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MADISON — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is visiting Madison Friday on a tour of Upper Midwest states, contending he is the Democratic presidential contender best-positioned to carry the pivotal region in a general election against President Donald Trump.

The rally is at 5 p.m. Friday at James Madison Park. It is free and open to the public, with entrance provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The stop is a part of a three-part weekend tour that includes visits to Michigan and Pennsylvania. Those states, along with Wisconsin, comprised what Democrats called the “Blue Wall” before the 2016 election, when their support for Trump cemented his Electoral College win.

A Sanders campaign release said “the tour will emphasize that Democrats’ clearest and strongest path to victory in 2020 runs through the Upper Midwest — and that Bernie Sanders is by far the best-positioned candidate to win these states and defeat Donald Trump.”

Sanders’ message at the rallies will focus on “fighting against unfair trade deals that undermine workers wages and enrich CEOs, rebuilding and strengthening unions and guaranteeing health care as a right to all with Medicare for All,” the release said.

Sanders, I-Vt., has been a frequent visitor to Madison over the years.

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The national media started to take notice of Sanders’ then-upstart presidential bid in 2015 after he drew 10,000 to a Madison rally.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton deployed Sanders to Madison during the late stages of the 2016 election. And before Sanders’ ascent into the national spotlight during the 2016 campaign, he was a frequent visitor to Fighting Bob Fest, the annual progressive gala named in honor or Robert La Follette.

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