A miniscule crowd showed up for one of President Joe Biden’s Labor Day rallies in Pennsylvania Monday.
The crowd, which could be described as being in the dozens, gathered outside of the United Steelworkers of America Local Union 2227 hall in West Mifflin, a town southeast of Pittsburgh. The event was open to members of the union.
While some professional photos from the event concealed just how sparse the crowd was, others showed the paltry number of people who showed up to hear the president’s words.
The appearance marked the president’s third trip to Pennsylvania in the space of a week. Biden was in town to support Lt. Gov John Fetterman’s efforts to defeat Dr. Oz in the state’s Senate race this November in the midterms.
Prior to this Labor Day appearance, Biden, 79, gave a similar speech in Wisconsin.
Among the speakers at the event were the Democratic senate candidate John Fetterman, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations President Liz Shuler and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.
During her remarks, Shuler read out a list of Democratic candidates who she believed her union members would be supporting while Walsh referred to Biden as ‘unbelievably awesome,’ according to Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs.
The president’s meager crowd was roundly mocked on social media. The official Republican Party fact-checking Twitter account tweeted Jacobs’ picture of the event.
The account said: ‘MASSIVE crowd for Joe Biden in Pennsylvania today!’ The message was accompanied by two crying laughing emojis.
Another person tweeted: ‘Trump fills stadiums, Biden has to count his security detail as part of his ‘crowd.”
Biden is back stage with US Senate candidate John Fetterman ahead of remarks in West Mifflin, a town southeast of Pittsburgh, his 2nd stop on this Labor Day and his 3rd Pennsylvania trip in a week. pic.twitter.com/jQPBy21IkD
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) September 5, 2022
— Molly Nagle (@MollyNagle3) September 5, 2022
The trips to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were designed to ‘celebrate Labor Day and the dignity of American workers,’ according to a White House press release.
They come on the back of series of policy wins for the previously embattled Democratic commander-in-chief.
In April 2019, Biden launched his successful 2020 presidential campaign at a union hall in the town of Lawrenceville.
In 2020, Biden defeated Trump in Pennsylvania by around 80,000 votes.
On Monday, he referred to ex-President Donald Trump as the ‘former, defeated, president.’
Biden continued: ‘It’s clear which way he wants to look. It’s clear which way the new MAGA Republicans are. They’re extreme.’
He went on: ‘Trump and the MAGA Republicans made their choice. We can make ours: We can choose to build a better America or continue down this sliding path.’
Prior to taking the stage in at the union hall, Biden met with Lt. Gov John Fetterman, tossed a beanbag with kids and took photos with supporters.
CNN reports that during their meeting, Fetterman pushed Biden to push for marijuana law reform.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Biden told the crowd: ‘I want to be very clear up front. Not everyone Republican is a ‘MAGA Republican.’
He added: ‘Not every Republican embraces that extreme ideology. I know, because I’ve been able to work with mainstream Republicans my whole career.’
The former vice president also said: ‘But the extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress have chosen to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate and division. But together we can and we must choose a different path: forward.’
The Democrats are attempting to win a senate seat in both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from Republicans.
While in Milwaukee, Biden took aim at Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson’s attempts to downplay the January 6 Capitol riot.
Biden said: ‘Sen. Johnson said it was by and large a peaceful protest. Have you seen the videos of what happened that day?’
During his Wisconsin speech, when a heckler was met with a chorus of boos, the president quipped: ‘No, it’s okay. Everyone is entitled to be an idiot.’
The unofficial start of fall, Labor Day also traditionally starts a political busy season where campaigns scramble to excite voters for Election Day on Nov. 8.
That´s when control of the House and Senate, as well some of the country´s top governorships, will be decided.
Trump spoke Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, near Scranton, where Biden was born. The president made his own Wilkes-Barre trip last week to discuss increasing funding for police, to decry GOP criticism of the FBI after the raid on Trump´s Florida estate and to argue that new, bipartisan gun measures can help reduce violent crime.
Two days after that, Biden went to Independence Hall in Philadelphia for a prime-time address denouncing the ‘extremism’ of Trump´s fiercest supporters.
Trump has endorsed candidates in key races around the country and Biden is warning that some Republicans now believe so strongly in Trumpism that they are willing to undermine core American values to promote it.
The president said Thursday that ‘blind loyalty to a single leader, and a willingness to engage in political violence, is fatal to democracy.’
Trump responded during his Saturday rally that Biden is ‘an enemy of the state.’ Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted Monday that Biden ‘is the most anti-worker president in modern history,’ noting that high inflation had taken a bite out of American wages, income and savings.
Unions endorsements helped Biden overcome disastrous early finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire to win the 2020 Democratic primary, and eventually the White House.
He has since continued to praise the labor movement as president.
Mary Kay Henry, president of the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union, called Biden´s championing of unions heading into the midterm elections ‘critical’ and said workers must ‘mobilize in battlegrounds across the country to ensure that working people turn out.’
‘We´re really excited about the president speaking directly to workers about, if he had the opportunity, he´d join a union,’ Henry said.
She added: ‘This president has signaled which side he´s on. And he´s on the side of working people. And that matters hugely.’
Both of the perennial presidential battleground states Biden visited Monday may provide key measures of Democrats´ strength before November.
With inflation still raging and the president´s approval ratings slightly better but remaining low, how much Biden can help his party in top races – and how much candidates want him to try – remains to be seen.
Pennsylvania voters are choosing a new governor, with state Attorney General John Shapiro facing another Trump-endorsed Republican, Doug Mastriano, and a new senator.
That race is between Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Trump-backed celebrity heart physician Mehmet Oz. Fetterman spoke with Biden before both gave speeches in West Mifflin.
The Pennsylvania and Wisconsin races could decide which party controls the Senate next year, while the winner of each governorship may influence results in 2024´s presidential election.
The stakes are particularly high given that some Trump-aligned candidates have spread his lies about widespread fraud that did not occur during the 2020 election. Judges, including ones appointed by Trump, dismissed dozens of lawsuits filed after that election, and Trump´s own attorney general called the claims bogus.
Vice President Kamala Harris paid tribute to organized labor in at breakfast meeting with the Greater Boston Labor Council, declaring ‘When union wages go up, everybody´s wages go up.’
‘When union workplaces are safer everyone is safer,’ Harris said. ‘When unions are strong, America is strong.’
Story cited here.
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