Biden and Harris make a rare joint campaign appearance to shore up Black voters' support


PHILADELPHIA — Preparing for a new phase of the campaign as Donald Trump’s criminal trial nears the end, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will make a rare joint campaign appearance here Wednesday to shore up a critical constituency in a critical state: Black voters in Pennsylvania.

The Democratic ticket will be joined by a rising Democratic star and likely major surrogate, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, as it works to counter Trump’s efforts to make inroads among the voters who helped power Biden to the nomination and then the White House four years ago.

Biden’s campaign has long argued that it sees Black voters differently from how past Democratic campaigns have — a targeted voter group whose support is courted from start to finish, rather than a reliable turnout engine that just needs to be revved up in the fall. On Wednesday, it launches Black Voters for Biden at the end of a month that has been characterized some of the most sustained voter outreach of the campaign to date.

Biden aides teased that Wednesday’s rally will be one of the larger of the campaign so far as they aim for a show of force on the trail while a New York jury prepares to hand down a verdict in Trump’s hush money trial. Biden, Harris and Moore will also be joined by Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, the first Black man to hold that role; Cherelle Parker, Philadelphia’s first Black female mayor; Congressional Black Caucus Chair Steven Horsford, D-Nev.; and others.

“Joe Biden’s approval rating is underwater in Pennsylvania, and he knows it. Despite Biden and Harris’s best attempts to gaslight Keystone State voters, they know exactly who is to blame for soaring costs, a spiraling border crisis, and staggering crime rates across the country,” Rachel Lee, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement.

Support from Black voters in Philadelphia is a critical element of the Biden strategy to again carry Pennsylvania, which put Biden over the 270 electoral vote threshold four years ago. Biden won 81% of the vote in Philadelphia four years ago, though his margin of victory over Trump narrowed slightly compared to four years earlier.

Isaiah Thomas, a City Council member who launched a local initiative known as “Black Men Vote” with fellow council members to encourage voting, said he has seen some resistance in the community as he targets younger Black men. He said misinformation — and not just online — has been a particular challenge.

“Every time I go on social media, I’m trying to watch a game at night, I try to listen to some music or some YouTube or something like that, it’s everywhere. I’m always getting bombarded with how bad Biden is,” he said.

Thomas said it’s too early to say whether the initial concerns raise alarm for November, but he encouraged the Biden team to do more to get its message out.

“It’s good that the polling numbers are out there, because it puts us on alert,” he said.

The Rev. Mark Tyler, the pastor at Philadelphia’s Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, said he thinks that as the summer begins and people see more of Trump, Biden’s standing will improve.

“Black voters in particular need to remember the Donald Trump of 2016 to 2020 and the way that he conducted himself in the way of caring for our issues or ignoring our issues,” he said.

The Biden campaign is relying on what campaign officials refer to as “trusted messengers” like Moore to help carry its message to more skeptical voters who may not want to hear from either of the major-party nominees. After the rally, Biden will visit a Black-owned small business to try to tap into another source of potential local validators.

Moore is just the third Black person elected as a governor in U.S. history and the first in Maryland. He has said he expects to be on the road regularly for Biden making the case to Black voters across key battlegrounds. He joined Biden in Georgia in March as part of his post-State of the Union battleground tour.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Julia Nikhinson / AP file)Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Julia Nikhinson / AP file)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Julia Nikhinson / AP file)

The campaign says Wednesday’s launch of Black Voters for Biden will be followed by events across the country, with surrogates visiting barbershops, attending block parties and visiting churches through the weekend.

“​​While we are busy putting in the work to earn Black America’s support — Donald Trump continues to show just how ignorant he is. Hosting janky rap concerts to hide the fact that he lacks the resources and competence to genuinely engage our community,” Biden principal deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said in a statement. “We will continue to be aggressive, innovative, and thorough in our work to earn the support of the very voters who sent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House in 2020.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com



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