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Biden relaunches in-person campaigning in battleground states

Report: Biden gaining ground in Midwest
Report: Biden gaining ground in Midwest 06:01

Democratic nominee Joe Biden's campaign confirmed Thursday they will launch traditional door knocking and in-person canvassing in several battleground states with a little over a month until the general election on November 3. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, the Biden campaign primarily has focused on virtual organizing and virtual campaign events. 
 
In-person operations will launch in New Hampshire, Nevada, Michigan and Pennsylvania in the next week or so with more states to follow, according to a senior Biden official. The return of in-person campaigning was first reported by The Associated Press.
 
The team had been working on plans since the Democratic National Convention in August to build an organizing strategy to directly engage with voters in person. In addition to door knocking, supply centers designed to distribute yard signs and voter education hotlines are opening in battleground states. 
 
"Our volunteers are fired up and have exceeded every goal we've set," Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a statement. "We're now expanding on our strategy in a targeted way that puts the safety of communities first and foremost and helps us mobilize voters who are harder to reach by phone now that we're in the final stretch and now that Americans are fully dialed-in and ready to make their voices heard."

Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden Holds Train Campaign Tour Of OH And PA
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop outside Johnstown Train Station September 30, 2020 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Alex Wong / Getty Images

A senior Biden official noted there will be at least several hundred volunteers canvassing this week and the conversations with voters will be centered around voter education, including early voting efforts. The campaign ensured that their volunteers will have COVID safety training and be provided with personal protective equipment.

 
The return to in-person campaigning comes as Biden embarked on a roughly 200-mile whistle stop train tour through the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
 
The inclusion of in-person canvassing represents a slight shift for the Biden campaign and Democrats at the national level. In September, O'Malley Dillon questioned the effectiveness of in-person door knocking. 
 
"While you might hear our opponent spend a lot of time talking about the millions of door knocks or attempts that they're making week to week, those metrics actually don't have any impact on reaching voters," O'Malley Dillon told reporters in a September call.
 
The Trump campaign quickly seized on the Biden campaign's shift, referencing their own efforts with their ground game network and voter contacts. The Biden campaign emphasized they were following the guidance of public health officials to ensure the safety of staff and volunteers. 
 
"Just the other day, the Biden campaign said door knocking didn't have any impact. What changed?" Trump campaign deputy communications director Ali Pardo said in a statement. "They know they're being hopelessly outworked on the ground and down ballot Democrats in key states have been freaking out about it. The Biden campaign has been nowhere while the Trump campaign is everywhere."
 
The news also caught some Democratic party officials in Nevada by surprise. Multiple party officials in Nevada said they had heard nothing of the decision before Thursday. For months Democrats in the state had insisted its remote outreach had met or outperformed traditional voter contacts, denouncing the Trump campaign's own restart to in-person canvassing months ago.

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