Biden rallies for Nolan in Duluth

October 29, 2016

DULUTH — Eleven days from the conclusion of another tightly-contested race in the Eighth Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan brought out the big guns Friday.

On a campaign trail that carried a heavy message of rebuilding the middle class, there was no bigger gun for Nolan than “Middle Class Joe” for the final push against Republican Challenger Stewart Mills.

Vice President Joe Biden, himself from a coal and steel region of Pennsylvania, rallied a modest crowd at the University of Minnesota Duluth to keep the Democrat incumbent in Congress to restore America’s middle class.

“The middle class is not a number,” Biden said. “It’s a value set.”

In a toned-back speech, the vice president was sentimental Friday in discussing the struggles of the middle class after the great recession caused job losses across the country and in the Eighth District.

At numerous times Biden reflected on his father’s words and actions as an example of the dignity and work ethic of blue collar workers. Nolan, said Biden, came from the same place, the same values, only 1,200 miles apart on the map.

“He knows why he’s in this,” Biden said. “He’s in it basically to restore the middle class.”

Steel and union jobs on the Iron Range turned into a centerpiece topic of the Nolan-Mills rematch in 2016, and represent the core example of Nolan’s middle class message.

Biden’s visit comes at a crucial time for Nolan, whose seat in Congress has moved into a “toss up” according to Real Clear Politics.

In 2014, Nolan defeated Mills by a mere 1.4 percent, and this year’s race is setting for a similar finish. Two separate polls show Mills and Nolan leading, with 10-14 percent undecided within the district.

At a time when Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is trailing in both Eighth District polls to Republican Donald Trump, the play of Biden is a strategic one, considering the rising approval ratings of the Obama Administration.

Mills, however, called the Biden visit a last-ditch effort by Nolan and drilled the Congressman on the recently reported rate hikes for MNsure and the Affordable Care Act.

“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,” Mills said through a statement released before Biden’s appearance.

Nolan defended universal healthcare in his speech Friday, saying the system has problems to fix, but has insured millions of Americans.

“There is no way we’re going to turn that back,” Nolan said.