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The Trump And Biden Campaigns Make Last-Minute Push In Midwest

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

It is Friday, and that means both President Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are spending some of their final hours of campaigning in Wisconsin. Trump won the state in 2016. Later, both men will end up in Minnesota, where Trump came close to winning last time. Biden is now ahead in the polls, but an NPR analysis shows that Trump has a narrow and not-impossible path to win a second term. Here's what Biden said before he left.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: No, I'm not concerned. We're going to be in Iowa. We're going to be in Wisconsin. So I thought I'd stop in Minnesota. I don't take anything for granted. We're going to work for every single vote up to the last minute.

CHANG: Meanwhile, the president is angry that state officials are capping the number of people allowed into his rally in Minnesota because of the coronavirus.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're having a problem with some people in Minnesota, where they have a cap because Biden goes there and he can't draw a fly. He can't draw anybody - just a few cars, I guess, and they honk their horn.

CHANG: Well, NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe joins us now from a bus driving through Iowa, where Joe Biden stopped earlier today.

Hey, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Hello.

CHANG: All right. So let's start with Wisconsin and Minnesota. Tell us why we are seeing both candidates there today.

RASCOE: NPR's analysis shows that both of these states are leaning Democrat. There's 20 Electoral College votes between the two of them, so they're really important to both candidates. Trump won Wisconsin last time by a narrow margin, and he was really close in Minnesota, which had been a reliable Democratic state. So Trump has been projecting confidence about these states, but he'll be back in both of them this weekend.

You heard Biden say that he's not taking anywhere for granted. And this seems to be the big lesson from 2016, when Democrats felt like they did not spend enough time campaigning in the Midwest.

CHANG: Well, you are traveling with Biden today. You were on his campaign bus in Iowa. And he had this message there about the coronavirus pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: Donald Trump has waved the white flag. He surrendered to this virus. But the American people don't give up.

CHANG: So how are Biden and Trump framing the pandemic in these final days leading up to the election?

RASCOE: These Midwest states have been hit really hard. Here in Iowa, hundreds of polling places were shut down this year because of the virus. It's made it hard to vote in many parts of the states.

And you saw at this event with Biden today, you know, all of the people were in cars, and they were honking their horns, as Trump said. But because Biden has made Trump's handling of the virus a key issue, you know, saying he failed voters - but Trump has been emphasizing that vaccines and treatments are on the way and then said that people are sick of hearing about the coronavirus. Trump will be in Iowa on Sunday, by the way.

CHANG: OK. Well, the president started his day in Michigan which is another state that is leaning Democratic in NPR's analysis. And he talked about the increase in GDP that came out yesterday. Let's take a listen to what he said there.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: This is the biggest number, 33.1, and the news doesn't want to talk about it because it's positive. They only want to talk about negative when it comes to us.

CHANG: So, Ayesha, why hasn't the president been talking more about the economy on the trail?

RASCOE: His advisers definitely want him to, especially, you know, in this state which is key to his narrow path to a second term. You know, it's a key message, but it gets lost in his speeches because he tends to veer from topic to topic. He'll be talking about Fox News and all of these other issues. And Trump has said that he senses that people are tired of hearing about the economy. So he tends to go to the things that he thinks are more exciting. He will be back in the state on Sunday and twice on Monday. In fact, he will do his final big rally in Grand Rapids, just as he did in 2016.

CHANG: All right. Well, tomorrow, Biden and former President Obama are heading over to Michigan. Tell us what else the candidates have planned for this final weekend.

RASCOE: A lot more travel in the next few days - the Biden campaign will spend a lot of time in Pennsylvania on Sunday and Monday because that could be a pivotal state in this election. Tomorrow, Trump is doing, you know, four rallies in Pennsylvania. Then he's going to do five a day on Sunday and Monday. In this push, he'll also hit North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

CHANG: All right. Well, that is White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe from the trail in Iowa.

Thank you, Ayesha.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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