MINNEAPOLIS — Former second lady Jill Biden and Donald Trump Jr. both campaigned for their presidential candidate relatives in Minnesota on Wednesday, underscoring the state’s rise as a pivotal Midwestern battleground in the race for the presidency this fall.
Jill Biden stopped at Jeffers Pond Elementary School in Prior Lake as part of a back-to-school tour through swing states on behalf of Joe Biden’s campaign for president. She said the former vice president, who was campaigning in Michigan on Wednesday, is likely to make a campaign stop in Minnesota before Election Day.
“It’s looking good but we’re not taking any vote for granted,” Jill Biden said. “We’re all going to be here fighting for every single vote.”
Donald Trump Jr. had an afternoon stop in Winona and early evening stop planned for Duluth.
A Morning Consult poll released Wednesday showed Joe Biden with a five-point edge over President Donald Trump in Minnesota, but his lead has narrowed from previous polls. Trump came within 45,000 votes of beating Hillary Clinton in Minnesota four years ago, a state that hasn’t elected a Republican for president since Richard Nixon in 1972.
Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in the state in August. The Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala Harris, appeared briefly last month on a Minnesota-focused virtual roundtable.
Masked and sitting 6 feet apart inside the Prior Lake gymnasium, Jill Biden and roughly a dozen educators and DFL elected officials discussed the challenges of starting the school year in the midst of a global pandemic.
Jeffers Pond teacher LeAnn Weikle said distance learning made eight to 10 hour days stretch to 12 or 16 hours long, and she still felt behind helping students connect. She said every student needs an iPad to learn in a distance or hybrid setting.
“Help us have the resources that we need,” she said. “There are a lot of ways our government can help us.”
A community college professor, Jill Biden said she and her husband will be partners to schools at the federal level, giving them the funding they need to safely reopen their classrooms. But she stressed that school officials need to “follow the science.”
“If the doctors are telling us we need to shut down, we need to shut down,” she said. “There’s nothing more precious than America’s children, and we should keep them all safe.”
Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan criticized Biden’s visit as “photo-op” at a time when children need to get back into their classrooms. School districts in Minnesota are basing their reopening model on the prevalence of COVID-19 in their communities, staffing levels and other safety considerations.
©2020 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)