Pennsylvania Democrats gathered Wednesday outside a local electrical workers’ union in Allentown in support of presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.
Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff, was the featured speaker at the event and was joined by multiple Pennsylvania public officials to rally behind the Biden campaign.
“We are going to elect my friend, the great Joe Biden, a proud Pennsylvania native, as your president, and someone that I love very much, my wife Kamala D. Harris, senator and next vice president of the United States,” Emhoff said to the crowd.
Notable Pennsylvania Democrats in attendance included incumbent U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, who represents the Lehigh Valley in Congress, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and local State Rep. Steve Samuelson, who represents Bethlehem in Harrisburg.
Wild told attendees that “never in my lifetime” has she seen a president who “has actively sown the seeds of division and misinformation” the way Trump has.
“The entire country is looking, in the next few days, to what we do right here,” Wild said. “What happens here in Pennsylvania 7 in the Greater Lehigh Valley will in large part determine what happens in Pennsylvania. Our district and our state could very well decide this presidential race.”
In an interview with The Brown and White, Wild shared her goals for a hopeful second term.
“I feel like we’ve put everything out there,” Wild said. “We have just worked our tails off. I’ve worked hard for two years. I do believe my constituents will send me back to Congress because of the work that I’ve done.”
The event was not open to the public in order to limit crowds and maintain state-wide social distancing guidelines. Attendees included members of the Biden Harris campaign as well as a limited number of invited guests.
All attendees were required to wear masks and had their temperatures taken prior to entry.
Jacob Glessner of Bethlehem attended as a guest of the Biden campaign.
“I’m concerned for the future,” he said. “Being a young person in their twenties, we have a lot at stake in this election … and I think Biden Harris is the way to go.”
Glessner said it is “crucially important that we win here,” noting the influence that Northampton and Lehigh counties have on the state.
Glessner said his policy priorities include rebuilding the economy and defeating the coronavirus. He critiqued the Trump administration’s current handling of issues regarding climate change.
“It’s time for us to start taking that seriously,” he said.
Lynn and Pat Johnson of Nazareth came out to show their support of Biden. Lynn’s priority this election is nationwide unity.
“Our country’s in turmoil,” he said. “We have to turn this thing around before we lose our independence.”
Meanwhile, Pat Johnson hopes for a fast and safe end to coronavirus.
“If we do things right now, it will be gone soon,” she said.
Nicole Cooper of Easton agreed that a handling of coronavirus should be the nation’s main concern.
“While we are in the pandemic, everyone has so much uncertainty in their lives, nobody has the energy to do more,” she said.
She also highlighted hopes for the Biden administration to address issues regarding civil unrest and systemic racism.
“Right now because of Trump’s administration and his rhetoric, it’s OK to be a bad person,” Cooper said.
Cooper said she hopes to see young people mobilize as they have the most to lose in the next four years.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro reminded voters they have “five days and a wake-up” left to cast their ballots.
“To say no to Donand Trump’s chaos and to say yes to a more fair and just country,” Shapiro said. “You want to know about justice? You want to know about fairness? That’s Doug Emhoff’s career.”
Shapiro, who introduced Emhoff, said he was honored to support “the next second dude of this country.”
Emhoff focused his speech on the country’s need for change and leadership. He reminded supporters that the Biden Harris campaign is working harder than ever and has no plans to slow down. He noted that the supporters who came out were “inspiring.”
“We can win Pennsylvania, we can win this election,” Emhoff reinforced.
Emhoff’s campaign stop in Allentown highlights the significance of the Lehigh Valley as a bellwether this election with less than a week to go before Election Day. With Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes hotly contested, both President Donald Trump and Biden’s campaigns are zeroing in on the region to lock in key swing votes. Trump rallied thousands of supporters at a Hanover Township manufacturing facility on Monday.
“We know it’s going to be close here, that’s why I’m here,” Emhoff said. “I’m not going to the easy places.”
Nearby Northampton County was one of just a handful of counties in the state to flip from supporting President Barack Obama in 2012 to backing Trump four years later, helping Trump become the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the Keystone State since 1988.
Emhoff and Trump’s events, however, looked drastically different regarding precautions implemented due to COVID-19. Emhoff’s Allentown speech was characterized by an attendance of roughly 100, social distancing marks on the ground to space people out and mandatory masks and temperature checks. Trump’s event, meanwhile, featured thousands of supporters sitting in bleachers with little social distancing, optional mask-wearing and no temperature checks while Pennsylvania sees a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Emhoff closed saying Trump has caused an “American carnage” through his “failure of leadership.”
“Change is coming and Joe and Kamala are ready to deliver it, because they get it,” Emhoff concluded. “They’re both about family, faith and community. You know Joe Biden, you know Joe, he’s a man of deep conviction, he’s a man of knowledge, he’s a man of empathy, he’s a man who’s going to get this done. And my wife, daughter of immigrants, she is living the American dream, and she stands in representing the millions and millions out there to show them what can be, unburdened by what has been, and that is Kamala Harris.”