Biden challenges Trump on economy in Minnesota face-off, early voting
begins in four states
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[September 19, 2020]
By Jarrett Renshaw and Steve Holland
BEMIDJI/HERMANTOWN, Minn. (Reuters) -
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized President
Donald Trump's handling of the U.S. economy on Friday as the two rivals
campaigned in the election battleground state of Minnesota, one of four
states where early voting was getting underway.
Trump trails Biden in national opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3
election, but is trying to make up ground in Minnesota, a state he lost
by about 1.5 percentage points to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Biden toured a union carpenter training center in Hermantown, a suburb
of the Lake Superior port city of Duluth, and painted a grim picture of
the economic situation in Minnesota's iron ore mining region, saying the
coronavirus pandemic has driven up joblessness.
The former U.S. vice president blamed Trump for the sustained economic
downturn, saying the Republican president has done little to contain the
public health crisis.
"Trump has given up on even pretending to do his job," Biden said.
Biden repeated a pledge to invest $2 trillion on U.S. infrastructure
improvements while tackling climate change. Biden also said he would
make sure all federal projects use American-made materials and union
Trump keeps promising an infrastructure plan, but one never
materializes, Biden said.
"He has no plan," Biden added.
Trump spoke to thousands of people gathered outside an airport hangar in
Bemidji, Minnesota, on Friday evening.
He would win Minnesota thanks to his economic record, Trump said,
pointing to the strength of Minnesota's economy in 2019, before the
Trump also attacked what he said were Biden's policies on refugees.
"Good luck, Minnesota," he said. "Your state will be overrun and
destroyed if Biden and the radical left win."
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Laleh Daftarian, 6, plays with a balloon as she waits with her
parents, Steven and Nataliia, in a socially distant line at an early
voting site at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax,
Virginia, U.S., September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago
Recent opinion polls have given Biden a comfortable lead in
Minnesota. The poll-tracking website RealClearPolitics showed Biden
up by an average of 10.2 percentage points as of Friday.
The two candidates were in Minnesota on the first day of early
voting in the state, a reminder that voting in the election already
has begun as voters opt to cast ballots early or by mail during the
pandemic. Voters in Virginia, South Dakota and Wyoming also began
casting in-person ballots on Friday.
In Virginia, elections officials in Fairfax and Arlington counties
in the Washington suburbs reported heavy turnout, with lines out the
In Minneapolis, some 44 people cast ballots in the first 30 minutes
that the city's lone polling center was open. Some said they were
anxious to get an early jump on the process, or to avoid potential
crowds on Election Day.
The pandemic has sharply curtailed both candidates' campaign travel
and is expected to bring a surge of early and mail voting as
Americans seek to reduce their exposure to crowds.
"I just wanted to come get it done," said Jason Miller, 33, a
painter who was in line before the site opened to cast a vote for
Miller said he could not wait to cast a vote against Trump.
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