HomePoliticsWhile Trump is on trial, Biden goes to Pennsylvania

While Trump is on trial, Biden goes to Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON – While President Donald Trump is in his hometown of New York this week for the start of his criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records, President Biden plans to campaign in his hometown of Scranton in battleground Pennsylvania.

Biden’s counterprogramming itinerary includes three days of economy-focused events in Scranton, Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia area, as his campaign keeps a spotlight on Trump’s position on abortion.

The result will be dueling images of the two candidates that Biden’s allies hope will speak volumes to voters, even as the president remains silent on his Republican rival’s legal troubles.

“We’re basically just leaving it alone,” a Biden aide said of the Trump trial that began this week.

Biden’s campaign speech in Scranton on Tuesday will revolve around Tax Day on Monday, Biden aides said. They said the president will argue that Trump, if elected, would provide tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class.

“We think Trump is quite vulnerable on that front,” a Biden aide said.

But it is the two candidates’ differences on abortion that the Biden team sees as a deciding factor that could put him over the top in the November election, Biden allies say.

“The campaign thinks the abortion issue is the margin of victory they need,” said one Biden ally.

Nearly all of the ads the Biden campaign is currently airing mention abortion, according to a campaign official.

Biden’s team also moved faster than usual last week to respond to Trump’s comments on abortion.

When Trump said Monday that the issue should be left to the states and took credit for overturning Roe vs. Wade by the Supreme Court, Biden cleared time in his calendar at an unusually early hour that morning to pre-record a response that would be ready to go.

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“You can’t get Joe Biden’s time this early,” a campaign official said, underscoring how important the issue is to the president.

After Trump said Friday that “we broke Roe v. Wade” and that the decision to leave the issue to the states was working “very brilliantly,” Vice President Kamala Harris quickly added a response to her pre-planned campaign speech in Arizona , following the state Supreme Court’s ruling that a near-total 1864 ban on abortion is enforceable.

Now Biden’s team is planning a way to flag Florida’s six-week abortion ban that will take effect in the coming weeks, according to a Biden aide. The aide said voters will also hear more directly from the president about abortion, with statements and events.

Harris has been the most outspoken member of the administration on abortion, a strategy that is expected to continue.

While Biden aides are determined to ensure that Trump fails to achieve moderation or take a dark position on abortion as he faces a mainstream electorate, they also want to try to put the former president on the defensive posts on economic issues because he is concerned about abortion. .

Biden’s campaign has long believed that the most effective strategy against Trump is to focus solely on him as a candidate for president, and not as a candidate at the center of a legal drama. Biden aides say that won’t change this week, even with the expectation of general media coverage of the start of the first of several potential trials Trump will face.

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“The contrast that President Biden will create is that he has your back, and if that’s the message that breaks through, then that’s what moves the needle,” said a Democratic strategist close to the White House. “And he is greatly helped by the fact that Donald Trump is defending himself in court.”

Not all Biden allies agree with the quiet approach to the criminal trial against Trump.

“It’s outdated thinking to rely on these old norms and recycled clichés of communication like ‘don’t give it oxygen’ or ‘stay out of the way’ while an opponent self-implodes,” said another Democratic strategist. “Biden must go on the attack, engage and get ahead of the Trump circus.”

Former President Donald Trump travels to Atlanta, Georgia (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump travels to Atlanta, Georgia (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Trump’s trial in New York is expected to last six to eight weeks. He must be present in person every weekday except Wednesdays, when the trial does not take place. Trump campaign officials have said the former president plans to hold rallies and campaign events on Wednesday and Saturday.

Ahead of the start of the trial, the Trump campaign has raised money for its legal troubles, warning supporters in a text message on Saturday that “AMERICA will cease to exist in 48 hours.”

While in Scranton, Biden will revive a key economic argument from the 2020 campaign — that he is focused on the needs of Americans like those in Scranton, while Trump is trying to deliver on those who can afford to to live on Park Avenue in Manhattan. At a town hall-style event near Scranton in the final weeks of the 2020 campaign, Biden argued that “guys like Trump, who inherited and squandered everything they inherited, are the people I’ve always had a problem with.”

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On Tuesday, he will highlight measures in his 2025 budget proposal that the White House says would benefit the middle class, such as raising taxes on billionaires, Biden aides said.

Underscoring his point, Biden aides said he is expected to reemphasize at a recent private dinner that Trump told donors he will keep their taxes low.

The president will deliver different versions of that message during his other stops in what he and his campaign see as potentially the pivotal state in the 2024 elections. Pennsylvania, but also Wisconsin and Michigan – the Democrats’ so-called blue wall – have given Biden four years ago over the electoral threshold of 270 votes.

“It’s all about the blue wall,” a Biden campaign official said. “If we can’t win those states, we lose.”

After Tuesday’s event in Scranton, Biden will hold an official event at the White House focused on manufacturing in the Pittsburgh region, which the president has long seen as the home base for his pro-union economic policies. He will end the week with a campaign event in the Philadelphia area, a place where he often focuses on what he believes is at stake for American democracy in November.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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