Donald Trump distorted Joe Biden’s description of the Democratic Party under his leadership, telling supporters on Wednesday night in Minnesota the former vice president “owns the socialism” the president says defines his party.

a group of people on a stage in front of a crowd© Provided by The Independent
The president made another stop in the state in less than two weeks despite trailing there, according to multiple polls, by around 10 points. He began the rally by predicting a victory before hammering his general election foe and trying to link him to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. He uttered false statements about his own record and Mr Biden’s proposals. But he did not offer a clear denouncement of white supremacists after twice sidestepping pointed questions on the matter in the last two days.

What the Democratic presidential nominee actually said during their raucous first debate was: “I am the Democratic Party right now.” (The party’s nominee becomes its leader, at least until Election Day, and sets its official policy platform.)

During the Tuesday night debate in swing state Ohio, the president tried contending Mr Biden supports the “Green New Deal,” an environmental plan experts say would require a $3trn makeover of the entire US economy. The former VP told Mr Trump he supports “the Biden plan” to address environmental issues, a more moderate blueprint.

Using a word Mr Biden used for him, at one point, Mr Trump said of a potential Biden presidency: “Can you imagine if this clown gets in?”

The president stepped onstage at the rally for his first extended public appearance – he held a closed-door fundraiser in Shorewood before heading to an airport in Duluth to greet his adoring loyalists – since his angry and aggressive performance in the first general election debate the night before.

After ripping into his general election foe, the president dropped a phallic quip as he introducted his party’s candidate for the state’s 5th Congressional District seat: “A man with the greatest name in politics, Lacey Johnson.”

At Tuesday’s debate, he again declined to clearly denounce white supremacist groups, including the Proud Boys. As he left the White House on Wednesday, he again did not say “white supremacists” when he vaguely denounced “any form of any of that.” Some members of his party, in a rare move, distanced themselves from his repeated refusals. Senate Majority Whip John Thune called on the president to “clear it up.”

But a night later, after declaring victory earlier in the day despite multiple polls saying voters deemed his rival the clear winner, Mr Trump contended he “held Joe Biden accountable” for his “47 years in Washington.”

Great Lakes gamble

Mr Trump’s midweek stop in the Great Lakes State was something of a long-shot try at trying to flip a state he lost narrowly four years ago. It was his second rally there in 12 days.

Most sites tracking polls in battlegrounds no longer include Minnesota. But political strategists have told The Independent they believe Mr Trump’s rallies and ad buys in the state are designed to force the Biden campaign to also devote more resources there.

RealClearPolitics’ average of polls there give Mr Biden a 9.4-point lead with less than two months to go, but Mr Trump, as he did during his 18 September rally and again on Wednesday night, predicted he will finish the job he started in 2016. One survey, concluded on 18 September by the Washington Post and ABC News, gave the former vice president a commanding 16-point lead.

That makes Minnesota something of an outlier in the Midwest, where Mr Trump had been chipping away at his rival’s leads. Mr Trump had cut into Mr Biden’s leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states in late-July. But after more recent controversial comments, including suggesting he might not oversee a peaceful transition to Mr Biden if he loses in November, the president has again lost ground in the Rust Belt, according to new polling.

All evidence before last week suggested the president’s law-and-order message in the face of sometimes-violent protests over racial inequality and police violence against black people was resonating there.

Despite the myriad controversies and self-inflicted wounds of his term, the president remains within striking distance of Mr Biden.

For instance, one new poll out Tuesday put the former VP up 10 percentage points in Pennsylvania, which experts say Mr Biden must win. But that survey came with an eyebrow-raising 5-point margin of error. Notably, Mr Trump either leads or is within three percentage points in a list of other swing states: Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Georgia and Iowa.

For his part, Mr Biden also hit the road after the first debate, departing on a train whistle-stop tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania. He will be in Michigan on Friday.

“He did what I expected him to do last night,” Mr Biden said of the president in Alliance, Ohio. “I think the phrase was: ‘Now he can become really vicious’ – that was his phrase.”

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