Republicans and Democrats are vying for Wisconsin today, with presumed presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump holding competing events throughout the state. Earlier this afternoon, President Trump held a packed in-person campaign event in Oshkosh.
“Well hello Oshkosh! This was supposed to be a small gathering, we were supposed to have fifty people,” The President told the assembled crowd. “I wonder, is Joe Biden taping his speech too? Because, if he is, I think I’ll tape mine. How do you watch a taped speech?”
Meanwhile, over in Milwaukee, nearly all of the major speakers at the Democratic National Convention, including Biden and his recently announced vice presidential pick Kamala Harris, will be addressing the crowds virtually.
The DNC will run all this week, culminating in a Thursday event with a speech from presumed nominee Joe Biden. Many of this week’s in-person addresses will be from Wisconsin politicians, including Governor Tony Evers, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
In April, Convention officials announced that the event would be delayed from July to August. Then, as the pandemic forced the cancellation of live events throughout the country, a bulk of the convention’s programming moved online.
Originally, the convention was slated to draw about 50,000 attendees to downtown Milwaukee and infuse $200 million into the city’s economy, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
Last week, Convention organizers asked in-person participants to avoid Milwaukee’s bars and restaurants, fearing spread of the coronavirus through the convention’s limited in-person attendees.
Addressing the Democratic Black Caucus earlier today, Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes supported the decision to move the convention online.
“Unlike our current president and the legislative leadership here in Wisconsin, I’m proud to be a part of the party that always lets science and data guide our decision making, especially for an event of this magnitude,” Barnes said.
On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence will make a campaign stop in Darien, just an hour southwest of Milwaukee. Due to the pandemic, Biden hasn’t campaigned at all in Wisconsin since becoming the presumptive nominee earlier this year.
That could pose problems for his campaign, as Wisconsin shapes up to be an intensely contested state in the 2020 presidential election. In 2016, President Trump won Wisconsin and beat democoratic candidate Hilary Clinton by fewer than 23,000 votes.
Trump’s victory was the first time since 1988 that Wisconsin tilted towards a Republican presidential candidate.
Despite the pandemic, both Trump and Pence have made stops in Wisconsin in recent months. Back in June, the president toured Fincantieri Marine in Marinette and last month, Pence spoke at Ripon College.
But, Trump is still tailing Biden among Wisconsin’s voters. According to surveys from both the Marquette Law School and the UW-Madison Elections Research Center, Biden is holding a steady, five to six percent lead over Trump in the state.
“In 2016, Trump was the outsider and he was trying to take down Washington,” Burden said. “He was running against an establishment figure in Hilary Clinton and he pledged to go to Washington and ‘drain the swamp.’ Now, he’s governing and is serving as president in the swamp and has to still convince voters that he’s shaking things up, but still governing effectively.”
The DNC runs today through Thursday, with all-day programming and a slate of made–for-broadcast speeches at night. Tonight, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will take to the virtual stage to address attendees.
(Photo c/o Miwdke on WikiMedia Commons. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story indicated that Joe Biden was set to receive the Democratic nomination on Wednesday. He will actually receive the nomination the evening of Tuesday, August 18th.