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Biden, Trump to hold dueling campaign stops in Minnesota

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE and Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter Trump narrows Biden's lead in Pennsylvania: poll Florida breaks first-day early voting record with 350K ballots cast MORE are each taking their campaigns to Minnesota on Friday as polls show the former vice president with a solid lead in a state that Trump narrowly lost four years ago.

Biden will tour a union training center and deliver a speech in Duluth in the afternoon, while Trump will speak at an outdoor airport rally in Bemidji that is likely to attract throngs of ebullient supporters on Friday evening.

The president’s visit is also expected to draw protests, according to local news reports. The trips come as early voting begins in the state. 

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Minnesota is among the few states that Trump’s campaign hopes to flip in 2020, though the state has not elected a Republican in a presidential contest in nearly half a century. Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLate night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study 10 steps toward better presidential debating Continuity is (mostly) on the menu for government contracting in the next administration MORE won Minnesota in 2016 by a slim 1.5 percentage point margin, and both the Trump and Biden campaigns have invested heavily in television advertising in the state. 

Minnesota emerged as a flashpoint in the national conversation about race and policing earlier this year when a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, for nearly nine minutes, killing him. 

In the months since, Trump has called Floyd’s death a “grave tragedy” while making the violence and destruction that accompanied racial justice protests in metro areas across the country a central focus of his reelection campaign, blaming the unrest on Democratic leaders and pledging to be the “law and order” president.

Trump has also sought to tie Biden, a moderate, to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and has questioned the former vice president's mental fitness to be president. 

Biden has made criticism of the president’s response to the novel coronavirus, which has killed nearly 200,000 Americans, a main theme of his campaign, while portraying himself as a unifier and healer for the country.

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An ABC News-Washington Post poll released earlier this week found Biden with a 57 percent-41 percent lead over Trump in Minnesota among likely voters.

The survey also indicates that Trump’s “law and order” message is not resonating broadly in the state, with voters there trusting Biden over Trump to handle crime and safety by an 11-point margin. The poll also showed that Biden is more trusted to handle the coronavirus pandemic and equal treatment of racial groups by substantial margins. 

According to a RealClearPolitics average of polls, Biden currently has a 10-point advantage over Trump in Minnesota. The Trump campaign has broadly cast doubt on public polling of the presidential race, arguing that the surveys underestimate the president’s support.

Trump was last in Minnesota in August, during the Democratic convention, delivering political remarks to supporters at airports in Minneapolis and Mankato. Biden’s visit marks the former vice president’s first such campaign appearance in Minnesota. Biden has ramped up his in-person travel since Labor Day after previously favoring largely virtual campaign appearances due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a similar scenario, top surrogates for each campaign appeared in Minnesota on the same day earlier this month.

On Sept. 8, Jill Biden, the Democratic nominee’s wife, visited an elementary school in Prior Lake, while Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, hosted a “Make America Great Again” event in Duluth. 

Updated 12:33 p.m.