WARREN, Mich. (AP) — Joe Biden traveled to suburban Detroit on Wednesday to make a direct appeal to blue-collar workers who might have voted Republican four years ago but now regret it — attempting to rebuild the once fabled Democratic “blue wall” that crumbled and helped catapult Donald Trump to the White House.
The former vice president’s first coronavirus-era campaign trips beyond his home in Delaware have been to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, an indication of how closely Biden’s electoral prospects are tied to winning back those formerly reliably Democratic states.
Biden pledged to rewrite tax codes to reward U.S. companies that invest in domestic manufacturing while imposing penalties on those that send jobs to other countries. He spoke outside a United Auto Workers regional office in Warren, flanked by an array of U.S.-made cars including Fords, Jeeps and Chevrolets.
“I’m not looking to punish American businesses but there’s a better way,” Biden said. “Make it in Michigan. Make it in America. Invest in the communities and the workers in places like Warren.”
He noted that a local General Motors transmission plant closed last year despite Trump’s pledges to protect Michigan jobs, adding, “I bet the workers around here weren’t all that comforted by Trump’s empty promises.”
“Under Donald Trump, Michigan lost auto jobs even before COVID hit,” Biden said. “And what about offshoring? Has Trump delivered on stopping companies from shipping American jobs overseas? You already know the answer to that. Of course not.”
Last week, Biden went to Wisconsin and was followed quickly by running mate Kamala Harris, who held Labor Day events there. Biden hit Pennsylvania during the holiday and will be back on Friday.
Trump is countering with his own trip to Michigan on Thursday and also will be in Pennsylvania himself the following day.
Though the Biden campaign often emphasizes that it sees multiple ways to secure the 270 Electoral College votes it needs to win in November, the quickest path runs through Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“If Biden wins any of them — but particularly any two, with some of the other states that are in play — it’s pretty impossible for Trump to win the Electoral College,” said veteran Democratic strategist Joe Trippi.
Biden’s aides believe his focus on the economy and Trump’s handling of the coronavirus will resonate with key voters nationwide but particularly in states like Michigan, which took one of the sharpest hits nationally from the pandemic.
The state’s unemployment rate spiked at 24% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It has since recovered to 8.7%, but Michigan has nearly 414,500 fewer jobs than it did when Trump was inaugurated.