PHILADELPHIA (CN) – On a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon, former Vice President Joe Biden stepped on-stage in a blue button-down shirt to open his first campaign rally in Philadelphia across the street from the Rocky steps.
With a smile, he greeted the cheering crowd.
“Look,” he said. “The reason we’re here is because, in a literal sense, this was the birthplace of democracy.”
Philadelphia, he said, is where two of the most important documents in history were written, referring to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
“Those words are the basis for the American creed. Equality. Equity. Fairness. America didn’t live up to that promise for most of its people at the time, for people of color, for women,” Biden said. “But we are born of the idea that every single solitary person in this country — no matter where they start, no matter where they’re from — there’s not a single thing they cannot do if they work at it.”
The democratic-nominee and current presidential front-runner, who entered the race in April, spoke to an estimated crowd of 2,000 about unity within the democratic party — a path, his campaign argues, that will lead to the defeat of President Donald Trump.
“One people, one nation,” Biden said. “Our constitution doesn’t begin with the phrase we the Democrats or we the Republicans.”
Biden said that employing politics that demonize the other party is ripping our country “apart at the seams.” He referred to Trump as the “divider-in-chief.”
“He holds out the other as the source of all the problems,” Biden said.
“It comes at a gigantic cost — and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. It weakens us. It divides us,” he continued, preaching that the best America acts as one.
For Lisa Friedlander, a Philadelphia resident who lives just a few blocks away from the parkway where the rally was held, Biden’s is a message of that unity resonates.
“In my head, he is the anti-Trump. He represents to me what’s good about America,” she said.
She also pointed to the fact that he is already a household name and has a good resume for the job.
“He’s got more than 30 years in government and he’s been vice president,” Friedlander said. “In a different time, there are a lot of other amazing candidates that are out there that I might have voted for, but right now I think Biden is the most electable and the most likely to beat Trump.”
Jennifer Connolly, who lives in the Philadelphia suburb Glenn Mills, came to the rally to show her support.
“He’s a stable being, a reasonable person,” Connolly said. “I think he’s electable — the key thing.”
Biden’s campaign announced Thursday that it would be headquartering in Philadelphia.
“Philadelphia is a thriving city and a testament to the American spirit, built by the ingenuity and tenacity of ordinary people who did extraordinary things,” Greg Shultz, Biden’s campaign manager, said in a press release announcing the decision. “Its storied history and celebrated diversity will serve as an inspiration for Team Biden, and is the ideal setting to continue our fight for the soul of this nation.”
Pennsylvania is considered a key swing state for any Democratic nominee taking on Trump in 2020. According to a Quinnipiac University poll that was conducted from May 9 to 14 with 431 registered Democratic voters, Biden currently holds about 39% of the Democratic vote. His three closest competitors, respectively, are Bernie Sanders (13%), Kamala Harris (8%), and Elizabeth Warren (8%).
Also conducted by Quinnipiac, another poll of 978 voters estimated that Biden would lead Trump in Pennsylvania 53% to 42% of the vote, whereas Sanders and Warren would lead Trump 50% to 43%, and 47% to 44%, respectively. Harris polled evenly with Trump, each taking 45% of the vote.
Biden is also ahead in fundraising, having earned $6.3 million his first day thanks to a private fundraiser at the home of Comcast executive, David Cohen. Warren and Sanders, who have all sworn off taking donations from “big money” contributors, lobbyists, and corporate PACs, all earned significantly less on their first fundraising days. Sanders capped at $5.3 million, Harris at $1.5 million and Warren at $299,000. Following this rally, Biden is set to make appearances in three states Trump won in 2016: Tennessee, Florida, and Texas. Details about these trips have yet to be announced.