President Joe Biden to visit Milwaukee next week, Feb.16

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- President Joe Biden will be in Wisconsin next week -- his first visit back to the state since becoming president.

The White House announced President Biden will travel to Milwaukee on Tuesday, Feb. 16 to participate in a CNN Presidential Town Hall from the Pabst Theater. He plans to discuss his plans to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's not uncommon to see visits from presidents to the Badger State as it's played a pivotal role in elections. Wisconsin helped Biden flip the state, narrowly defeating President Donald Trump by fewer than 21,000 votes.

"Wisconsin was central to Biden's reelection and it's a way to make good after he was unable to visit for the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee due to the pandemic," said Mike Wagner, UW-Madison political science professor.

Wagner said it's possible Biden will tout Wisconsin's response to COVID-19, as the state is currently leading the nation in the number of daily vaccine shots. Just a few weeks ago, the state was one of the worst.

"He might try and congratulate Wisconsin on turning things around so quickly and effectively in vaccine distribution and may turn to the state as a model," said Wagner.

The president's trip will fall on the same day as Gov. Tony Evers' budget address, both scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. CT. The Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) criticized the competing events.

"Either the White House isn’t communicating with Democrat governors or the Democrats realized that it is in Gov. Evers’ best interest for no one to watch him unveil this budget," said Mark Jefferson, executive director of RPW.

Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said Biden's visit won't be his last, referencing upcoming elections in 2022 for governor and U.S. Senate.

"The nation's eyes are on Wisconsin and it's exciting to have the nation turning to us at this moment," Wikler said. "Wisconsin is at the center of the political universe." 

Biden's last visit to Wisconsin was a day before the November election where he spoke to a crowd in Kenosha. Last year during the campaign he made trips to the state three times. 

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