Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, paid his first visit to Minnesota of the campaign Friday.
The former vice president went on a tour of the Carpenters Training Institute in Hermantown before giving a speech before pool media.
Supporters lined the roads of Duluth ahead of his arrival, with some fans of President Donald Trump – who is giving a speech in Bemidji at 6 p.m. – also coming out to register their opposition to Biden.
Biden's main theme in the industrial heartland of Minnesota was to "reward hard work, not wealthy," with his support of the labor union movement wrapped into that message.
With the U.S. having seen record unemployment in 2020 because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Biden laying the blame solely at the feet of Trump, saying he acted far too slowly to respond to the virus and as a result caused prolonged economic pain and a devastating death toll that is now nearing 200,000 people.
Biden sought to position himself as a champion of working and middle class families, saying the president's main aim is protecting the wealthy, citing the tax bill passed in late 2017 that included significant tax cuts for higher earners.
The Democratic candidate, meanwhile, repeated his pledge that he will seek to ensure wealthy Americans "pay their fair share in taxes," while promising that no household earning less than $400,000 will see their taxes rise, while some will receive cuts.
"Unemployment is way up, fewer workers can work at the same time, economic outlook is more uncertain than it needs to be," Biden said. "Here in Minnesota there are plenty of folks that are hurting, worried about making next mortgage payment, keeping rent in check, and they see people at the top of the heap doing very well."
"Our plan is to reward hard work in America, not wealth," he said.
"We don't measure people by the size of their bank accounts," he said. "I don't look down my nose on people busting themselves to earn a living."
He slammed the president on COVID-19, comparing the death rate in the U.S. – where it's still reaching 1,000 people a day – to that north of the border in Canada, where some recent days have seen deaths in the single digits, albeit from a far smaller population.
"Again, in his own words, the president knew back in February that this was an extremely dangerous, communicable disease," Biden said, referencing the president's recent interview tapes released by Bob Woodward. "Think about it, how many people across the Iron Range, how many empty chairs ... because of his negligence and selfishness."
He referenced some of his key economic policies, including a $15-an-hour minimum wage, greater access to children, a pledge that government spending would buy only American products and use American workers and supply chains, and a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that he says is long overdue, and would include transportation projects, electric car charging stations, and high-speed broadband at every home.
"How many times has the president said his infrastructure plan is coming?" Biden said. "Just like his non existent healthcare plan that's coming next week. He has no plan.
"When I got started this wasn't a partisan issue, dealing with infrastructure, Republicans wanted to build solid infrastructure that make us No. 1 in the world just like Democrats did."
There were few Minnesota-specific references in Biden's speech, including no reference made to the death of George Floyd and the unrest that sprung up in its wake, though he has commented on this many times before and spoke at Floyd's funeral.
But he did hit Trump on another recent controversy, relating to the comments Trump allegedly made about the military in a story first reported by The Atlantic, and since corroborated by the likes of the Washington Post and Fox News, but which the president denies.
"He talks about men and women who joined the military ... as suckers and losers," Biden said.
"Remember how he talked about John McCain, a political opponent but a close friend, John McCain was no sucker, he was a hero. My son, who volunteered and spent a year in Iraq and won the Bronze Star, he wasn't a loser, or a sucker, he was a proud patriot."