Duluth -- Joe Biden grew up in Scranton, Pa., 1,200 miles away from Rick Nolan’s home in Crosby, Minn., on the Cuyuna Iron Range. Yet the vice president told hundreds of supporters at a rally Friday at the University of Minnesota Duluth that they basically grew up in the same neighborhood.
“The same values, mine was a coal mining town and a steel town, where people busted their neck," Biden said. "Given a chance, there wasn't anything they could not do.”
But today, Biden said, that basic middle class bargain, the idea that if you work hard, you can share in the country’s prosperity -- “that doesn't happen anymore.”
That’s one of the few ideas most Americans agree on in this bitterly contested campaign.
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Biden argued that in northeast Minnesota, incumbent DFL U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is the best candidate to fight for not just the economic well-being of the middle class, but their dignity.
“Everything Rick is talking about,” he said, “is about growing the economy, giving people a chance, and not only will the middle class be better off, but the poor and the wealthy as well.”
Nolan is locked in a bitterly contested rematch with Republican Stewart Mills. Nolan defeated Mills two years ago by fewer than 2 percentage points.
More than $10 million from outside groups has flooded the district this cycle, making it one of the most expensive and most hotly-contested races in the country.
“As ObamaCare and MNsure are melting down and Minnesotans in our part of the state are seeing their premiums skyrocket,” Mills said in a statement, “Congressman Nolan is trying to jump-start his own stumbling campaign by rolling out the red carpet for one of the chief architects of ObamaCare.”
Nolan, for his part, not only doubled down on his support for the Affordable Care Act, he also called for a single-payer universal health care system.
Nolan also pledged the country would not sign any more “bad” trade deals, bringing up an issue of high importance to a part of the state reliant on iron mining that’s been rocked in the past year by illegally imported steel.
“We are going to trade,” he said, “but we’re not going down to 65 cents an hour, we’re going to bring them up to our level if they want to do business with America!”
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Congressman Tim Walz and Duluth Mayor Emily Larson also spoke to the crowd, urging them to vote and volunteer for Nolan’s campaign.
State DFL Party Chair Ken Martin told the crowd there were two things that worried him, 11 days before the election: an enthusiasm problem within the DFL, and a belief among some Democrats that the presidential election has already been won.
“Those two things could be a recipe for disaster,” he said. “Lack of enthusiasm and complacency could be that we see a huge drop in turnout. We can’t allow that to happen.”