On Wednesday, Obama will hold a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, and he will speak directly to Black voters — and Black men specifically — the Biden campaign said. The former president is also willing to discuss the value of making a plan to vote early.
In a presidential election that has seen both candidates waste attention onto the state, making constant interviews and pouring tens of millions of dollars into promoting here, the rally serves an essential purpose beyond ginning up excitement for the Democratic ticket.
It’s an implicit reminder that of the three Rust Belt states that flipped to Donald Trump in 2016 — the other two being Michigan and Wisconsin — Pennsylvania continues to be the biggest and most important to Biden’s chances of victory.
“One, without Pennsylvania, mathematically, the president has no path to 270. And two, it’s a state that is in play but the former president remains intensely popular,” said Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania. “His ability to draw attention and energize is certainly unparalleled by any other Democrat.”
The fact that Democrats are using their top campaigner to attract Black voters in particular throughout his first in-person stop this year further emphasizes how critical African American turnout — especially in big cities like Philadelphia — is to Biden’s chances.
At the same time, it highlights the concerns some Democrats have of whether Biden is doing enough to mobilize the key voting bloc, especially after Black turnout declined nationwide throughout the presidential race four years ago.
“We’re going to be the battleground, and I think President Obama’s visit is a reflection of that,” said the majority leader and a local surrogate for the Biden campaign, Democrat Cherelle Parker.
“His intentions are to remind the Black community, and particularly Black men, that your vote counts, and rest assured that in no way, shape or form are we trying to take it for granted. And it’s important not just to think it, but that is important to acknowledge.”
Obama is assumed to speak to Black voters about the meaning of voting and the power they have to change Pennsylvania blue, according to a Biden aide. Biden, who is opposing Trump in Nashville on Thursday, is not visiting the Pennsylvania visit beside Obama.