Democratic nominee Joe Biden is headed to Georgia on Tuesday, part of a late effort by the campaign to flip a state that Republicans have carried in every White House contest since 1996.
The former vice president will deliver remarks Tuesday afternoon in Warm Springs on “bringing Americans together to address the crises facing our nation,” his campaign said, before an evening drive-in rally in Atlanta to encourage Georgians to cast their ballots during the last week of early voting.
It is Biden’s first trip to Georgia as his party’s nominee, and it comes as Democrats are pushing to expand the battleground map. Recent polls show Biden and President Donald Trump deadlocked in Georgia, and a defeat here would likely doom the Republican’s reelection chances.
There’s little surprise that Biden’s visit would include metro Atlanta, home to the broad majority of the state’s Democrats. But Warm Springs is off the beaten path.
The west Georgia town of roughly 400 was the home of former President Franklin Roosevelt’s private retreat, known as the “Little White House,” and it’s where he died in 1945. Biden’s campaign said his remarks there will focus on how “Americans have always come together to triumph and overcome, and that we can, must and will again now.”
State Democratic officials also hope his visit sends a signal to voters outside of Atlanta, which has drawn the lion’s share of campaign visits.
“That itty-bitty town was the center of the world between 1933 and 1945, and it’s incredible that he’s going down there,” said Seth Clark, a Democratic commissioner-elect in Bibb County.
“The reason you saw people like my grandfather vote Democratic down the ticket was because Georgia was saved by Roosevelt’s New Deal,” said Clark. “And Roosevelt pushed the most progressive policies the party has ever pushed from little old Warm Springs.”
Georgia Democrats have long urged Biden to compete in Georgia, where Republicans have clung to narrowing margins of victory due partly to struggles in Atlanta’s suburbs. Biden’s visit would also likely promote Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the top Democratic challengers to two U.S. Senate seats that could determine control of the chamber.
Stacey Abrams wrote last year it would be “strategic malpractice” for Democrats to bypass the state in the race for the White House. On Saturday, she said she was “thrilled” with the news that Biden was focusing on flipping Georgia in the final week of the campaign.
“GA is a battleground state,” she said in a tweet, “and our 16 electoral votes are up for grabs.”
The trip is scheduled days after vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris campaigned across Atlanta. Her Friday visit included events with student leaders in Atlanta and a drive-in rally at Morehouse College, where the California senator pushed back on Trump’s appeals to Black men.
The president carried Georgia in 2016 by 5 percentage points, but he’s scrambling to hold the state this cycle. He visited Macon last week to mobilize white rural voters, his second trip to Georgia in less than a month, and his son Donald Trump Jr. held events in Atlanta and Macon on Friday.