Trump, Biden to campaign in Minnesota as early voting begins

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[September 18, 2020]    (Reuters) - President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, will both travel to the key Midwestern state of Minnesota on Friday, as early voting begins there ahead of November's election.

Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., September 16, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Trump, who trails Biden in national polls, is playing offense in Minnesota in a bid to capture the state he narrowly lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 while winning neighboring Wisconsin.

But recent opinion polls in Minnesota have given Biden a solid lead; the poll-tracking website RealClearPolitics showed Biden up by an average of 10.2 points as of Thursday.

Biden's polling advantage underscores the extent to which the current electoral map favors the former vice president. He leads in all three former industrial "Rust Belt" states that Trump flipped from the Democratic column on his way to victory in 2016: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally at an airport in Bemidji, Minnesota, in the evening. Earlier in the day, Biden will tour a union training center in Duluth before delivering a speech.

The state was the flashpoint for a national reckoning on race relations, when George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for minutes even after he appeared to lose consciousness.

The killing prompted widespread civil unrest that has lasted for months and further rattled a nation already besieged by the coronavirus pandemic and the attendant economic downturn.

Trump has responded to the demonstrations by vowing to maintain "law and order" while portraying many of the protesters as far-left radicals who would be further empowered by a Biden victory in the Nov. 3 election.

Biden has denounced the violence at some protests while expressing support for the protesters' objections to racism and police brutality. He has blamed Trump's divisive rhetoric for inflaming the situation.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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