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Where Biden Is A Month Before The Election

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Joe Biden appears to be pivoting to a closing argument. As President Trump battles the coronavirus infection and after a panned debate performance, his Democratic opponent was in Gettysburg, Pa., today. There, Biden tried to frame his campaign in the context of American history.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: Today, once again, we are a house divided. But that, my friends, can no longer be.

CHANG: Correspondent Scott Detrow covers the Biden campaign and joins us now. Hey, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey. Good afternoon, Ailsa.

CHANG: All right, so I'm trying to visualize this. Biden was out there speaking, overlooking this Civil War battlefield. What do you think he was trying to do with this setting?

DETROW: Biden's been running on a lot of different policy plans, but they all really play second fiddle to the main theme of his campaign - that he's trying to, as he puts it, restore the soul of America. So he went to this historic place, the site of one of - not only one of the key battles of the Civil War but also where Abraham Lincoln reframed the idea of American democracy in the Gettysburg Address. And Biden spoke directly to voters that he thinks are just tired of division and worried about how tensions keep getting amped up.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Too many Americans see our public life not as an arena for mediation of our differences, but rather, they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting, partisan warfare.

DETROW: And Biden went on to repeat a promise that he has made throughout the campaign that if he wins, he will be a president for the entire country, not just the people who voted for him. And though he did not say it out loud, that is a clear contrast to how President Trump governs and campaigns.

CHANG: So let me understand this. Would you say that this promise that he's making is more a promise about tone?

DETROW: You know, a large part of it is. Biden insists that there are ways to disagree on the path forward without making politics all about personal destruction and us versus them. But he did also make sure to work the major policy themes of this year and this campaign into this message. So he talked about racial justice, policies that help poor and middle-class people. I think this was clearly a moment the campaign thinks that he can reframe all of its goals into one final big, sweeping pitch to voters.

CHANG: All right. And then that big, sweeping pitch - can you talk about some other closing arguments that we're hearing from other Democrats right now?

DETROW: Yeah. Earlier today Michelle Obama released a 24-minute video speech. And she had clearly worked on it for a long time, but it was especially striking viewed in the aftermath of President Trump yesterday, still sick but dramatically taking off his mask as he returned to the White House and telling people not to be worried about the pandemic. Here's what Obama said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICHELLE OBAMA: If you are a parent like me, you're feeling the consequences of this president's failure to take this pandemic seriously.

DETROW: And Obama had a lot of very specific examples in the speech about how the pandemic has strained and endangered families, and she summed it up with this line. It's a simple choice, really - a chance for a fresh start or four more years of this. And though a lot of nervous Democrats may not want to hear this, the fact is Joe Biden is in a very good place right now. Poll after poll shows Biden with increasingly commanding national leads, leads in key states.

And all of this enthusiasm from Democrats and urgency is giving him almost unlimited money to make his case. And as one example, the Biden campaign is now reportedly spending nearly $6 million in Texas. So President Trump clearly sees this happening. He says he's very eager to get back on the campaign trail and have that next debate even though he's still fighting coronavirus himself.

CHANG: That is NPR's Scott Detrow.

Thank you, Scott.

DETROW: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.