WILMINGTON, Delaware—Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s Election Day stop in Scranton, Penn. was as sentimental as it was strategic.
It was the place where Biden learned about disciplined work as a child. And, on Tuesday, it was the city that he hoped would help secure statewide dominance against President Donald Trump.
After an introduction by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Biden thanked the volunteers through a bullhorn, waxing nostalgic about his roots and reiterating his mission to “restore the soul of the country” and return “basic decency and honor to the White House.”
By the afternoon, he was off to Philadelphia to visit the National Constitution Center, another symbolic trip that subtly conveyed his promise to rebuild what has frayed in American society under Trump.
The Biden campaign has made winning back Pennsylvania a top priority in the general election, a point enhanced by the decision to devote the final hours of his bid there. Many polls indeed indicate a very close race, with Biden narrowly ahead.
In an early afternoon briefing call with reporters, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillion expressed confidence in her team’s electoral approach to the battlegrounds, emphasizing that she expects them to perform strongly in several Midwestern states.
“As you know, we believe that Pennsylvania is a place where we’re far ahead and we feel very good about turnout already that we’re seeing all across the state today,” she said.
O’Malley Dillion hedged slightly by acknowledging that campaign officials did not technically consider it to be a must-win, grouping it similarly with larger hauls like Florida.
“We can win 270 electoral votes, even without Pennsylvania and Florida,” she said.
She spent a portion of the virtual conversation teasing out other ways to reach the number of votes Biden needs to win the presidency. “Without Pennsylvania and Florida, we still crossed that 270 threshold with Arizona, or North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, and our ‘protect’ states,” she said.
“So, very strong position. Our goal is to keep pushing in all of these states we feel so confident about the pathway we have.”
On the trail on Monday, Biden was determined to turn enough voters in another city, Monaca, on to the notion that Trump is just plain bad for them and that he has a better way out of the muck. He used words like “grit” and described middle-income households as the “backbone of America.”
As top surrogates dotted other hotspots, Biden stayed focused on the prize.
“Pennsylvania matters,” he said.