Former President Barack Obama returned to the campaign trail on Wednesday. He launched a blistering attack on Donald Trump. It is only less than two weeks to go before the Republican president’s Election Day face-off with Joe Biden.
Speaking at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia on behalf of Biden, his former vice president, Obama offered his fiercest critique yet of his successor. He took aim at Trump’s divisive rhetoric and his track record in the Oval Office.
“Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us. He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”
Obama’s appearance filled a gap left by Biden. He has stayed at home in Delaware since Monday for meetings and preparation ahead of his Thursday debate with Trump in Nashville.
The rally was held in the parking lot of Citizens Bank Park, the baseball stadium in Philadelphia. The city’s skyline was visible in the distance. It was the largest event of its kind that the Biden campaign has staged amid the pandemic.
A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Biden with just a 4-percentage-point edge in Pennsylvania. Obama warned Democrats against complacency.
Four years ago, Obama participated in a rally in Philadelphia with then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump narrowly took the state. The Biden campaign considers winning there a first priority.
Americans are voting early at a record pace this year. Nearly 42 million ballots have cast both via mail and in-person ahead of the Nov. 3 elections.
The record early vote so far represents about 30% of the total ballots cast in 2016.
After Obama spoke, Trump held a rally in North Carolina. It is another battleground state where opinion polls show a tight race.
Kamala Harris, was also in North Carolina to mobilize voters in Asheville and Charlotte.
Wednesday marked Obama’s 2020 campaign debut. But his support has been essential for Biden. He has appeared at joint fundraisers with Biden and Harris. Furthermore, his network of well-connected former aides has been significant in helping the campaign outpace Trump in bringing in donations.
The Biden campaign is hopeful that Obama will commit to more events.
Pennsylvania has averaged 1,500 new cases a day over the past week. This is a level it has not seen since April. North Carolina is averaging 2,000 new cases a day over the past week. This is its highest ever. The virus has claimed more than 221,000 lives in the United States.
Biden and Trump are scheduled to meet in their final debate on Thursday night. This gives the Republican an opportunity to change the trajectory of a race that Biden is leading in national polls.