Biden’s whistle-stop: Democratic nominee taking post-debate train swing

Biden to campaign in key battlegrounds the day after Tuesday’s first debate with Trump

CLEVELAND – Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s hitting the rails once the first presidential debate’s over.

Biden’s campaign announced on Monday that the former vice president and his wife Jill Biden will travel across eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania on a train tour Wednesday, hours after the first showdown between Biden and President Trump.

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A woman carries a table while setting up outside of the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University ahead of the first presidential debate between Republican candidate President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A woman carries a table while setting up outside of the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University ahead of the first presidential debate between Republican candidate President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The campaign touts that Biden will “highlight how he will build our economy back better for working families, not the super-wealthy and corporations.”

The trip – with multiple stops – will be the former vice president’s busiest in-person itinerary since the middle of March, when in-person campaigning was curtailed as the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation.

Biden resumed doing limited, small-scale in-person campaigning starting in late May, in his home state of Delaware and neighboring Pennsylvania. Since late August, following the presidential conventions, the former vice president has been flying to numerous battleground states, but his travels have been sparse compared to the president, who has dramatically picked up his campaign pace the past month.

Taking the rails on Wednesday will shine a spotlight on Biden’s three decades as a senator from Delaware, when he would take an Amtrak train each morning to the nation’s capital, and return each evening, to be with his family. His commuting earned him the nickname “Amtrak Joe.”

And the states in which he’ll be stumping – Ohio and his native Pennsylvania – are crucial general election battleground states.

Ohio has long played a crucial role in presidential elections.  But four years ago, Trump ended up swamping 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 8 points, flipping the state from blue to red and winning Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. Trump’s margin of victory was the largest by any presidential candidate in nearly three decades.

Fast forward four years and Ohio – at the beginning of this presidential cycle  -- wasn’t expected to be a battleground in the White House race.

But an average of the latest public opinion polls in Ohio compiled by Real Clear Politics shows Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a 3.3 point edge over the president. That includes a Fox News poll conducted Sept. 20-23 and released Thursday that had the former vice president topping Trump 50% to 45% among likely voters in Ohio.

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An average of the latest polls in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania compiled by Real Clear Politics indicates a close contest – with Biden edging the president by 4.7 points. The new average includes a Fox News poll released Thursday that showed the former vice president with a seven-point lead over Trump.

Pennsylvania – along with Michigan and Wisconsin – had been carried by the Democrats in presidential elections for a quarter-century. But Trump narrowly edged Clinton in all three states four years ago, helping him win the White House. An average of the final polls on the eve of the 2016 election gave Clinton with a 2.2 point edge over Trump in the Keystone State, but Trump edged the Democrat by seven-tenths of a percent to capture Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.

Biden – who was born and spent his first 10 years in Scranton, Pa. – retains strong ties to the state. During his three and a half decades representing neighboring Delaware in the Senate, he earned the nickname "Pennsylvania's third senator."