President Biden visits Philadelphia church and campaign office

The pastor called it divine intervention.

President Joe Biden, under increasing pressure from Democrats to drop out of the presidential race, went to a West Oak Lane church on Sunday after a previously scheduled appearance at a teachers union rally was canceled.

After stating that he needed the “Almighty Lord” to suspend his candidacy, which he admitted, may only have a few days to saveBiden received a rousing motivational speech from ministers from the majority-black Mount Airy Church of God in Christ.

Biden said it was “good to be home” in a compact but powerful seven-minute speech. He didn’t stutter as he spoke from prepared remarks at the lectern, saying, “We are all imperfect beings” and emphasizing his commitment to service.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of America, honestly,” he said, adding aloud: “If we stick together.”

Bishop J. Louis Felton, the church’s senior pastor, compared Biden’s current situation to the story of Joseph in the Bible, who was “betrayed by his brothers” and told him to fight on like Joseph.

“It’s a tough race, a tough fight, but we’re coming out of the hole,” Felton said. “We’ve been hurt, we’ve been vilified, but we’re coming out of the hole. Go, Joseph. You can do it, Joseph!”

Biden’s visit to Philadelphia — before another visit to Harrisburg on Sunday afternoon — is part of a series of campaign events he is holding following a disastrous debate performance that split some in the party over whether he should remain the nominee.

A small handful of members of Congress have said they have lost faith in his ability to defeat President Donald Trump and have called on him to resign. A larger group of House and Senate Democrats are reportedly silent and considering whether to sign on to calls to reject the nomination.

Biden also visited a campaign office in Roxborough, where he spoke with campaign volunteers without a script. He later flew Air Force One to Harrisburg for an ice cream campaign social event with the first lady at AFSCME Council 13.

Biden’s brief remarks in Harrisburg were also unscripted and focused largely on his support for labor unions and his early life in Scranton. At the third event, he struggled several times to deliver parts of his speech and stumbled over a few words.

It was at least Biden’s sixth visit to Philadelphia this year as he continues to campaign in the hugely influential swing state. The region has also become something of a home base for him during difficult times, and no week has been more politically challenging than the last.

Trump, who held a rally in Philadelphia late last month, has also prioritized Pennsylvania and said he will return next week to a rally in Butler County, near Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania Democrats Who Supported Biden

In Pennsylvania, Biden was joined by party leaders including Sen. Bob Casey, who is fighting his own tough reelection battle; Sen. John Fetterman, who had a poor debate performance in the 2022 Senate race and has been a vocal defender of Biden; and Gov. Josh Shapiro, another Biden supporter whose name has often come up as a possible successor as president or vice president.

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle L. Parker and U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle and Madeleine Dean also campaigned with Biden on Sunday. The region’s other Democratic House members, U.S. Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon, Chrissy Houlahan and Dwight Evans, who is recovering from a stroke, did not attend the events.

During a visit to his campaign office in Roxborough, Fetterman stood next to Biden and said, “I know what it’s like to have a tough debate, and I stand here as your senator.”

Dean recalled being at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building. “Democracy is at stake,” she said. “There’s one man who gets it. And that’s Joe Biden.”

In Harrisburg, Biden met with Shapiro — who defended the president and said he supported his reelection — during an unscheduled stop at Denim Coffee, a coffee shop across the street from the state Capitol. Over strawberry smoothies (Biden’s order) and iced coffees (Shapiro’s), they chatted, but it was unclear what they were talking about. Biden dropped $20 into the tip jar.

Only a handful of the 213 Democratic members of Congress have publicly called on Biden to withdraw from the race, but the coming week will be crucial because apparently there are more members is considering speaking out or signing letters informing Biden that his re-election campaign should end.

Biden has been adamant about staying in the race, telling George Stephanopoulos in an interview Friday that only “Mr. Almighty” could convince him to end his campaign. His team has sought to tamp down debate panic by scheduling multiple events and interviews, including one with WURD in Philadelphia.

Surrogates have been scattered across the country. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a potential successor if Biden were to leave the race, campaigned for him in Bucks County this weekend.

But that response had its pitfalls. In an ABC interview, Biden downplayed the seriousness of the concerns, declined to take a cognitive test and said that if Trump won, his response would be to say he did “the best I could.”

Instead of the content of his radio interviews making the news, reports that his campaign had sent suggested questions dominated headlines. The campaign claimed that was standard practice, not a requirement for interviews. But WURD said Sunday it was parting ways with the interviewer, Andrea Lawful-Sanders, over her use of predetermined interview questions.

The larger picture of the debate’s fallout is still emerging. A New York Times poll found Biden trailing Trump by about 6 points nationally since the debate. Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll Among the key swing states, Biden has managed to close the gap on Trump in some key states since the debate, though his standing in Pennsylvania has fallen.

As the Democratic chaos unfolds, some Republicans are trying to seize the moment. GOP Senate candidate Dave McCormick called Casey “Biden’s best friend” in a statement that accused Casey of being dishonest about Biden’s mental acuity.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley noted Biden’s low level of support in the state ahead of his visit. “From crippling inflation and apartment prices that make life unattainable police shortages AND deadly fentanyl “that are making communities less safe, it’s no wonder voters in Pennsylvania are lining up to help Make America Great Again by supporting President Trump,” he said.

“He may be tired, but we all are tired”

Biden campaign officials say the outrage reflects the views of commentators rather than ordinary people.

On Sunday, a diminutive group of protesters gathered outside the church saying it was time for him to step down.

Peter Lehu of Mount Airy held a sign that read, “Thanks Joe but time to go.”

“I think he needs to step aside and step aside quickly,” Lehu said. “I’m terrified of another Trump presidency. I think a second one would be more disastrous and dangerous for people than the first one. And I’m afraid that in all of Biden’s public appearances, he doesn’t seem to be able to articulate himself, to present an answer in a way that convinces people that he’s going to be the right president for the next four years.”

Lehu said he will vote for a Democrat regardless of who the candidate is.

Those attending the services had greater confidence in the president.

“I would prefer someone who is honest, loves democracy and loves people,” said Fern Hamilton-Strother of West Oak Lane.

“Why would he back out? He’s got my vote, so I expect him to be there.”

Vera Primus of Mount Airy said her heart goes out to Biden.

“He may be tired, but we all are tired,” Primus said. “I don’t want this idiot here who doesn’t care about anyone and lies. I’m sticking with Biden, I don’t care how old he is. He could be in a wheelchair.”

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