Trump and Biden hit the campaign trail as Supreme Court battle looms

Yard signs supporting U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden are seen outside of an early voting site at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, Virginia, US on September 18, 2020. (REUTERS File Photo)
Yard signs supporting U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden are seen outside of an early voting site at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, Virginia, US on September 18, 2020. (REUTERS File Photo)

WILMINGTON, Del., September 21 (Reuters): Donald Trump and his rival for the U.S. presidency, Joe Biden, will campaign in two election battlegrounds on Monday as they spar over the president's plan to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat with only weeks before voters choose between them.

Trump, the Republican seeking re-election on Nov. 3, will hold campaign events in Ohio, a state some Democrats once saw as a lock for Trump, while the Democratic former vice president makes his second trip of the month to Wisconsin.

Each are reckoning with a presidential contest that was upended by Friday's death of the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Trump's intention to appoint a replacement before the election, which would cement a 6-3 conservative majority, has angered Democrats and shifted the election's focus away from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 Americans and thrown millions more out of work.

Biden said the winner of the election should pick the person who fills Ginsburg's seat in a speech on Sunday. He called Trump's planned appointment an "exercise of raw political power" after Republican senators refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama's nominee in 2016, citing that year's presidential election.

In a Fox News interview on Monday, Trump said he will name his choice to replace Ginsburg by Friday or Saturday.

Biden is headed to Wisconsin for the second time this month in a sign of the state's importance to the upcoming election. In his last visit, Biden went to Kenosha and spoke with Jacob Blake, the Black man whose shooting by police prompted widespread unrest.

This time, Biden will visit largely white Manitowoc County, which supported the former vice president and President Barack Obama when they ran as the Democratic ticket in 2008. The county backed Trump in 2016, helping deliver the state to a Republican presidential candidate for the first time since 1984.

Biden's campaign has made targeting such "flip" voters a priority, and it also hopes Biden will deliver a larger share of white voters than Democrat Hillary Clinton did in 2016.

Trump's campaign has made holding the state a prime concern after his 2016 victory by less than 1% of the vote. Trump visited Wisconsin last week, announcing a new round of coronavirus pandemic assistance to farmers of about $13 billion.

State polling averages show Biden with a lead of several points in Wisconsin but trailing Trump slightly in Ohio, where the president was scheduled to campaign on Monday.

Trump is expected to speak about "fighting for the American worker," with a focus on the economic themes that dominated his re-election pitch prior to Ginsburg's death, before attending a rally.

Earlier in the race, many Democrats had privately written off a win in Ohio, seeing it as firmly in Trump's grasp. But Biden's campaign is now pursuing wins in an expanded set of states.

On Monday, Biden's campaign said it would add Georgia and Iowa to a list of 10 other states where it is running paid advertisements. Meanwhile, campaign finance filings on Sunday showed the national Republican Party transferred $1.3 million in August to the coffers of the state party in Texas, a long-time Republican stronghold that Democrats also hope to make competitive.