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

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE will travel to Minnesota on Friday to rev up Democratic voters on the same day President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts 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 and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser 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 SmithSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls Smith wins reelection in Minnesota Democrats expand Senate map, putting GOP on defense 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 ThuneTrump doubles down on Section 230 repeal after GOP pushback Congress faces late-year logjam Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense 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.”