With Election Day less than a day away, former Vice President Joe Biden visited western Pennsylvania to make his final pitch to voters. After speaking in Cleveland earlier in the day Monday, Biden kicked-off a three-stop swing through the region with a mid-afternoon speech in Beaver County.
*This story was last updated on Monday, Nov. 2, at 10:25 p.m.
“We’re in the homestretch now … It’s ‘go time.’ Tomorrow’s the day,” he told labor leaders and union members gathered at the Community College of Beaver County.
The Democrat also touted his historical ties to organized labor. “The one thing I’ve always been able to count on my whole career: unions. I know how to say ‘union,’” he said to cheers.
While Biden has earned numerous endorsements from organized labor, it remains an open question how many white working-class voters will back him, after tipping the scales in President Donald Trump’s favor in 2016. On Monday, Biden emphasized his pro-worker stances and faulted Trump for failing to negotiate a new COVID-19 stimulus package with congressional Democrats.
“He refused to bring Congress together … to provide for the families, the working families, because he thinks Wall Street built this country,” Biden said of the president. “Well, I’ve got news for him – you already know it: Wall Street didn’t build America. The middle class did. And unions built the middle class."
The former vice president went on to highlight his “Build Back Better” plan for the economy, which would seek to create more union manufacturing jobs. The plan proposes to offer tax incentives to employers that reshore jobs in the U.S. while also favoring domestic manufacturers in government contracts. Biden also pledges to invest heavily in infrastructure, largely with the goal of transitioning to renewable energy.
On Monday, however, he reiterated that his concerns about the environment would not threaten a major industry in the region. “No matter how many times Trump tries to lie about it, I will not ban fracking," Biden said.
Following his visit to Beaver County, Biden travelled to Pittsburgh for two drive-in rallies. The first, which focused on Black voters, took place in the city’s North Point Breeze neighborhood. Vehicles filled the parking lot outside Lexington Technology Park, though many in the predominantly Black audience stood outside, wearing masks, when Biden spoke.
“We’re done with the chaos. We’re done with the racism. We’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate,” Biden said, referring to Trump.
The Democrat later condemned the president for not denouncing white supremacy during the first presidential debate.
In addition to attacking Trump’s corporate tax cuts and vows to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Biden focused on the disproportionate harm COVID-19 has caused people of color, both medically and economically. Alluding to reports that Trump has suggested he would fire the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, Biden continued, “I’ve got a better idea: Let’s fire Trump, and I’ll hire Dr. Fauci … The first step to beating the virus is defeating Donald Trump.”
Chay Chaney, of the Hill District, was among those who attended. An aide to state Rep. Jake Wheately, Chaney expressed hope that Biden “can help … Black and brown people” and added, “I feel like our current president does not help Black people at all.”
Following the rally in North Point Breeze, the Biden campaign broadcast its second drive-in rally with footage from both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, spoke on a stage outside Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field as supporters honked enthusiastically from their cars. Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, spoke from Philadelphia: The two were joined by a star-studded line-up that included performances by Lady Gaga in Pittsburgh and John Legend and Common in Philadelphia.
The Pittsburgh rally drew such a sizable crowd that traffic seeking to enter the event wrapped around multiple blocks. Many stood outside their cars, bundled up against the chill of the evening and holding Biden-Harris signs.
In her remarks, Harris encouraged supporters in their final push to get out the vote: “From the time the polls open tomorrow until the time they close, every minute counts.” In a nod to the expectation that many states, including Pennsylvania, will take days to count ballots, she added, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
During her performance, Lady Gaga shared that she once was engaged to a man from Lancaster, Pa. “I loved him so much. It just did not work out,” the artist said. “But I still love my Pennsylvania guy: I love Joe. Joe’s my new Pennsylvania guy.”
Biden, who spent his early childhood in Scranton, made it to the stage at 9 p.m. Visibly energized, he proclaimed, “Folks I have a feeling we’re coming together for a big win tomorrow.”
The Democrat again lambasted Trump for his response to the coronavirus, and revisited his core economic themes, with an emphasis on strengthening unions and preserving the Affordable Care Act.
Biden closed his remarks, and more than a year of campaigning, by declaring, “Folks, it’s time to stand up and take back our democracy. We can do this. We can be better than we’ve been. We can be who we are at our best.”
Pennsylvania also made it onto Trump’s Election Eve itinerary, with the president holding an afternoon rally in the borough of Avoca, near Scranton. The president had also planned to visit North Carolina, Michigan, and Wisconsin on Monday.
Pennsylvania, with its 20 electoral college votes, has emerged as a critical swing state. It broke narrowly for Trump in 2016, after consistently voting for Democrats since 1988, when George H.W. Bush was elected. Biden’s visit Monday took place in two counties that became mirror images of each other in 2016, with Beaver County supporting Trump with 57 percent of the vote and Allegheny County delivering 56 percent of its ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump and Biden have made near-weekly trips to Pennsylvania over the last month – about a year and a half after Biden launched his campaign at a union hall in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.
On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence held rallies in Latrobe and Erie, while Harris spoke at three events on the eastern side of the state.