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Tales from the trail: The blue states Trump eyes to turn red in November

PoliticsTales from the trail: The blue states Trump eyes to turn red in November

Former President Donald Trump is headed back to the Jersey Shore.

“We have a tremendous rally and hope you’re all going to be there. It’s in Wildwood, New Jersey. It’s going to be a big crowd,” the former president touted on the eve of his Saturday rally.

Wildwood, at the southern tip of the Jersey Shore, is part of the Garden State’s Cape May County, a heavily Republican county in a longtime blue state.

Trump held a rally in Wildwood in January 2020. But the then-president ended up losing New Jersey by 16 points to President Biden four years ago.

WHERE THE BIDEN-TRUMP REMATCH STANDS SIX MONTHS UNTIL ELECTION DAY

Trump rally Wildwood

President Donald Trump attends a rally at the Wildwood Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey, on Jan. 28, 2020. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

For Trump, the weekend rally is a short distance from New York City, where he’s spending his weekdays in court, making history as the first former or current president to stand trial in a criminal case.

“We’re going to try and win the state of New Jersey. I want the people to know that I love it,” Trump predicted Friday in a local radio interview in the Garden State. “You know, it’s not just going to be like, gee, maybe we can get close. We’re going to win it.”

But Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, a Biden surrogate, told reporters a few hours later that “Jersey is not going to be a welcoming place for Trump.”

And Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler noted that “Trump’s team is talking about New Jersey. They’re talking about holding concerts in Madison Square Garden to turn out voters in states like New York. I think here on planet earth in the Biden campaign, we’re going to remain laser focused on winning 270 electoral votes.”

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While flipping the Garden State may not be at the top of the Trump campaign’s to-do list, it is spotlighting his chances in two other blue states Biden won comfortably in 2020 — Minnesota and Virginia.

As the Trump and Biden campaigns prepare for battle in seven crucial swing states that decided the 2020 election (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which were narrowly won by Biden, and North Carolina, which Trump carried by a razor-thin margin) and will likely once again in the 2024 rematch, both campaigns see opportunities to expand the map.

Last weekend at a closed-door National Republican Committee retreat for top-dollar donors that was held at a resort in Palm Beach, Florida, senior Trump campaign advisers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita and veteran pollster Tony Fabrizio spotlighted internal surveys that suggested both “Minnesota & Virginia are clearly in play.”

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Former President Donald Trump headlines a Republican National Committee spring donor retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, on May 4.  (Donald Trump 2024 campaign)

“In both states, Donald Trump finds himself in positions to flip key electoral votes in his favor,” the survey, which was shared with Fox News, emphasizes. 

Trump is set to return to Minnesota next weekend to headline a state GOP fundraising dinner.

And both states have sizable populations of rural white voters without college degrees who disproportionately support the former president.

Biden’s campaign disagrees that either Minnesota or Virginia are up for grabs.

While noting that they are “not taking any state or any vote for granted,” Biden campaign battleground states director Dan Kanninen told reporters earlier this week that “we don’t see polls that are six or seven months out from a general election, head-to-head numbers certainly, as any more predictive than a weather report is six or seven months out.”

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Kanninen highlighted that the campaign has teams on the ground in both states engaging voters.

“We feel strongly the Biden-Harris coalition in both Minnesota and Virginia, which has been strong in the midterms and off-year elections, will continue to be strong for us in the fall of 2024,” he added.

And Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt, pointing to the president’s current fundraising dominance and ground-game advantage in the key battlegrounds, argued that “Trump’s team has so little campaign or infrastructure to speak of they’re resorting to leaking memos that say ‘the polls we paid for show us winning.'” 

This is the second straight election where Trump aims to flip Minnesota.

At a late September 2020 rally in northern Minnesota, Trump boasted of the crowd size and insisted “this is not the crowd of somebody that’s going to finish second in this state to Sleepy Joe,” a derogatory term he used for Biden.

Poll indicate Trump holds a slight edge over Biden North Carolina

President Biden looks on during his visit to the Chavis Community Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, on March 26. (Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz)

While Trump’s campaign looks for opportunities to expand the map in Minnesota and Virginia, Biden’s campaign appears to be eyeing swing state North Carolina as well as Florida. 

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Trump carried the Sunshine State by less than four points in 2020, but two years ago Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and GOP Sen. Marco Rubio each won re-election by nearly 20 points.

LaCivita argued the Biden campaign was playing “a faux game” in both states, but insisted that Trump has a “real opportunity in expanding the map in Virginia and Minnesota.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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