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Trump To Make Campaign Stops In Minnesota And Wisconsin Amid DNC

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

President Donald Trump has no plans to give up all the spotlight to Democrats as they begin their national convention tonight. Past presidents generally let their challengers have their moment, but Trump is kicking off a four-state trip to blunt any extra momentum the Democrats may get from the convention. Today he used the occasion to attack the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't say Biden because I don't think he knows what hell is happening. I think if you mention, you know, you shouldn't have done that to Minnesota, he'll say, where's Minnesota? I don't know anything. I don't know what Minnesota is. Where is that, please?

FADEL: Here to talk about the president's remarks is NPR's White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez.

Hey, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hey, Leila.

FADEL: So where is he going on this multistate trip, and what's the significance of this?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, today he started off in Minnesota, talking about law and order. And that's - and Minnesota is obviously where the death of George Floyd set off a wave of protests against racial injustice. He's also traveling to Wisconsin - which is technically the headquarters for the Democratic National Convention, though the convention is happening virtually - where he talked about jobs. And as you just noted, Trump is taking aim at Biden as well as Harris, and he's doing so repeatedly.

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TRUMP: Joe Biden is the puppet of left-wing extremists trying to erase our borders, eliminate our police, indoctrinate our children, vilify our heroes, take away our energy - you know all about that - take away our energy, if you can believe it - no fossil fuel - destroy our second amendment, attack the right to life and replace American freedom with left-wing fascism.

ORDOÑEZ: You know, and that's just a taste of what we've been hearing. Later this week he's going to Yuma, Ariz., to talk about immigration and the border. And he also plans a trip on Thursday to Scranton, Penn., which is Biden's hometown.

FADEL: Now, how significant is this to basically campaign during the other party's convention?

ORDOÑEZ: It's very significant. As you noted, past presidents typically let their challengers, as they say, kind of have their own convention. I'll note that former President Obama also traveled a couple days in 2012 to Iowa, Colorado and Virginia during the national - Republican National Convention at the time. And he had to - himself had to defend breaking with tradition. But President Trump is really taking the counterprogramming to a different level.

FADEL: But, Franco, how so? You note that Obama traveled to three states.

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, I think the big difference is that Obama didn't talk much about his challenger Mitt Romney or the Republicans, while Trump is making it very clear he's using this trip to target Joe Biden, and he's doing so very aggressively. Here's more of what he said today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: In Joe Biden's America, the protections of American citizenship will be stripped away, and your community will be left at the mercy of the mob. I mean, I'm saying these things, but I mean them.

ORDOÑEZ: Trump's - and Trump's main speech in Scranton, Biden's hometown, is also the same day that the former vice president formally accepts his party's nomination.

FADEL: Now, there's no question that he's really getting personal. Do you think that's a sign he's concerned? Recent polls have largely not been in his favor.

ORDOÑEZ: You know, it's hard to say. What we have learned in the last almost four years of the administration is that Trump does have a tendency to lash out when things are not going his way. Recent polls show Biden leading Trump in many key states as well as nationally, and a lot of that has to do with how Americans feel about how President Trump's handling the pandemic. It's really hurt him. He was banking on running on a good economy, but the coronavirus wiped that away, those plans. People are out of work, and there are a lot of concerns when things will get back to normal. But things could certainly change. Polls could narrow if the pandemic ended or the economy rebounded, and momentum could shift back toward Trump.

FADEL: White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez, thank you.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.