President Joe Biden appealed to black voters in Philadelphia

President Joe Biden arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday for the fifth time this year to make his case for why Black voters should support his re-election bid against former President Donald Trump, as polls showed dwindling support for Biden among non-white voters across the board. standing.

“Because you voted, we are investing more than ever in Black families and Black communities,” Biden said at a rally at Girard College. “It’s a promise we made and we kept.”

The president chose Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold where 43% of the population is Black, to launch his “Black Voters for Biden-Harris” campaign and attend an event with nearby local business owners. He was joined at the rally by Vice President Kamala Harris, who touted the Biden administration’s achievements on issues that disproportionately impact Black voters, such as lowering the cost of insulin for people with diabetes and working to eliminate student debt.

“In 2020, Black voters in Philadelphia and across the country helped President Biden and me win the White House. “Yes, yes,” Harris told the crowd. “And in 2024, with your voice and your power, we will win again.”

Students at the predominantly Black Philadelphia Preparatory School stood in maroon and gray uniforms to watch the president address a crowd that included national and local Black Democratic leaders, including Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle L. Parker, Maryland Governor Wes Moore and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Before Biden spoke, a drum line played and live gospel singers filled the cavernous gymnasium with sound. Biden’s campaign hopes to capture that kind of energy as voter fatigue and low enthusiasm threaten his re-election chances. Even fans expressed some concerns on Wednesday.

City Councilwoman Kendra Brooks said none of her adult daughters, ages 19, 23 and 33, wanted to join her for Wednesday’s meeting with the president.

“None of them were particularly excited about coming here,” Brooks said. “I’m sure they will come out and vote, but enthusiasm is something we will have to deal with. Even among young, active people who are committed people.”

One of the daughters, Brooks said, is a “strong activist in the movement,” but is “tired and not really hearing the message behind what’s important to her and what’s going to happen as she gets older and gets on with life. And she is still very bitter about what is happening in Gaza.”

It’s clear why Biden chose Philadelphia, the largest and bluest city in a key swing state, to launch his efforts among black voters.

For years, Philadelphia’s majority-black districts overwhelmingly supported Democratic presidential candidates, but Democrats’ statewide vote share has declined in recent years. In 2020, Biden received 95% of the vote in majority-Black precincts in Philadelphia, a percentage comparable to other Democratic presidential candidates since 2004.

However, turnout was much lower for Biden and Hillary Clinton than for Barack Obama or even John Kerry in 2004.

In last year’s general election, overall turnout in Philadelphia increased compared to other non-yearly elections, while the city’s share of the statewide Democratic vote declined. Combined with an increase in turnout in wealthier, mostly white districts, this could spell trouble for Democrats turning to Philadelphia for help in winning the presidency.

Throughout his speech, Biden credited Black voters with his victory over Trump in 2020. They also played a role in his primary victory. US President Jim Clyburn’s support for Biden ahead of the South Carolina primary secured his unsuccessful campaign the nomination. Now he hopes deputies like Clyburn and others in the room Wednesday will help motivate the base again.

“Our campaign believes that Black voters deserve to hear from Team Biden-Harris and they deserve to earn their vote, not assume it,” the campaign memo said.

Council member Isaiah Thomas, who is co-leading an initiative to register more black men to vote in Philadelphia, believes young people are driving the decreased Democratic turnout in Philadelphia. But Thomas said he didn’t want black voters to be blamed for the party’s struggles, given that they have helped Democrats win elections for decades.

“Don’t put this on voters of color – at least 40% of the white population will vote for someone who literally led an insurrection,” Thomas said. “You can’t have that much support for a person who tried to overthrow a country and then say, ‘It’s the fault of communities of color.’”

Ahead of Biden’s trip, Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Tabas criticized the president, calling him “hopelessly out of touch with reality.”

Tabas and the state Republican Party criticized Biden over inflation for Pennsylvania consumers. Experts to talk It is inappropriate to treat rising consumer prices as a direct result of Biden’s presidency, even though some of his actions – such as $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed in 2022 – have contributed to inflation over time.

“Joe Biden is clearly the wrong man for this job,” Tabas said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.), a staunch Trump supporter, said he believes many Black voters who supported Biden in 2020 won’t stick with him because he hasn’t kept his promises.

“Black voters, like many voters, in 2020 said, ‘You know what? We need a change. We like what Joe Biden is saying,” Meuser said. “None of [Biden’s promises] has become. We are more divided than ever and nothing has been delivered to the inner city. The only thing that has been delivered is the high prices of groceries.”

It was clear from Biden’s remarks that he views his Republican opponent as a key tool in mobilizing the Black vote in his re-election campaign.

“This is the same guy who tried to use tear gas as you peacefully protested the murder of George Floyd,” Biden said. “This is the same guy who still calls the Central Park Five guilty. …This is the owner who refuses to grant you an apartment because of the color of your skin.”

Biden often chooses Philadelphia or the region for significant campaign moments. He started the year with a gigantic speech near Valley Forge National Historical Park, and in April he gave a civil rights speech at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

Girard College serves approximately 300 students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds in grades first through twelfth. Biden has visited the university before, including: in 2012, while serving as vice president, when he spoke at the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service in Greater Philadelphia.

Protesters involved in the “Dump Biden” campaign gathered outside Girard College, calling the president and vice president “Genocide Joe” and “Killer Kamala” and chanting “Free Palestine.”

“Biden has turned his back on the value of life,” the group’s executive director Hassan Abdel Salam said in a statement. “The only question is whether you are on the side of life.”

Zion Bennett, 18, a senior at Girard College, said he was thrilled by the “shock and surprise” of the president’s speech. Bennett finds some of Trump’s views and past comments unacceptable and plans to vote for Biden.

“I heard what Trump said and I saw what Trump did, and I just personally prefer Biden to Trump,” he said.

After the rally, Biden met with several dozen supporters and petite Black business owners at SOUTH Restaurant on North Broad Street.

The president summed up his visit by saying: “I came to say: ‘Thank you.’ And I’m not going anywhere.

He praised his administration’s $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill and aid to rebuild I-95 after part of it collapsed and in response to the Baltimore bridge collapse. In off-script remarks, Biden called the economy “the strongest in the world” despite polls showing most Americans are concerned about inflation.

“What we need to do,” Biden said, “is make sure the economy works for everyone in all cases, so everyone has a chance.”

Authors John Duchneskie, Rob Tornoe, Aliya Schneider and Emily Bloch contributed to this article.

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