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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Gene J. Puskar/PA US President Joe Biden speaks while visiting Pittsburgh
# Streets of philadelphia
'Every single vote matters': Biden travels to Philly as activists hit local bars ahead of the midterms
With polling less than three weeks away, it’s all to play for in Pennsylvania.

Rónán Duffy reports from Philadelphia

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden made another trip to Pennsylvania yesterday, the 18th visit of his presidency, to underline the state’s central plot in the upcoming midterm elections. 

Biden made a speech at a newly repaired bridge in the western city of Pittsburgh before travelling east to the city of Philadelphia, where he attended a fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman. 

Fetterman is engaged in a neck-and-neck battle with Republican TV star-turned-politician Dr. Mehmet Oz and Biden’s presence in the state of his birthplace was a rare example of the president stumping for a colleague in person. 

As a mid-term president with less-than-stellar approval ratings, Biden’s presence on the campaign trail has been less visible than some of his predecessors, but Democrats hope his background in coming from the area will pay dividends come 8 November. 

A fortnight from Tuesday is the day of the midterm elections, when all of the House seats are up for grabs along with a third of the Senate seats. 

Of those 34 Senate seats, there only a handful of toss-ups that could go either way, with the Pennsylvania seat one of the marginals that has gained national attention. 

president-joe-biden-speaks-on-the-importance-of-infrastructure-funding-at-the-site-of-the-rebuilding-of-the-fern-hollow-bridge-on-thursday-october-20-2022-in-pittsburgh-the-bridge-collapsed-on-janu Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Unlike last month’s visit, when Biden delivered a passionate speech at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall decrying “MAGA Republicans”, yesterday’s visit to the City of Brotherly Love had no such public oration.

Instead, the only visible effects of Biden’s presence were the appearance of a helicopter over the city and heavy traffic that delayed the visiting Milwaukee Bucks from taking to the NBA floor against the hometown 76ers. 

Biden’s three-hour stay in the city took him from the airport to a private fundraiser in front of a reported 100 donors in the downtown Union Trust building.

The president was quoted as telling donors that the state was facing a battle between “the good guys and the bad guys” and that “John’s got to win”.

“There’s no better place to talk about rebuilding the backbone of America, the middle class,” Biden said.

‘Drag out the vote’

But while Biden was busy trying to raise cash for the final weeks of the campaign, a Democrat “activation event” was taking place about six blocks away in the city’s LGBT village, known as the “Gayborhood”. 

The ‘Drag Out the Vote’ event was about getting people to polling stations and saw performances by several drag artists in a bar packed full of activists and those simply out on the town.

A volunteer sheet was handed around for people who wanted to get involved in campaigning, with one activist telling The Journal that the event is about connecting with people in their own communities. 

The event’s MC, Vinchelle, kept repeating the date of the midterms for all to hear, and said that voting was about “protecting our rights” in a way that’s “not just to saying it but being it”. 

20221020_205307 TheJournal A Democrat orgaised event in Downtown Philadelphia. TheJournal

Laura Restrepo, Latino Coalition Director with the for Pennsylvania Democratic Party, explained that she was moved to become an advocate after one of her foster children told her that they were gay. 

I received a 17-year-old in my house from Philadelphia, a Black 17-year-old beautiful girl. About a month into her living in my house she turns around to me and tells me, ‘I don’t know if you want to kick me out because of this but I want you to know that I’m gay. Firstly, I hugged her and told her that this was her home but secondly the fact that she felt that I would kick her out of the house, no child should ever feel that way. I said then I’d do anything to make sure that no child feels that way, I’m going to do it.

“We need to make sure that our elected officials are protecting us, are protecting our rights, protecting our children’s rights. For that, we need you all to first make sure you’re registered to vote and you’re voting this November. Every single vote matters.”

She added: “I know we got y’all but we need to get friends and communities involved, go and knock on doors and if you want to volunteer come talk to me.”

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