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US President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 8, 2024.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden visited Pennsylvania on Friday to kick off a tour of battleground states and his reelection team will spend $30 million on an ad buy as he moves quickly into the U.S. general election campaign after his feisty State of the Union speech.

Campaign officials who briefed reporters said Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in March will rally Democrats in many of the states where the Nov. 5 election against Republican opponent Donald Trump is likely to be decided.

After Pennsylvania on Friday, Biden will visit Georgia on Saturday, New Hampshire on Monday, Wisconsin on Wednesday and Michigan on Thursday. Harris is visiting Arizona on Friday and Nevada on Saturday.

An estimated 32.2 million people watched Biden’s State of the Union speech, according to Nielsen ratings from 14 television networks. The audience rose 18% from Biden’s address last year, which brought in 27.3 million viewers, Nielsen said.

Television audiences for live events have fallen sharply as audiences have gravitated to on-demand streaming services. The TV ratings do not capture all the viewership on streaming services or social media.

Biden campaign officials said they expect an extremely close race against Trump with opinion polls showing a neck-and-neck race for the 270 electoral votes necessary for victory.

“We firmly believe that this race is going to be won on the ground across key states that afford multiple pathways to 270, and everything we are doing this month to kick off the general election is grounded in that premise,” said Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez.

Cabinet officials and other top aides also are fanning out to make official stops in a variety of states like Ohio and Florida to make the case for the Biden agenda.

Polls show Biden, 81, and Trump, 77, closely matched, with most voters unenthusiastic about the rematch after Biden defeated Trump four years ago.

Deputy campaign manager Rob Flaherty said the $30 million ad buy over the next six weeks is more than the Biden campaign spent in all of 2023. He said Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday night triggered the biggest day of fundraising yet for the incumbent Democrat. No figure was provided.

As of last month, the campaign had raised more than $42 million in January and had $130 million cash on hand for the general election battle.

The $30 million ad buy will be aimed at voters across a wide array of digital platforms, with some aimed at key Democratic constituencies, including Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans, Flaherty said.

Ads will run as well on popular channels Comedy Central and ESPN.

On Friday Biden visited a Philadelphia suburban county that has undergone a transformation during the Trump era.

In 2015, Democrats held a slim 6,665-voter registration advantage over Republicans. Today, that margin has swelled to 57,139, according to the latest state voting registration data.

For Biden to win the critical state, he needs to run up the winning margins in Philadelphia and the suburbs ringing the city like those in Delaware County.

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