Biden heads to Wisconsin to meet voters — and troll Trump

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is racing into yet another battleground state Wednesday, continuing to push a contrast with Donald Trump on economic policy as his own reelection campaign readies a new $14 million advertising blitz aimed in part at Black, Latino and Asian American voters.

Biden is traveling to Racine, Wisconsin, where he’ll highlight a decision by Microsoft to build a $3.3 billion data center that is expected to create roughly 2,000 jobs. It’s also the same spot where Trump, to much fanfare, lauded a plan by Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn plan to build a $10 billion manufacturing facility that was supposed to eventually employ 10,000 people. Except it was never completed.

Conscious of that history, Microsoft’s president Brad Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press that Microsoft had a “steadfast commitment to under-promising and over-delivering” and praised the Biden administration and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers for economic policies that set the stage for the developments announced Wednesday.

Trump’s campaign didn’t address Foxconn, but the former president often says the economy was in a much better position when he was in office, and it will be again should he win.

Meanwhile, Biden’s reelection team is sharpening their outreach to minority voters on the airwaves, with the fresh, seven-figure digital and television ad campaign launching Wednesday that follows the $30 million effort that began after his State of the Union address in early March. One of the ads that is a part of the fresh campaign will also be released Wednesday and focuses on Trump’s failed yet determined push to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

After his speech, Biden is making a campaign stop to speak with Black voters about the stakes of the November election.

The Biden campaign wants to capitalize on the fundraising advantage it’s enjoyed over Trump, hoping to bury them on the airwaves while amassing significant resources on the ground in key battleground states to force Republicans to play catch-up much later in the year.

“Equally important as our own historic investments is the complete lack of investment on the other side,” Michael Tyler, the Biden campaign’s communications director, told reporters. “Trump’s paid media strategy can only be described as anemic and inefficient.”

A significant portion of the $14 million campaign starting Wednesday will go into Black and Hispanic media, as well as Asian American print and radio, according to the campaign. Campaign officials also said Biden will continue to do targeted interviews with media that serve primarily minority audiences, while the campaign plans to launch more coalition groups in May that focus on specific blocs of voters. So far, the Biden campaign has started groups to engage women, Latinos and educators.

By the end of May, Biden’s reelection effort will have more than 200 offices and roughly 500 staff in place, according to Dan Kanninen, the campaign’s battleground director. Those figures include offices in areas that traditionally haven’t seen investments by Democrats in pockets of Michigan, Arizona and North Carolina.

“We’re showing up in the community every day and attempting to earn every vote,” said Quentin Fulks, the Biden campaign’s principal deputy campaign manager. “Donald Trump and his team are doing none of that.”

Though Biden’s remarks in Racine are part of a formal White House event, Fulks said the stop will “highlight the stark contrast between the progress he’s made for Wisconsin’s families and Donald Trump’s failures.”

Microsoft’s Smith said the first phase of the new data center complex will bring an influx of 2,300 mostly construction jobs by the end of the year.

While Microsoft has been ramping up AI-driven data center construction around the world, “this one is more important than many because there is more land and ultimately access to power available,” said Smith, who lived in the area where the center is being built as a child.

Once in operation, however, even the most powerful data centers typically employ a relatively small group of full-time employees to oversee them. Microsoft will have about 500, pulling from highly skilled workers in the corridor between Milwaukee and Chicago, Smith said.

However, he argued that the bigger impact for the region would be in the technology itself and broader investments in preparing the Upper Midwest for its impacts.

“This is about the competitiveness of manufacturing in places like Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Ohio,” Smith said.

Racine County is a critical location; all but five of the past 33 winning presidential candidates carried it. Trump is one of the five; he won Racine County, but lost the election. Biden was the first Democrat since 1976 to win Wisconsin without carrying Racine County.

Polls, including one from the Marquette University Law School last month, show the race to be about even in Wisconsin, a state where four of the past six presidential elections have been decided by less than a percentage point. Biden won by just under 21,000 votes in 2020.

Republicans point to both state and national polls showing that their voters are more enthused than Democrats. In Wisconsin’s presidential primary a month ago, 18,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted.


Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Wisconsin and Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.

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