Biden returns to battleground Pennsylvania for campaign events in Philadelphia and Harrisburg

PHILADELPHIA – President Joe Biden is in Pennsylvania today to speak at a Philadelphia church and a campaign office near Harrisburg, and top state Democrats — including Gov. Josh Shapiro, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman and Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker — are expected to join him along the way.

Biden spoke at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, a predominantly black church in Northwest Philadelphia, before heading to a campaign event in Harrisburg. Biden and first lady Jill Biden were originally scheduled to speak at the National Education Association conference in Philadelphia on Sunday, but this performance was canceled after a group of NEA employees went on strike Friday. The campaign said Biden refused to cross the picket line.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Biden told the crowd Sunday. “I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of America, honestly, if we stick together. I really do.”

The president arrived in Philadelphia around 10 a.m., according to pool reports, where he was greeted by Casey, Fetterman, Parker, Gisele Fetterman and U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-2nd District) and Madeleine Dean (D-4th District). The service began around 10:30 a.m., with Biden, Casey and Parker arriving shortly after.

After the opening hymn, Bishop J. Louis Felton opened the service by welcoming the president, who was seated next to the church’s founder, Bishop Ernest Morris Sr. “We want you to know, President Biden, that Bishop Morris is 91 years old and going on 92,” Felton said. “So, Mr. President, since you’re only an octogenarian sitting next to a ninety-year-old, don’t tell anyone your age. You’re a young talker.”

Sunday marks the first time Biden has returned to a battleground state since his penniless showing in the election. June 27 presidential debatewhich since then admitted that it was a “bad episode.” His insistence on staying in the race has not stopped national media and political pundits from opining and speculating — sometimes even stating — that Biden should step down as the presumptive Democratic nominee in favor of a younger candidate.

But Biden has largely rejected those calls to withdraw. “Let me make this as clear as I can: I am staying in the race,” he told a crowd of more than 1,000 people fans in Madison, Wisconsin on ThursdayThose calling on him to drop out of the race are ignoring the will of voters who voted for him in primaries across the country, he added. “I will not allow one 90-minute debate to undo three and a half years of work.”

Most top elected Democrats in Pennsylvania have so far expressed support for the president to remain in the race.

Shapiro, whose name has often come up in speculation about who will replace Biden on the candidate list, has appeared on cable news shows the morning after the debate and said Democrats “stop worrying and start working,” while acknowledging Biden’s delicate debate performance. Fetterman, who had yourself a abrasive debate in 2022 when he was recovering from a stroke, he said Friday on MSNBC that Democrats calling on Biden to withdraw are betraying the president. “I am not the sum of a bad debate, and the president certainly isn’t either,” he said.

But U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D-12th District) he said on a satellite radio program on July 3 that Biden will need to show “that he’s up to the task” if he decides to stay in the race, adding that Vice President Kamala Harris should become the Democratic nominee if Biden steps down.

The campaign said the weekend drive through the “blue wall states” — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — is part of a July push that includes a $50 million media campaign. It will also include an “aggressive” travel schedule that will see Biden, Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff visit every battleground state. Her organizing program aims to knock on more than 3 million doors in July and August, the campaign said.

Biden’s opponent, former President Donald Trump to visit Pennsylvania next weekend, with a rally in Butler County, north of Pittsburgh, days before the Republican National Convention opens in Milwaukee. Neither candidate has spent much time in the western half of the state so far in this campaign cycle.

Trump to Campaign in Butler Ahead of Republican National Convention

With a few exceptions, Trump’s performance in the debate did not generate as much interest as Biden’s, but CNN fact check The presumptive Republican nominee was found to have made more than 30 false statements during the debate, many of which have since been debunked.

Sunday will be Biden’s first visit to Harrisburg Area from 2020 Campaignwhen he gave a Labor Day speech at the AFL-CIO state headquarters and said he would be “the strongest union president we’ve ever had.” He recently visited Pennsylvania in May, when he and Harris took off an initiative of the Black Voters for Biden-Harris campaign in Philadelphia.

Trump campaigned in Philadelphia in June, speaking on the campus of Temple Universitywhere he first appeared on stage in 2024 with Republican U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick. And Trump last visited Harrisburg in February, speaking at National Rifle Association Event where he promised the audience that “no one will touch your firearms.”

Biden defeated Trump in Pennsylvania in 2020 by just over 80,000 votes.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. to add Biden’s arrival in Philadelphia, and at 11:55 a.m. with Biden’s remarks.

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