President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden held two very different campaign events in a COVID-19-wracked Wisconsin Friday, each to appeal to the state’s voters just days ahead of the election.
Trump campaigned at the Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, drawing thousands of people, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. There, he argued Democratic nominee Joe Biden would hurt the economy. Trump also criticized polls that show him trailing Biden in Wisconsin.
First Lady Melania Trump also spoke to voters in West Bend on Saturday, where she criticized Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., for being “career politicians.” She said Democrats are politicizing the pandemic and instilling fear.
Trump is also scheduled to campaign in Kenosha Monday night, the day before the election.
Trump’s in-person rallies come as Wisconsin continues to grapple with high COVID-19 activity. According to state Department of Health Services statistics, all but two of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have “very high” case activity levels. About 87 percent of ICU beds and about 85 percent of all hospital beds are in use in Wisconsin.
On Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers announced 71 new community testing sites opening in October which will be available through Dec. 10 and staffed by the Wisconsin National Guard.
At a news conference Friday, Evers said that state health officials cannot dictate how either campaign operates in Wisconsin, but said “one campaign is sure the hell more safe than the other,” according to WPR.
Ahead of Trump’s Green Bay rally, Green Bay hospital systems released a joint statement saying the in-person event could set back efforts in fighting the virus.
“It is more important now than ever to avoid large crowds, especially here in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where we are seeing some of the most rapid spread of COVID-19 in the United States,” the statement read, according to WBAY.
In contrast, Biden spoke through a mask to a small, socially-distanced crowd in a hangar at the Mitchell International Airport. His visit to Milwaukee marks his third visit to Wisconsin. Biden criticized Trump’s response to the pandemic and said trade wars hurt the dairy industry and caused layoffs, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also stumped for Biden Friday in a virtual event for UW-Madison students. Sanders called Trump a “pathological liar” and supported Biden’s policies on health care and climate change.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., who represents Madison, urged students at the event to not rely on polling numbers and vote.
Polls show Biden leading Trump in Wisconsin. A New York Times/Siena College poll released Sunday shows Biden leading Trump by 11 points. An ABC/Washington Post poll released Oct. 28 showed Biden leading by 17 points, surprising some experts. FiveThirtyEight said the poll adheres to “gold standard methodology.”
The final Marquette Law School poll released Oct. 28 found Biden leading by five point margin, within the poll’s margin of error.
state news writer