(FOX 9) - Both top presidential nominees were in Minnesota on Friday for the first day of early voting for the Nov. 3 election.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden visited the Duluth area Friday afternoon while President Donald Trump held a Friday evening rally in Bemidji a few hours later.
Minnesota, which has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate every year since 1972 but went narrowly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, is seen as a swing state this year, although recent polls show Biden leading Trump in the state.
BIDEN CAMPAIGNS IN DULUTH
Biden, traveling to Minnesota for the first time during the 2020 campaign, slammed the president's handling of the coronavirus pandemic as he appealed to blue-collar voters at a union training center in Hermantown, near Duluth.
"Ordinary folks (say), who’s looking out for me? That’s been the entire story of Donald trump’s presidency," Biden said at the Jerry Alander Training Center. "In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, Trump has given up on even pretending to do his job."
Biden took a tour of the carpenters' facility before giving remarks. The event was not open to the public. Biden's campaign excluded most Minnesota-based reporters from being inside the union hall to cover the former vice president's visit.
Biden said Trump "doesn't have a clue how to be president" and said the Republican is more focused on the stock market and his own re-election than Duluth's workers.
Outside, Biden supporters and Trump backers protested in a noisy demonstration on either side of the highway.
Protesters unsuccessfully tried to burn a Trump campaign sign. Supporters of both sides chanted at each other and cheered for honking horns from passing cars.
Some Biden supporters said they were relieved their candidate had come to Minnesota, though some said they were hoping for an outdoor event where they could see him.
"I think it's important that he showed up," said Sue Morrow of Cambridge, who held a pro-Biden sign by the side of the road. "I only hope it goes very well for him. You can't take Minnesota for granted."
Biden and Trump campaigned less than 150 miles apart Friday as they battle for voters in northern Minnesota. Biden is seeking to hold onto support in the traditionally Democratic area, while Trump is looking to continue making inroads that he started while narrowly losing the state in 2016.
Some people said the campaigning had gotten contentious in the area.
"There are Biden people afraid to put signs up," said Chris Henley of Duluth. "It’s that vicious."
Trump supporters countered that they felt Biden would take the country in the wrong direction.
"Whether Biden’s coming to town or not, we want to show our support, and our support goes to Donald Trump," said Kathie Luoma of Duluth.
TRUMP HOLDS RALLY IN BEMIDJI
President Donald Trump took the stage shortly after 6 p.m. at Bemidji Aviation Services Friday.
Trump spoke for nearly two hours, pitching his campaign while taking shots at his opponent. He also mentioned the Supreme Court while on stage. It's unclear if Trump had known about the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when he took the stage. The news of the justice's death broke about a half-hour after Trump touched down in Bemidji.
At the rally, however, Trump talked about how important the next presidency will be for the Supreme Court.
"The next president will get one, two, three, or four Supreme Court justices," Trump said. "I had two. Many presidents have had none. They've had none because they're there for a long time."
"The next one will have one to four," Trump added. "They will totally change when you talk about life, when you talk about Second Amendment, when you talk about things that are so important to you."
Trump's rally also focused on the successes of his presidency, including the pre-COVID-19 economy.
"We had our best year in the history of our country last year," said Trump. "And we're going to have a better year coming up. That's why you have an obligation to vote for the guy that got you there."
"Get your friends, get your family, get your neighbors, get your coworkers, and get out and vote!" Trump urged voters.