biden visits Monday could provide important gauges of Democrat strength ahead of this November and 2024. With inflation still raging and presidential approval ratings remaining low, how much Biden can help his party in top races remains to be seen.
In Wisconsin, Democratic Lt. gov. However, Mandela Barnes, seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson, has been criticized by Johnson’s campaign for previously non-binding to appear with Biden in Milwaukee. In the state’s other top race, Tim Michels, a Trump-backed construction manager, is trying to deny Democratic Gov. Tony Evers a second term. Evers said he plans to switch to Biden on Monday.
Pennsylvania voters are choosing a new governor, with Attorney General John Shapiro facing another Trump-backed Republican, Doug Mastriano, and a new senator. This race is between Democratic Lt. gov. John Fetterman and Trump-backed famed cardiologist Mehmet Oz. Shapiro and Fetterman both wanted to attend the parade in Pittsburgh on Monday.
The Pennsylvania and Wisconsin races could decide which party controls the Senate next year, while the winner of each governorship could influence the results of the 2024 presidential election. The stakes are particularly high as some Trump-leaning candidates have lied about widespread fraud that didn’t happen in the 2020 election — raising questions about what might happen if a candidate they don’t support wins the next presidential contest wins.
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