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Biden to campaign in Minnesota as GOP ups pressure in 'sleeper' state

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot FireEye finds evidence Chinese hackers exploited Microsoft email app flaw since January Biden officials to travel to border amid influx of young migrants MORE will travel to Minnesota on Friday to rev up Democratic voters on the same day President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE plans to be in the state, which is emerging as a late-stage battleground.

Biden is scheduled to participate in a drive-in event in St. Paul where his campaign says he will “discuss bringing Americans together to address the crises facing the country and winning the battle for the soul of the nation.”

He will speak at 3:45 p.m. local time and urge Minnesotans to vote, his campaign announced Thursday. 

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Trump is planning to hold a “Make America Great Again” rally the Rochester airport at 5 p.m. Friday. 

The state, which has voted reliably for Democrats in recent presidential elections, is emerging as a late-stage battleground as Trump looks to steal blue states from his Democratic opponent like he did in 2016, when he unexpectedly won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

Trump lost Minnesota to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton brings up 'Freedom Fries' to mock 'cancel culture' Edie Falco to play Hillary Clinton in Clinton impeachment series White House defends Biden's 'Neanderthal thinking' remark on masks MORE by fewer than 45,000 votes in 2016 despite paying little attention to the state.

He has since visited it multiple times. 

Senate Republicans also think they have a chance of upsetting Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithSenator notices mismatching shoes at trial: 'I had a lot on my mind' Overnight Energy: Biden administration delays Trump rollback of migratory bird protections | Democrats seek to block further Arctic drilling | Democratic senator pushes for clean electricity standard Democratic senator pushes for clean electricity standard MORE (D-Minn.), who has been generally regarded as a safe incumbent and whose race is rated “Solid D” by the Cook Political Report.

Senate Majoirty Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneRon Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Rick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill MORE (R-S.D.) on Wednesday called Minnesota a “sleeper.”

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“I think that people are looking at the security issues if you live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs,” Thune told The Hill.

He thinks Trump’s law-and-order message will play well with suburban voters concerned about the rioting and looting in the city after the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis in late May. 

Paul Goren, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, said Trump “came really, really close” to winning Minnesota four years ago.

“Minnesota has a long history of this kind of independent streak and support for populism,” he said, pointing to former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura’s surprising win in the 1998 gubernatorial race. “In a normal election cycle, that sort of populist streak and anti-incumbent tendency — that’s always kind of a wild card."

“I think it’s less of a wild card in the current election environment because Trump has been the incumbent, he has a record to run on,” he added.  

A Survey USA poll conducted from Oct. 23 to 27 for KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities showed Biden with a 5-point lead, 47 percent to 42 percent.

Goren said Trump has been hurt by surging COVID-19 infections in the state.

“The pandemic is spiking in Minnesota,” he said. “Our numbers in Minnesota have been trending in the wrong direction the past several weeks.”