Fresh off of the first presidential general election debate of 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s nominee, plans to take a train tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania on Wednesday that is scheduled to conclude with a speech in Johnstown.

Biden, along with his wife, Jill Biden, will arrive at the city’s train station. They will then hold a rally outside the train station, where a staging area was being prepared Wednesday morning.

The former vice president is to speak at 7:30 p.m.

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The gathering, which will be limited in the number of guests due to COVID-19 precautions, will follow “Build Back Better Express” stops in Cleveland; Alliance, Ohio; Pittsburgh; Greensburg; New Alexandria and Latrobe throughout the day. His remarks in Johnstown will be livestreamed.

Biden will take the one-day tour after debating President Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, at the Cleveland Clinic campus on Tuesday night.

“This is a bonus,” Cambria County Democratic Party Chairwoman Helen Whiteford said. “This is a plus. We’re happy to have him come.”

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Western Pennsylvania is considered one of the most important regions in the nation during this election, as evidenced by frequent visits from candidates and their surrogates. Trump spoke at Latrobe’s Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in early September and his son, Donald Trump Jr., held a rally at Johnstown’s Roxbury Bandshell last week.

“The pathway to the presidency runs through Pennsylvania, and Vice President Biden is working hard to earn every vote he can in our Commonwealth,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat, said in an email comment. “His visit to Johnstown underscores that commitment, as well as his pledge to be a president for all Americans when this campaign is over.”

This will be Biden’s third public trip to western Pennsylvania in recent weeks, including a speech at Carnegie Mellon University’s Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute in Pittsburgh and stops at the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department and Flight 93 National Memorial on Sept. 11.

“I think this is really important for our part of Pennsylvania,” said Mary Lou Davis, co-founder of Indivisible Johnstown. “I’m very excited.”

Davis, who plans to attend the event, hopes the former vice president will address the economy and health care.

“If he hits those two critical issues, I think that’s great,” Davis said.

Biden will be looking to bring back momentum in Cambria County, a longtime Democratic stronghold that went 67% for Trump in the 2016 election and recently saw the Republicans gain an edge in voter registration for the first time in modern history.

Numerous Democrats, including Cambria County Commissioner B.J. Smith, voted for Trump four years ago when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran for the Democrats.

But, this time around, Smith said, “I’m a Biden person.”

“There’s just so much turmoil in the world in the last three or four years,” Smith said. “I voted for Trump the first time, but I can’t bring myself to do that the second time.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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