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What to watch for as Harris and Pence visit Wisconsin.

2020-09-07 16:32:34

Labor Day is the traditional kickoff to the fall campaign season, but this year the holiday represents something more: the first time both candidates for vice president will be on the trail on the same day in the same state.

Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris on Monday will be on opposite ends of Wisconsin, a battleground that’s increasingly essential to President Trump’s electoral map.

Why Wisconsin is so important

While Democrats would relish reclaiming Wisconsin after Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss there in 2016, it’s more imperative for Mr. Trump to keep it in his column. If he holds every other state he captured in 2016, the president must win at least one of the three pivotal Big Ten states to claim re-election: Michigan, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. With his campaign increasingly concerned about his ability to win again in Michigan, where it has cut its advertising, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania loom even larger. And if Mr. Biden can run just slightly stronger in the state of his birth and early childhood than Mrs. Clinton did and win Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump’s hopes may rest entirely on Wisconsin.

Pence and Harris will visit very different parts of the state

The vice president is speaking to employees at the Dairyland Power Cooperative in La Crosse, a heavily white city at the western edge of the state. Ms. Harris is visiting with union workers and leaders as well as African-American businesspeople and pastors in Milwaukee, the Black hub of the state. They are both expected to focus on the economy.

Yet their political missions are different. The vice president is hoping to appeal to voters in a historically Democratic part of Wisconsin, where Mr. Trump outperformed his Republican predecessors, in hopes they abandon their political roots again. Ms. Harris, for her part, is hoping to rouse Black Democrats in a city where far fewer of them showed up in 2016 than in former President Barack Obama’s two winning campaigns.

Harris makes a swing-state debut

Ms. Harris’s trip on Monday will be the first time she has appeared with battleground state voters and, really, the first time she has been in any sort of spontaneous setting since she was chosen. Such forums are not her forte — she’s better working from prepared remarks — so Mr. Biden’s top aides will be keeping a close eye on how closely she sticks to her talking points. That could help shape the nature of the events she does in the final stretch of the campaign.


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