CINCINNATI – Joe Biden made two campaign stops Monday in Ohio, attempting to expand the battleground map and keep President Donald Trump on the defensive in a state long thought to be out of reach for Democrats after Trump's wide margin of victory there four years ago.
The Democratic presidential nominee stressed an economic message and touted his own record while casting Trump as having abandoned working-class voters who helped him win Rust Belt states that put him in the White House in 2016. The president's reelection campaign countered that few expected Trump to win Ohio so comfortably four years ago and that he would repeat a similar upset on Election Day.
In Toledo, Biden addressed United Auto Workers who represent a local General Motors powertrain plant. The former vice president spoke in a parking lot with about 30 American-made cars and trucks arrayed nearby, and he struck a decidedly populist note, praising unions and arguing that he represented working-class values while the Republican Trump cared only about impressing the Ivy League and country club set.
“I don't measure people by the size of their bank account,” Biden said. “You and I measure people by the strength of their character, their honesty, their courage.”
Biden highlighted his role as vice president as the Obama administration rescued the U.S. auto industry after the 2008 financial collapse. President George W. Bush signed the aid package after the 2008 election, but the Obama administration managed most of the rescue program.
“The auto industry that supported 1 in 8 Ohioans was on the brink,” Biden said at the drive-in rally, eliciting horn honks from people listening from their vehicles. “Barack and I bet on you, and it paid off.”
Trump was resuming campaign travel for the first time since testing positive for the coronavirus, with a Florida rally. And Vice Present Mike Pence staged his own event in Ohio's capital, Columbus, concluding remarks at Savko & Sons, an excavation company that hosted Obama at one of its job sites in 2010, shortly before Biden took the stage in Toledo.
“You said yes to President Donald Trump in 2016, and I know the Buckeye State's going to say yes to four more years,” Pence told the crowd.
In a nod to Senate confirmation hearings on Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court – where Biden's running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, was participating remotely – Pence declared to applause that “We're going to fill that seat.”
He also noted that Biden has refused to say whether he will heed the calls of some progressive Democrats who would like to see the party expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court, should Democrats win the White House and the Senate on Nov. 3 while retaining control of the House.
Biden hasn't answered questions about whether he would be open to expanding the court. He says doing so would be playing politics by Trump's rules.