PHILADELPHIA (CN) — Marking his first in-person campaign event of 2020, former President Barack Obama pressed Philadelphians to vote at a drive-in car rally outside Lincoln Financial Field Wednesday night.
“You guys delivered for me twice and I am back here tonight to ask you to deliver the White House to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” he said, referencing how he had won Pennsylvania in his presidential races in both 2008 and 2012.
A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday placed Biden ahead of Trump by 6 points in the state. President Donald Trump won the Keystone State against Hillary Clinton by less than a point in 2016. But Obama emphasized, Biden’s lead in the polls didn’t matter.
“I don’t care about the polls,” he said, recalling how 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was predicted in many polls to take the presidency. “There were a whole bunch of polls last time. Didn’t work out.”
Saying that the next 13 days leading up to the election are crucial, he pressed voters to vote early in-person or by mail-in ballot and push their family and friends to do so as well.
According to Joe Biden’s campaign, Obama’s speech was catered specifically to Black voters, with a focus on Black men. Philadelphia is home to the state’s largest number of Black voters, who make up about 10% of the state’s electorate.
Exit polls indicated that a significant number of Black men, 14%, backed Trump, compared to 1% of Black women.
Obama also drew upon his last visit to Philadelphia wherein he made a speech from the Constitution Center for Joe Biden’s Democratic nomination. He reiterated that he’s sat in the Oval Office with both men running for president and only one realizes the weight of the position.
The former president had stayed out of the Democratic primary, but has recently stepped up his criticisms of the Trump administration.
Trump, he said, treats the presidency like a reality television show.
“The thing is this is not a reality show. This is reality. The rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him not taking the job seriously,” he said, pointing to the more than 220,000 Covid-19 deaths that have happened under Trump’s watch and the business and jobs that have disappeared as a result of his poor handling of the pandemic.
“We literally left this White House a pandemic playbook that literally showed them what to do before the pandemic hit our shores. They probably used it to prop up a wobbly table somewhere,” he said.
While the pandemic would have been challenging for any president, the idea that Trump “has done anything but screw this up is simply not true,” Obama continued.
He indicated that other countries have been more effective at preventing Covid-19’s spread and that Trump has hurt the U.S. economy after inheriting it in good standing.
“Presidents up for reelection usually ask if the country is better off than it was four years ago,” Obama continued. “The only people better off than they were four years ago are the billionaires who got his tax cuts.”
He also pointed to some of Trump’s media recent scandals like the discovery that he has a secret Chinese bank account and that he paid just $750 in income taxes the year he ran for office.
“Can you imagine if I had had a secret Chinese bank account?” he joked. “You think Fox News would have been a little concerned about that? They would have called me Beijing Barry.”
He also joked that he could have paid more in income taxes off his first job at Baskin-Robbins dispensing ice cream.
By contrast, Obama said, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the obvious choice.
“Joe’s no stranger. He’s a native son. Scrappy kid from Scranton. You know him and you know he loves you,” Obama said, emphasizing that Joe and Kamala would work for all Americans, not just the upper class. They have concrete plans and policies, he said.
“Joe is not gonna screw up testing. He’s not gonna call scientists idiots. He’s not gonna host a super spreader event at the White House,” Obama said.
“They believe in a democracy. the right to vote is sacred and that we shouldn't be making people wait in line for ten hours to cast their vote. We should be making it easier to vote. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris believe that no one, especially the president, is above the law. They believe that protest isn't un-American. That’s the way this country was founded,” he added, pressing that Americans must turn out to vote “like never before.”
“Philadelphia, I'm asking you to remember what this country can be,” he said. “What it's like when we treat each other with respect and decency.”
Earlier Wednesday, Obama had a roundtable discussion with local Philadelphian leaders where he talked about increasing voter participation and the importance of instilling democratic values in young people.
Also vying for Pennsylvania voters, Trump visited Erie Tuesday hours before Obama’s speech, speaking to one of three counties that swung to him in 2016 but previously backed Obama.
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