Biden makes his play for Black voters in Philadelphia: ‘We’re gonna make Donald Trump a loser again’

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris courted Black voters at a rare joint campaign event on Wednesday in Philadelphia as part of their continued efforts to shore up the critical Democratic constituency.

The event was held at Girard College, a five-day boarding school that is predominantly Black, where Mr Biden and Ms Harris pitched the crowd on policies that will positively impact the Black community, including a $35 cap on the price of insulin for seniors and efforts to combat gun violence.

Mr Biden stressed that he would need their assistance one more time to retire Donald Trump.

“Because Black Americans voted, Kamala and I are president and vice president of the United States,” he said. “Because you voted Donald Trump is a defeated former president. And with your vote in 2024, we’re gonna make Donald Trump a loser again.”

During her speech introducing Mr Biden, Ms Harris received an enthusiastic round of applause when she noted the presiden’s cancellation of student loan debt. Meanwhile, Mr Biden trotted out his own record of nominating Black judges to the federal bench — including Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court — and noted that his administration has taken significant steps toward reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug. He also slammed Republicans for blocking the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 29: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris introduces U.S. President Joe Biden during a campaign rally at Girard College on May 29, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Biden and Harris are using today's rally to launch a nationwide campaign to court black voters, a group that has traditionally come out in favor of Biden, but their support is projected lower than it was in 2020. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

“Overall, we’ve appointed over 200 Black judges to the federal bench, and guess what? The next president is gonna be able to appoint a couple justices,” Biden told the crowd.

Biden, who appeared at ease, has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Black voters going back to his first election to the Senate in 1972 in nearby Delaware. Black voters also helped propel him to the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

But despite his inroads with Black voters, many have continue to express dissatisfaction with Biden.

As my colleague Andrew Feinberg and I wrote last month, Trump’s campaign is trying to eat into Biden’s lead with Black voters. As a result, the Biden campaign has leaned heavily into Black voter outreach.

Earlier this month, Inside Washington headed to Detroit as Harris promoted the Biden administration’s policies promoting Black-owned business, but that event was quickly overshadowed by news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to invade Rafah in Gaza. Biden recently delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College, the alma mater of the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and also attended the NAACP Freedom Fund’s dinner in Detroit. Both cities have large Black populations, and Biden will need juiced up turnout from these voters to even have a chance at winning.

But he will not just need to compete with Donald Trump for votes; he’ll have to deal with voter apathy or low turnout overall. The Brookings Institute found that Black voter turnout in the 2022 midterms was down compared to the 2018 midterms.

Black voters told Inside Washington there were multiple reasons for this.

Napoleon Nelson, the Democratic state legislator who represents neighboring Montgomery County, told The Independent that messaging is only part of the problem. What Black voters really want is action, now.

“You get tired of waiting, and so what we have to figure out most importantly is how in the world we, one, create real and meaningful and substantive changes in lived experience,” he said. On Tuesday, Mr Nelson appeared at an event in Glenside with Democratic Senator Bob Casey and discussed how the Inflation Reduction Act, Biden’s signature climate and health care legislation, would be implemented in a way to benefit Black and brown communities. He also talked about how the CHIPs and Science Act that Biden signed could benefit Black voters.

“But the challenge is making sure we get to those things that really, I don’t want to say cut to bone but build on bone,” Nelson said.

“Talk to voters, talk to disaffected voters, sometimes voters and what you have to cut through is the how does this help me,” he said.

Aminah Shabazz, who attended the rally in Philadelphia on Wednesday, told The Independent she was pleased that Biden is making an effort to reach Black voters but feels it’s a bit late.

“I think that is a great place to take advantage of demographic,” she told The Independent, noting how Harris visited Jim Steak’s last week (as opposed to the typical tourist traps).

“The problem right now is that people don't feel that the president is relatable,” she said. She also noted that some Black voters long for a more robust economy.

“A lot of people feel that there was more opportunity for them in their businesses and things that they wanted to do when Donald Trump was in power,” Shabazz said.

Biden tried to push back on the narrative during his Wednesday rally, pointing to low rates of Black unemployment. At the same time, he tried to explain the stakes of Trump’s threat to democracy, blaming him for the Jan. 6 riot and noting how he had George Floyd protesters tear gassed to make way for a photo op.

“Trump continues to lie by saying that Black unemployment was at a record low under his watch,” he said. “The fact is record low unemployment happened on my watch and we’re going to keep it going.”