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A day after President Joe Biden touted a student loan plan proposed to erase up to $20,000 in debt, he joined a standing-room-only crowd in Montgomery County, Maryland, to rally fellow Democrats with less than 10 weeks until the Nov. 8 general election.
Biden stood on the podium at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville with a message based on several words: hope, unity and optimism.
“We the people will still determine the best for America. If we the people stand together, we will prevail,” he said Thursday, Aug. 25. “We just have to vote.”
Part of his push to encourage people to vote stems from Congress not approving legislation to ban assault weapons.
“If you’re not for banning assault weapons, then we’re not going to vote for you,” the president said – words which drew a rousing applause inside the school gymnasium.
The president also condemned some GOP leaders and Republican voters who follow former President Donald Trump and his “Make America Great Again” movement for harming American democracy.
“I do respect conservative Republicans. I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans,” he said.
During part of Biden’s nearly 30-minute speech, a man who shouted, “You stole the election,” would be escorted out of the gymnasium without any incident.
The Biden-supportive crowd yelled, “Get him out!”
Meanwhile, the president faced criticism this year as inflation rose for months that hit consumers hard purchasing groceries and gas for their vehicles.
However, he received strong legislative victories this month as he signed the $750 billion Inflation Reduction and $280 billion CHIPS and Science acts into law.
The praise increased Wednesday when he announced up to $20,000 in debt cancellation for Pell Grant recipients and as much as $10,000 for other borrowers. He also extended the current federal loan pause until December.
The administration touted about 90% of borrowers who would see the relief earn less than $75,000 a year.
“I just want to say to our president, Joe Biden, thank you,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison, who touted himself as a Pell Grants recipient while attending college.
Democratic leaders in attendance said other issues are on the November ballot such as abortion. Maryland remains one of more than a dozen states that allows women to have an abortion.
However, the Supreme Court’s decision this summer to overturn Roe vs. Wade to declare abortion a constitutional right no longer exists, allowing states, mainly in the South, to decide for themselves.
For instance, Georgia lawmakers approved legislation prohibiting an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
“We won’t let that happen” in Maryland, said former Del. Aruna Miller, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. “Choice is on the ballot. Freedom is on the ballot.”
Not ‘Politics as Usual‘
Before the president came on stage, the Bowie High School marching band entertained the crowd for at least 30 minutes. Behind them stretched an American flag and the phrase, “Building A Better America.”
Liza Smith of Sandy Spring in Montgomery County said it symbolizes the president’s support for union labor.
“He believes in unions,” said Smith, a member of UNITE HERE Local 25 based in northwest D.C. “We’re a better America in supporting union workers for a fair wage and fair work. That’s what that sign means to me.”
A few hours before Biden spoke, Del. Dan Cox of Frederick County canceled a press conference he had scheduled in Rockville.
The state lawmaker who received the Republican nomination for governor released a statement. Some of it summarized how Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore supports Biden’s policies that Cox claims increase taxes and force vaccine mandates. He also criticized the student loan proposal, saying it would force Marylanders to pay for “someone else’s college degrees.”
“I will win this November and vigorously serve the people of Maryland as governor because the failed policies of the Biden administration, which Wes Moore is praising, advancing and will implement are disastrous for Maryland,” Cox said. “The people of Maryland want their freedom back. We want our state back.”
Moore said the main focus for Maryland voters shouldn’t be just on Cox and the Republican Party.
“It’s time for all Marylanders to rally around the future,” he said before introducing Biden to the podium. “The reason we’re going to win in November and up and down the ballot [and] all across this state is we are going to give Maryland something to believe. This is our time.”
Gennaro Thompson, a bus mechanic for Metro and member of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, said the words from both Moore and Biden aren’t “politics as usual.”
“They both are trying to reach people. I respect that,” said Thompson of Lanham in Prince George’s County.
As for Moore, Thompson said, “he gets my vote. He’s lived in this environment with a single mom. Look at where he is today. That’s a testimony.”