While Trump is stuck in court, Biden kicks off Pennsylvania campaign swing

The battleground state has been narrowly won by both Biden and Trump.

April 16, 2024, 5:09 AM

President Joe Biden on Tuesday kicks off a multi-day campaign swing through Pennsylvania, in Scranton, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia -- in what his campaign hopes to be a messaging contrast with Donald Trump as the former president goes on trial.

Biden, whom early polls show is in a close race with his predecessor, plans to focus on tax policy versus Trump, including in a stop at the United Steelworkers' headquarters.

During a meeting with the Czech prime minister, Petr Fiala, on Monday, Biden shook his head "no" when asked by a reporter whether or not he would be watching Trump's trial.

Rather, he plans to be "talking about the issues" that matter most to Americans, his campaign says, echoing what the White House has long said.

"Donald Trump and his team are gonna have to speak to his legal issues," said Biden spokesman Michael Tyler, who also attacked Trump's message of "revenge and retribution," which he said is "going to be a continuation of the contrast the American people have been able to see since this campaign began."

On a call with reporters on Monday, Tyler cited Biden's personal ties to Pennsylvania, saying he sees the world from his "kitchen table" where he grew up in Scranton -- while, Tyler argued, Trump sees the world from his "country club" at Mar-a-Lago, a reversal of Trump's frequent boasts that his business success makes him a better leader.

President Joe Biden speaks at the Darlington Municipal Complex, in Darlington, Pa., Feb. 16, 2024.
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"Nowhere is that contrast of world views on display more clearly than when it comes to who each candidate believes should be paying more in taxes and who they believe should be paying less," Tyler said.

While the president regularly stops in Philadelphia, at the heart of a key battleground state, this is the first time he has visited Scranton since August.

His campaign wants to provide something of a split-screen with Trump as the former president's historic New York trial is underway in which he's accused of falsifying business records related to hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden wave after he spoke at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa., Jan. 5, 2024.
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Trump denies the claims, including the alleged affair, and says he's being politically persecuted, which the district attorney rejects.

He has regularly attacked Biden over high inflation, immigration and more, labeling Biden as the country's "worst president."

Biden's campaign claims Trump plans to give billionaires tax breaks during his second term, while under Biden "nobody making less than $400,000 a year would see their taxes go up ... [and] he would prioritize extending additional tax benefits to help working Americans in areas where they really need it," said Brian Deese, a senior adviser.

In a memo, Biden's campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, highlighted the inroads the campaign says it has made in Pennsylvania, a swing state that Biden won by about a 1% margin in 2020, four years after Trump won by slightly less 1%.

President Joe Biden, alongside Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker (2nd L), takes part in a service event at Philabundance, a non-profit food bank to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Philadelphia, Jan. 15, 2024.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Among other assets, the Biden campaign cited seven offices in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. In the month of March, they opened 14 offices around the state in a single week and engaged 1,700 volunteers, they said.

"This election is going to be one by earning and not just asking for each American's vote," said Deese, the adviser. "We're obviously looking at Pennsylvania right now, where the president is spending the week campaigning -- and it's a textbook example of how we're going to earn those votes."