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Biden uses Labor Day speeches to focus on 2 swing states


President Biden spent his Labor Day laboring on behalf of Democrats in swing states ahead of the midterms. He gave speeches in both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. So are voters sympathetic to his core message that American democracy is under threat? NPR's Claudia Grisales was traveling with the president.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: At his first Labor Day stop, President Biden told a Milwaukee, Wis., crowd that he knows, at least in part, what got him into office.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Folks, Labor Day is a special day in the country for - and here in Milwaukee. This is one of the biggest Labor Day events in America you all have here. And it's a special day to me, as well, because the fact of the matter is, I wouldn't be here without unions.

GRISALES: Now, it's that energy Biden is hoping to channel to the ballot box for the November midterm elections, with Democratic congressional control at stake.


BIDEN: I wouldn't be here without cops, firefighters, teachers, nurses.

GRISALES: And later, near Pittsburgh, he appeared with a key Democratic Senate candidate at a local union office. That's Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who is trying to get past GOP Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz, who's got former President Trump's endorsement. Fetterman spent much of the summer out of the public eye, recovering from a stroke.


JOHN FETTERMAN: You've got a friend, and you have an ally. Send me to Washington, D.C.

GRISALES: Biden told a crowd of union steelworkers in West Mifflin, Pa., that the country is under a growing threat from Republican extremists.


BIDEN: It's clear which way the new MAGA Republicans are. They're extreme, and Democracy is really at stake. You can't be a democracy when you support violence, when you don't like the outcome of election.

GRISALES: Biden will keep traveling as the final sprint to the midterms gets underway. He's going to Ohio on Friday.

Claudia Grisales, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.

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