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WATERTOWN, Wis. — President Donald Trump’s Tuesday rally in Racine, Wis., marks his first visit to the swing state since his Manhattan conviction — and since reportedly calling Milwaukee, about 40 minutes north of the lakefront city, a “horrible city.”

Racine County is pivotal to the presidential election’s outcome, as President Biden’s visit to the city, the county seat, last month illustrates.

Trump won the county by only 50% and 51%, respectively, in 2016 and 2020.

Trump speaks at a campaign event in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on May 1, 2024. AFP via Getty Images

President Barack Obama won it by just over 51% in 2012 and 53% in 2008. Going back to 2000 and 2004, President George W. Bush won the county by around 50% and 52%. 

Both parties consider the swing state a high priority this fall.

Biden and his surrogates have visited Wisconsin multiple times, and the Republican National Committee is holding its convention in Milwaukee next month. 

“Wisconsin holds the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this November,” said WisGOP spokesman Matt Fisher. “Having dealt with four years of higher prices, lower wages, and open border policies, voters in Racine are done with [the] Biden administration and ready to return common sense leadership to the White House with President Trump.”

Racine’s Democratic mayor, Cory Mason, said that between Biden’s May trip and Trump’s Tuesday visit, “It’s great to see Racine highlighted at the highest levels of presidential politics.”

Trump merchandise is seen at the 2024 Republican Party Of Wisconsin State Convention on Saturday, May 18, 2024, at the Fox Cities Exhibition Center in Appleton, Wis. Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Mason noted the contrast between the failed Foxconn contract Trump backed as president in 2018 and the $3.3 billion investment Microsoft plans to make in the area by 2026, which Biden touted in his Racine visit last month. Trump “made a lot of promises and didn’t deliver,” he said. “President Biden came in and delivered investments that will bring billions of dollars to the area.”

“Joe Biden’s policies have led to higher prices, lower wages, and a stalled manufacturing industry for families in Racine,” said RNC spokesman Anna Kelly fired back, “and they’ve translated to rock-bottom approval for Biden across Wisconsin.”

Biden’s approval rating in the Badger State, per the RealClearPolitics average, is just 39.3%, with 55.7% disapproval.

“Racine County voters delivered for President Trump in 2016 and 2020,” she continued. And Tuesday, “it will be clearer than ever that they are ready to help send Wisconsin’s ten electoral votes to the GOP column this fall.”

A billboard launched by the Democratic National Committee in 10 Milwaukee locations shows Trump criticizing the city that will host the Republican National Convention in July, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 14, 2024. AFP via Getty Images
A Trump souvenir stand was open for business in front of a gas station in Racine on June 16, 2024. ZUMAPRESS.com

Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court banned mobile early-voting sites in response to a lawsuit against a “voting van” Racine used in 2022.

Republicans said the van was being used in largely Democratic voting areas.

The city purchased the van with funds from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, the nonprofit funded by Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. 

Racine was one of five Wisconsin cities that received the majority of the CTCL 2020 election-administration grant money — private funding of election administration now banned by two constitutional amendments Wisconsin voters approved this year.

Whether Trump visits Wisconsin to accept the nomination at the RNC convention in Milwaukee will depend on what kind of sentence he receives July 11, just four days before the convention begins.

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