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Biden pushes into Trump territory

The late offensive underscores Biden’s polling strength, with his comfortable leads in core battleground states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin affording him the opportunity to go big across the map.

Biden on Tuesday made campaign stops across Georgia, a state that hasn’t gone for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1992. Georgia is also home to two hotly contested Senate and House races this year.

Beginning in the small, rural town of Warm Springs, Biden laid out his closing message, saying he would mold himself after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and unite the country after what he described as Trump’s divisive leadership.

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Biden later hit a get-out-the-vote event in Atlanta, where he’ll need to run up the score to have a chance to win the state.

Later this week, Biden will swing through Iowa, a state Trump carried by 9 points in 2016 but where polls now show tight presidential and Senate races. His running mate, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration Trump campaign appeals dismissal of Pennsylvania election challenge Pressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win MORE (D-Calif.), has stops planned in Texas, where a half-dozen House seats are up for grabs.

Flush with cash, the Biden campaign is going on the air with new television ads in Texas, Georgia, Iowa and Ohio, another state that few believed would be in play for Democrats when the 2020 cycle began.

Whether he wins or loses the right-leaning states, Biden’s margins will matter as Democrats seek to flip the Senate and pick up House and statehouse seats in Republican strongholds.

Democrats would also like to repudiate Trump, not just beat him narrowly.

“It’s pretty clear the Biden campaign is in a much stronger position going into this final week,” said Joe Trippi, a veteran of nine Democratic presidential campaigns.

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“There is a lot of Democratic angst because people are still haunted by the ghosts of 2016. But Biden’s leads are strong and stable in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and they’re not skimping on the airwaves anywhere, so it makes sense for Biden to be aggressive in this final week. Whether you win these states or not, maybe you help Democrats pick up a statehouse or a House seat or a Senate seat somewhere by visiting these places.”

There are some risks.

Biden does not need to win Texas, Georgia, Ohio or Iowa, as Trump does.

While the overall polling is abysmal for Trump, wins in Pennsylvania and Florida would help him piece together the unlikely combination of states he needs for an Electoral College victory.

Biden’s campaign will have a lot to answer for if it spends the final hours before Election Day reaching for a blowout but fails to seal the deal in the core battlegrounds that he must win to have a chance.

“I invite Joe Biden to expend his limited campaign travel on states he’s not going to win in 2020,” Trump campaign manager Bill StepienBill StepienFormer Trump campaign chief Parscale reportedly planning to write a book The Memo: Trump hits out as tide moves for Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory MORE told reporters on a conference call this week.

Biden told reporters he’s “not overconfident about anything.”

“Fortunately, we’re able to compete in a way we haven’t been able to compete before in all of these states,” Biden said, referring to his fundraising advantange.

Georgia looks like a pure toss-up at the moment, although many analysts say Democrats need to first prove they can win statewide before pushing it into the perennial swing state column.

A new CBS News-YouGov survey released this week found Trump and Biden tied. A WSBTV-Landmark poll put Trump ahead by 4 points, and an Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey put Biden ahead by 1 point.

Trump suffers in Georgia from the same phenomena that is dogging him everywhere: Moderates and independents are flocking to Biden, and the Democratic nominee is seen as the better candidate to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump’s management of the coronavirus will be a key part of Biden’s closing message.

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“Think about all those who have died,” Biden said Tuesday in Warm Springs. “They were giving their all while their president was giving up.”

Harris campaigned in Georgia last week.

In addition to the 16 electoral votes up for grabs there, Republicans are expending enormous resources to defend seats held by Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler to continue to self-isolate after conflicting COVID-19 test results Top aide: Biden expected to visit Georgia in push to boost Ossoff, Warnock MORE (R-Ga.). Democrats are looking to flip the suburban Atlanta seat currently held by Rep. Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallMcCarthy guarantees GOP will take back House in 2022 Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day Bustos won't seek to chair DCCC again in wake of 2020 results MORE (R-Ga.) and to defend freshman Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathRecord number of Black women elected to Congress in 2020 McBath wins rematch against Handel in Georgia House race Democrats poised for House gains with boost from Trump-won districts MORE (D-Ga.), who represents former Republican Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE’s old district.

“Having them here puts a gold star next to Georgia and says we’re officially a battleground state,” said Howard Franklin, a veteran Democratic operative. “The 1-2 punch of Biden-Harris has given us the best combination of keeping some of these down-ballot contests competitive. The pairing has worked out really well, and it’s put pressure on the Trump campaign and Republicans to compete statewide.”

Of Biden’s offensive plays, Texas is the heaviest lift. Trump leads by 3 points in the RealClearPolitics average.

But Biden’s margins will matter in Texas whether he wins it or not. If Trump slips by with a narrow 1 or 2 point victory, it could be a bloodbath for down-ballot Republicans in tough battles, including Reps. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyThe Hill's Morning Report - Too close to call Chip Roy fends off challenge from Wendy Davis to win reelection in Texas Democrats seek wave to bolster House majority MORE, Van TaylorVan TaylorVan Taylor wins reelection to Texas seat held by GOP since 1968 Live updates: Democrats seek to extend House advantage Biden pushes into Trump territory MORE and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Pentagon prepping for Trump order to draw down in Afghanistan, Iraq | Questions swirl after DOD purge | 10th service member killed by COVID-19 Former VOA producer sues US global media agency over termination Record number of women to serve in the next Congress MORE. Republicans are also defending several open seats due to a spate of retirements.

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Biden has not revealed any plans to campaign in Texas himself, although Harris will visit this week and the campaign is up with ads in the state.

Texas and Iowa both have competitive Senate races, with Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTop GOP senator: Biden should be getting intel briefings GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results Trump keeps tight grip on GOP amid divisions MORE (R-Texas) trying to hang on and Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Memo: Trump plows ahead with efforts to overturn election More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Peggy Noonan: 'Bogus dispute' by Trump 'doing real damage' MORE (R-Iowa) looking extremely vulnerable. Iowa also has three House seats in play, with two of them currently held by Republicans.

“The Biden campaign has the money,” Trippi said. “Why not go try to win those states or pick up a statehouse, some House seats or some Senate seats? It’s a nice position to be in, and that’s the difference between this year and 2016. It’s a pretty amazing sea change.”