DNC Day 4: How Joe Biden is taking a page from Tammy Baldwin's playbook in his Wisconsin campaign
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The last night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention was all about Joe Biden accepting the nomination to represent Democrats on their push to reclaim the White House.
The convention was no longer the boost to Milwaukee and Wisconsin it was once considered to be before COVID-19 made the convention mostly virtual. Biden and Senator Kamala Harris, D-CA, also decided to speak from the Chase Center in Delaware, instead of the Wisconsin Center, which became the control room for the event.
But Wisconsin's speaker on day four of the convention, Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, was already providing a boost to Biden before she spoke.
Baldwin caught the attention of Biden when he campaigned for her back in 2018, and she won a statewide Senate race over Republican challenger Leah Vukmir by 10 points. For reference, Democratic Governor Tony Evers beat Republican incumbent Scott Walker by about one point on the same election day.
Baldwin's success caught the Biden campaign's attention so much, they decided to use plenty of her 2018 campaign-winning staff in their Wisconsin 2020 operation.
"The Joe Biden Campaign and Wisconsin Democratic Coordinated Campaign are proud to have numerous alumni of Senator Baldwin's blowout 2018 victory on staff," Biden for President Wisconsin Communications Director Nate Evans said. "Our Badger State team is battle-tested and knows how to win in Wisconsin."
Baldwin addressed both state and nationwide voters during her DNC speech. She described the nation she would like America to become.
“A nation that plans," Baldwin said. "A nation that builds. A nation that builds back.”
That rhetoric was reminiscent of her platform in 2018 and beyond, attempting to connect with Wisconsin voters on policy issues relating to agriculture and manufacturing, two sectors that are proportionately larger in Wisconsin than nationwide. It's a platform that actually overlaps greatly with President Donald Trump's, despite the difference in party.
Those are two sectors University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Political Science Professor Mordecai Lee said have been weak points for Democrats in Wisconsin compared to Republicans for the past several decades.
"They've got to start denting into white men who are high school graduates," Lee said. “Blue collar people. People who work with their hands. Democrats have lost them ever since Reagan, and certainly ever since Trump.”
Baldwin was on the short list of candidates to run alongside Joe Biden before Harris was selected. Baldwin told CBS 58 she has spoken with Biden about how she was able to win a state that is generally very even between Democrats and Republicans, by double digits.
"One of the key things is understanding some of the unique aspects of Wisconsin," Baldwin said. "We are a state that has a significant agricultural sector, a significant manufacturing sector, and focusing on the dignity of hard work over wealth."
Baldwin added those issues were key in Donald Trump becoming the first Republican to carry Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan.
“One of the things he talked about was buy American, hire American," Baldwin said.
Health care was also key in Baldwin’s victory. It was a key component of her speech during the DNC. She said it more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said Biden has "studied up" on these issues she thinks matters most to Wisconsinites.
“Focusing on those kitchen table issues that are discussed across Wisconsin and across America.”