Biden heads to Philly to court Black voters

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President Biden headed to Philadelphia Wednesday to court Black voters amid some signs of softening support among the key Democratic constituency.

Biden planned to launch a new Black campaign outreach group in a speech at a predominantly Black school in north Philadelphia and visit Black-owned businesses.

Declaring that Biden knows he has to “earn” Black votes, a campaign spokesman said the president plans to directly speak to voters in Black neighborhoods, especially in the swing states like Pennsylvania that will effectively determine the winner of the fall election.

“No administration has done more for Black voters than this administration and (Biden is) reminding them of the stakes in working to earn their vote,” Michael Tyler, a spokesman for the 2024 Democratic campaign, said on MSNBC.

“So that’s what Philadelphia is about,” he added. “That’s what this entire summer is going to be about.”

Underlining the urgency, Biden will be joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black vice president, in a rare joint campaign appearance at Girard College in the city’s Fairmount section.

Black and Latino voters in Philadelphia will play an outsized role in the 2024 White House rematch with former President Trump because Pennsylvania is a crucial battleground state and the only real tossup state in the otherwise solidly Democratic northeast.

That dymanic amplifies the need for Biden to run up the score in Philadelphia, where he won 81% of the vote in 2020 en route to winning the state by a slim but significant 1.2% margin.

But polls suggest Black voters are not yet enthusiastically behind Biden’s bid for four more years, lending urgency to Democratic efforts to rally them behind his reelection campaign, especially in cities that happen to be located in swing states.

One recent Pew Research poll suggested Trump has the backing of 18% of Black voters, and others say he has 23% support, numbers that would amount to a historically disastrous performance for Democrats.

Black men and younger Black voters appear to be particularly sour on Biden and open to considering Trump, perhaps reflecting general dissatisfaction with inflation and the state of the American economy, among other issues.

Democratic strategists scoff at the notion that Trump will win anything close to those shares of Black voters once the fall campaign begins in earnest and voters start to focus on a binary choice between Biden and Trump.

The campaign plans to remind Black voters of Biden’s deep connection with the community and his signature infrastructure bill, which has helped bolster a historic jobs boom.

Some Black voters complain that Biden and Harris have spent too much time courting white working class voters, a key swing constituency, instead of working to energize Black voters who deliver much wider margins to Democrats.

The new Black Voters for Biden-Harris campaign that Biden will launch plans to invest more than $10 million in  programming with Black community groups and student and faith-based organizations, mostly in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.

Quentin Fulks, a deputy Biden campaign director, praised Black voters as the “backbone” of the Democratic base and predicted they will eventually come home to Biden, especially in majority minority cities like Philadelphia and its sprawling suburbs.

“While we are busy putting in the work to earn Black America’s support, Donald Trump continues to show just how ignorant he is,” Fulks said.

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