View this post on Instagram
What a great speech from @BarackObama in Philly. Made me so nostalgic for when decency, empathy and strategic thinking were par for the course at the #WhiteHouse. Socially distanced and masked Philly threw a great GOTV rally!! #VictoryStartsHere #LeaveNoOneBehind #BackToBluePA
Nearly every reputable Pennsylvania general election poll since early September has shown Joe Biden with a lead over Donald Trump, but don’t tell that to Barack Obama.
“I don’t care about the polls,” said the former president at his first campaign stop of the 2020 presidential race – a drive-in event – in South Philly Wednesday evening. “There were a whole bunch of polls last time [and it] didn’t work out.”
It was Obama’s first campaign event of the 2020 presidential election season, and it’s not hard to see why. In 2012, Pennsylvania was beginning to lose its status as a perennial swing state since it had gone blue every presidential election year since 1992. But Trump’s 2016 victory in the state was a shock to the Democrats’ system, and Obama’s arrival in Philly is the party’s indication of the Keystone State’s priority status for it in the upcoming election. Furthermore, it’s not hard to see why Philadelphia in particular is on the radar. A big factor in the Democratic loss four years ago was the decline in Black turnout from the previous election – something that hadn’t happened since 1996. Philadelphia, a city that’s 44 percent African American, seemed like a logical place to start. But unlike what one might expect, the substance of Obama’s speech didn’t focus predominantly on Black-specific issues. Above all, Obama railed against Trump’s economic policies, taking issue with the current president’s pre-COVID “strongest economy in the history of our nation” claim.
“Donald Trump likes to claim that he built this economy,” he said. “But America created 1.5 million more jobs in the last three years of the Obama/Biden administration than in the first three years of the Trump/Pence administration … And that was before he could blame the pandemic.”
But still, Obama argued, the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus was by no means unavoidable. Trump’s “botching the pandemic response,” he said, means he’ll be the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose more jobs during his time in office than he created.
“This pandemic would have been challenging for any president,” Obama said. “But this idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this up is just not true.”
For instance, South Korea’s per capita death toll is just 1.3 percent of what America’s is, Obama said. Canada’s is 39 percent.
“Other countries are still struggling with the pandemic, but they’re not doing as bad as we are because they’ve got a government that’s actually been paying attention,” Obama said to an orchestra of honking vehicles and clapping hands. “And that means an economy that doesn’t work.”
Trump’s cabinet appointees also found themselves to be highlights of Obama’s speech. The EPA is run by an energy lobbyist, he warned. The labor department is run by a corporate lobbyist. The interior department is run by an oil lobbyist.
He went on: “You’ve got the education department … run by a billionaire who guts rules designed to protect students from getting ripped off by for-profit colleges and stiff arms students looking for loan relief in the middle of an economic collapse,” he said. “The person who runs Medicaid right now is doing their best to kick people off of Medicaid instead of signing them up for Medicaid.”
Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris won’t “surround themselves with hacks and lobbyists,” Obama said. “They’re going to appoint qualified public servants who actually care about looking out for you.”
Staying on the theme of trying to paint Trump as a symbol of corruption, Obama touched on a recent New York Times report that details the president’s previously unknown Chinese bank account. It’s not a good idea to have a president who “owes a bunch of money to people overseas,” Obama said.
“Can you imagine if I had had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election?” said Obama. “They would have called me Beijing Barry.”
The most recent Pennsylvania poll at this time of writing, conducted by Civiqs from Oct. 17 to 21, showed the former vice president with a 52% to 46% lead. A Morning Consult poll conducted from Oct. 11-20 showed Biden with a 52% to 43% lead.