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University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Why is Biden making Milwaukee his 1st presidential trip? Political scientist weighs in on reasons behind Wisconsin visit

President Joe Biden selected Milwaukee as the destination of his first official trip since taking office on Jan. 20. Biden will participate in a socially distanced, invitation-only town hall at the Pabst Theater on Tuesday, Feb. 16, to be televised on CNN.

Paru Shah, an associate professor of political science, explores some of the reasons why the president’s milestone visit will be to Milwaukee.

What is the political significance of Wisconsin, and Milwaukee specifically, as the destination for President Biden’s first official trip since taking office?  

Milwaukee missed the opportunity to host candidate Biden at the Democratic National Convention last summer due to the pandemic. Prior to the November election, however, Biden made Wisconsin a focus for his campaign, visiting the state three times. And he flipped the state blue again, beating former President Donald Trump by about 20,000 votes.

All indications are that Wisconsin will continue to be a swing state in national elections, and this visit is an opportunity for Biden to thank the voters of Wisconsin and continue to build those relationships.

What do you expect to hear from the president?

Two items at the top of Biden’s 100-day plan are school reopenings and COVID response. His visit coincides with the Wisconsin primary election day, including the nonpartisan superintendent of schools position. I would expect him to talk about his plan to get students back in schools and provide funding for schools.

How might Biden address the pandemic?

As of Feb. 9, Wisconsin led the nation in the average number of COVID-19 vaccine shots being administered daily. I would expect Biden to focus on his plan to ensure 100 million Americans are vaccinated in his first 100 days, and tout Wisconsin as an example of positive progress towards this goal.


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