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US Election 2020: Joe Biden, in sign of confidence, will visit Iowa in race’s final days

Joe Biden will travel to Iowa this week, he announced on Monday, a sign of confidence that suggests his campaign is significantly expanding its electoral map with just eight days left in the presidential race.

“I’m going to be going to Iowa, be going to Wisconsin, I’m going to Georgia, I’m going to Florida and maybe other places as well,” Biden said during a stop at a voter center in Chester, Pennsylvania.

And in a remarkably bold pronouncement for a Democratic presidential candidate, Biden declared that he would win Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, three critical battleground states that might be his key to victory. He also said he thought he had a “fighting chance” in Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Iowa, states that were once thought to be a reach for Democrats but that recent polls indicate are now up for grabs.

“I am not overconfident about anything,” Biden said. “I just want to make sure we can earn every vote possible.”

“That blue wall has to be reestablished,” he added, referring to the Northern battleground states, which are traditionally Democratic.

Biden’s call to resurrect the “blue wall,” which Donald Trump knocked down in 2016, and his announcement of an intense final push that includes visits to Iowa and Georgia, both states that Trump won handily, suggest that the Biden campaign feels it is in a position of strength heading into the final stretch.

It also comes as some Democrats have privately expressed concern about Biden’s relatively light schedule during the coronavirus pandemic even as he is leading in polls. He traveled to Pennsylvania on Saturday, but his only in-person appearance on Sunday was going to church near his home in Delaware. (He also made a brief appearance during a virtual concert held by his campaign.)

His cautious approach to campaigning has drawn ridicule from Trump, who poked fun at his opponent while at his third rally of the day in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania. “He said he doesn’t do these kinds of rallies because of COVID,” Trump told a large crowd gathered at an airport hangar, after throwing red caps into the audience. “No, he doesn’t do them because nobody shows up.”

And at another rally on Monday in Lititz, Pennsylvania, the president mocked Biden for his sparse travel schedule, saying that if the former vice president lost, “he should be ashamed of himself because he didn’t work.”

Moments after Biden revealed his plans, his campaign provided more details about his travel schedule, indicating he would travel to Iowa and Wisconsin on Friday. His campaign had already announced his plans to travel to Georgia on Tuesday and Florida on Thursday.

Trying to stave off any criticism about his travel, Biden on Monday offered an explanation for his careful approach to campaigning during the pandemic.

“The big difference between us and the reason why it looks like we’re not traveling — we’re not putting on superspreaders,” he said.

It is not unheard-of for campaigns to make late forays into long-shot states, sometimes to force their opponents to spend more resources there and sometimes to help down-ballot Senate or House candidates. But polling has suggested that Biden is competitive in both Georgia and Iowa, where the Democratic Senate candidate, Theresa Greenfield, is also in a tight race. An average of current polls shows Biden with a narrow edge of 3 percentage points over Trump in Iowa, according to The New York Times’ calculator, and roughly tied with the president in Georgia.

Biden’s schedule in the last week of the campaign may prompt questions about whether his campaign is overly confident in his electoral prospects in crucial battlegrounds like Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states that Trump narrowly won in 2016. Biden’s decision to travel to Wisconsin, another Midwestern swing state that Trump carried in 2016, also suggests his campaign is perhaps more wary of his chances there.

Trump spent Monday focused on Pennsylvania. At his first rally, in Allentown, the president ripped into Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, in demeaning and personal terms, saying, “She will not be the first woman president — you can’t let that happen.” Trump also mocked the way she laughed during her “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday.

The president went on to offer caustic negative appraisals of other prominent women he said had treated him badly — CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Moments later, he trumpeted his appeal to “suburban women,” despite polls showing him trailing Biden among suburban women in battleground states by more than 20 percentage points.

Vice President Mike Pence, whose office is facing a coronavirus outbreak, was also on the trail Monday in Minnesota, where the Trump campaign has held out hope for a victory.

By Sydney Ember and Glenn Thrush. Annie Karni contributed reporting.

c.2020 The New York Times Company

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