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Inside Joe Biden’s whistle-stop tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden plans to leave the Cleveland presidential debate via one of his favorite modes of locomotion: a train.

The Biden “Build Back Better Train Tour” departs from Cleveland on Wednesday and will make five stops, including in Alliance, Ohio; Pittsburgh; Greensburg, Pa.; and Latrobe, Pa., and ending in Johnstown, Pa., according to the campaign.

The trip is meant to help Biden connect with voters who supported Trump in 2016 and to give the Democratic nominee a chance to “talk about what he will do as president to create jobs, support working families and build our economy back better,” according to the Biden campaign.

It also sets up a packed day of public events for Biden, who has been criticized for running a low energy campaign that rarely includes more than one public event per day. And it provides the former vice president with time for a victory lap if the debate Tuesday night goes well for him or for multiple chances to change the conversation if it goes poorly for him.

Trains have been an important part of Biden’s identity. He was known for being a frequent passenger on the Amtrak when he was in the Senate. The train station in Wilmington, Del., is named after him — and he accompanied Barack Obama on a train ride from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., ahead of their inauguration.

This train tour will help Biden drive home the “Scranton vs. Park Avenue” contrast that he’s been trying to draw to highlight his humble roots and Trump’s privileged upbringing. During the tour, Biden is set to meet with workers, including union members, to hear “how they have struggled to get ahead in Trump’s economy,” according to the campaign.

Most of the tour goes through Pennsylvania, a must-win state for Biden where polls show he is leading Trump. But in a sign that the Biden campaign is serious about playing offense in Ohio, Biden plans to meet with voters in Alliance. Biden’s campaign has also added about $4.5 million in TV advertising spots in the state, according to Advertising Analytics.

Next the chartered train will stop in Pittsburgh, where Biden will give an address focused on the economy. The train then stops in Greensburg and up next is a stop in Latrobe — which the Biden campaign notes is the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp, a facility that wasn’t used this year due to the uncontrolled coronavirus.

The ride ends in Johnstown, one of the poorest towns in Pennsylvania, and a place where Trump held a massive rally in 2016 and promised to bring back jobs. Biden will deliver an economic address there that will point out Trump’s failure to do so and highlight his own plan for recovery.