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Biden keeps energy of SOTU address in campaign stop near Philly

(Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
March 8, 2024

WALLINGFORD — President Joe Biden returned to Pennsylvania on Friday for his fourth visit of the year and his first campaign event after Thursday’s State of the Union (SOTU) address.

“Hello Delco!” the president said Friday, using Delaware County’s nickname. “If you’re tired, you probably watched my address last night.”

First lady Jill Biden, who reminded the audience she is “a Philly girl,” introduced the president, and reiterated the message of the president’s State of the Union address: That returning former President Donald Trump to office would be bad for democracy.

“We can’t wake up the day after the election like we did in 2016. Terrified of the future ahead of us thinking, oh my god, what just happened?,” she said. “What are we going to do now? No, we must meet this moment, as if our rights are at stake because they are.”

 President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden spoke to an audience in suburban Philadelphia on Friday, March 8, 2024 (Capital Star photo by John Cole)

The president underlined the stakes of the upcoming election and largely echoed the message he had shared with the nation the night before, setting the stage for the likely rematch in November with Trump. 

“In my address, I spoke about how far we’ve come since we took office. I talked about how much is at stake, folks, our freedoms really are on the ballot this November,” Biden said to a crowd of supporters at Strath Haven Middle School in Delaware County. “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans are trying to take away our freedoms, that’s not an exaggeration.”

“Well, guess what,” Biden added. “We will not let him.”

On several occasions during his SOTU address, Biden criticized his predecessor, but didn’t mention Trump by name. On Friday, he not only identified Trump by name but pointed to him as a source of many of the country’s problems.

“He came to office determined to overturn Roe v Wade,” Biden said. “In fact, he’s bragged about it repeatedly, he’s the reason it got overturned.”

Biden said that Trump wants to pass a national abortion ban. If reelected and if Democrats win the majority in Congress, Biden said he would make Roe v Wade “the law of the land again.”

In February, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law, which could impact in vitro fertilization in the state. Biden mentioned a woman in Alabama who planned to have a child through IVF treatments, who was affected by the decision. 

State Rep. Jen O’Mara (D-Delaware), the mother of an IVF baby, spoke to the Capital-Star ahead of Biden’s speech and said she was glad to hear the president explicitly call for the right to IVF for parents in America. 

Biden said the issue will be on the ballot again in November. 

“Those bragging about overturning Roe v Wade have no clue about the power of women in America,” Biden said. “They found out when reproductive freedom was on the ballot in 2022 and 2023 and they’ll find out again in 2024.”

Dr. Chichi Momah, owner of Springfield Pharmacy in Delaware County, introduced the Bidens to the audience, praising the Biden administration’s push to lower drug costs and passing the Inflation Reduction Act. 

“Over the past few years, I’ve seen countless patients struggle to pay for basic medications like insulin and vaccines,” Momah said, adding “we have an ally in President Joe Biden.”

Biden touted this during his address, defending the Affordable Care Act and saying efforts from Republicans to overturn the healthcare law would not happen with him in office.

Biden painted a positive picture of the current state of the economy, citing a low unemployment rate and wages being up. He said the days of “trickle down economics are over,” criticized Trump for the tax reform legislation passed during his administration, and called for an increase to taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations.

State Sen. John Kane (D-Delaware), who was the Business Manager for Plumbers Local 690 before winning a seat in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, said that Biden understands the importance of unions building the middle class in America.

Kane said it would be easy to convince union workers why they should support Biden’s reelection campaign.

“We vote for our friends and we defeat our enemies,” Kane told the Capital-Star. “The other side is our enemy as of right now. They want to abolish everything that we worked so hard for in the union.”

Biden also criticized Trump for his scheduled meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, saying the Hungarian leader believes democracy doesn’t work. 

Biden said world leaders have told him that he needs to defeat Trump because their democracies are also at stake.

Like Biden, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is seeking reelection in a contest that could determine which party will hold the majority in the Senate next year.  Biden mentioned “Bobby Casey” by name during his SOTU address and reiterated his message on Friday, calling for the passage of the Pennsylvania senior senator’s legislation aimed at stopping “shrinkflation” by large corporations.

Casey lauded Biden’s SOTU address in a press release on Thursday, saying the “state of the American economy is strong,” adding that there is still work to be done. 

The Casey  campaign sent out a fundraising email to supporters on Friday afternoon promoting a limited edition “Bobby Casey” sticker.

Following multiple candidates being removed from the ballot after petition challenges, it is likely that Casey will face Republican David McCormick in November’s general election. During the campaign, McCormick has attempted to paint Casey as a “rubber stamp” for Biden. 

Before taking the stage at the middle school, the Bidens stopped at the home of  family friend Jack Cunicelli in nearby Rose Valley. Cunicelli and his brother David own 320 Market Cafe, and the president met with them and their families for a short time.

All of Biden’s visits to Pennsylvania thus far in 2024 have been in the eastern half of the state, signaling his campaign’s focus on driving up big numbers in the Philadelphia area. 

O’Mara is the chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus’ southeast delegation, the largest group in the Pennsylvania House Democratic caucus. She said it’s no coincidence that Biden has made multiple appearances to the region so far in 2024. 

“Delco delivers and so does the southeast of Pennsylvania,” O’Mara told the Capital-Star. 

Biden racked up big margins in Philadelphia and its collar counties in 2020, winning all of them by double digits, with the exception of Bucks County, where Biden bested Trump by 4 points. 

“We are going to make up the difference in voter turnout if we can get Democrats, Independents, and those Haley voters that are out there that want to support Biden, they’re here,” O’Mara said. “And that’s the work that the campaign has to do now.”

Trump has also visited Pennsylvania this year, delivering a keynote address at the National Rifle Association forum in Harrisburg and unveiling a new line of shoes at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia

Polling shows Biden and Trump neck-and-neck in Pennsylvania. 

The Cook Political Report rates Pennsylvania as one of six states in its “toss-up” category for the presidential election. The Keystone State is the one with the most electoral votes up for grabs.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.