Joe Biden was spending the final days of the US presidential campaign appealing to Black supporters to vote in-person during a pandemic that has disproportionally affected their communities, betting that a strong turnout will boost his chances in states that could decide the election.
Biden was in Philadelphia on Sunday, the largest city in what is emerging as the most hotly contested battleground in the closing 48 hours of the campaign. He participated in a “souls to the polls” event that is part of a nationwide effort to organize Black churchgoers to vote.
“We’re going to address systemic racism and build real economic opportunity of equality for the Black community. The blinders have been taken off. The American people have seen, they’ve seen how bad things are,” Biden said at the drive-in event, shouting to be heard over the blaring car horns.
He declared that Trump’s handling of COVID-19 was “almost criminal” and that the pandemic was a “mass casualty event in the Black community.”
“When Americans vote, America will be heard. When America is heard, I believe the message is going to be loud and clear: It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home,” he later added.
His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, was in Georgia, a longtime Republican stronghold that Democrats believe could flip if Black voters show up in force. The first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket, she encouraged a racially diverse crowd in a rapidly growing Atlanta suburb to “honor the ancestors” by voting, invoking the memory of the late civil rights legend, longtime Rep. John Lewis.
Biden’s return to Philadelphia underscores the significance of Pennsylvania, the Rust Belt state that helped deliver President Donald Trump the White House four years ago.
Biden has visited Pennsylvania more times than any other battleground state this cycle, and Philadelphia remains a key base of Democratic support in the state. Biden and the rest of his top surrogates — his wife Jill, Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff — will also fan out across the state on Monday.
While Biden’s campaign argues the Democrat can still win without Pennsylvania, Trump’s path to victory would narrow considerably without the state’s 20 electoral votes.
The president has made Pennsylvania a priority as well – he held four rallies across the state on Saturday and will return Monday for a campaign event in Scranton, Biden’s hometown.