After energizing voters at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia on Oct. 21, former President Barack Obama continued along the campaign trail for his former vice president on Oct. 24 — this time in the battleground state of Florida.
“Now listen, you delivered twice for me, Florida, and now I am asking you to deliver for Joe and deliver for Kamala,” Obama opined at Florida International University’s (FIU) Biscayne Bay campus in North Miami.
Amidst concerns over public safety as the coronavirus maintains its deadly, nationwide assault on Americans, Obama, until last week, had limited his activism to virtual fundraisers or carefully targeted media blitzes. However, during his two recent public appearances, the Democrats’ most popular figure has not only supported his legacy which included contributions made by then vice president Biden but he’s gone on the offensive in his views about Donald Trump.
With an estimated 60 million Americans having already voted and with Biden making significant inroads with suburban women (predominantly white) and seniors, Obama has sought to engage youth, African Americans and Latinos — voting blocs with whom the former vice president has been less effective in securing support.
Both Pennsylvania and Florida, considered by many political analysts as states essential to victory in the 2020 presidential election, each gave Obama the nod in his two successful campaigns. In Pennsylvania, Obama won with ease at 61.94 percent and 50.01 percent during the 2008 and 2012 elections, respectively — also capturing the majority of the popular in both campaigns. He did the same in Florida in 2008 and 2012, again twice garnering the popular vote while winning at clips of 54.47 percent and 51.97, respectively.
Thus, it seemed reasonable that given his popularity among voters in the two states, he would travel to Pennsylvania and Florida, going on the offensive with pointed statements which impugned Trump’s ineffectiveness while providing evidence for voters who still remain uncommitted.
Obama spoke on the FIU campus for about 45 minutes from a stage built in the university’s parking lot to a crowd who elicited cheers by honking car horns. About 400 people attended in 228 cars at the “invite-only” rally with those invited comprised mainly of “volunteers and supporters,” according to the Biden campaign.
Obama spoke about the COVID-19 health pandemic, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the economy and, of course, Donald Trump, while emphasizing, “this is the most important election of our lifetime.”
“This pandemic would have been tough for any president because we have not seen something like this in 100 years, but the idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this thing up is nonsense,” he said.
He noted that he and Biden left the White House a “pandemic playbook” which he explained instructed the new administration how to best respond should a virus strike the U.S.
Then, he continued with jocularity: “It must be lost, along with the Republican Health Care Plan. We can’t find it” — a statement which elicited further “car-horn applause.”
On health care, he said Biden counts as the best candidate to both improve and care for the health of Americans.
“Miami Dade has the highest enrollment (in the ACA) of any county in Florida. Florida has the highest enrollment [of any state in the country]. Nobody has a bigger stake in making sure those protections stay in place than right here in Florida,” he said.
Meanwhile, Trump greeted supporters in Columbus, Ohio on Oct. 24 with comments which derided the differences among the number of attendees at the two Saturday events.
Trump predicted he would see “tens of thousands of people,” comparing his rallies to those of his opponent while specifically alluding to the drive-in rally Obama held in North Miami on Saturday.
Ironically, Trump’s criticism occurred on a day when both Ohio and the U.S. set record highs for new coronavirus cases including several top aides to Vice President Mike Pence who tested positive.
During the current election cycle, rallies in support of Biden have been held as drive-in gatherings following social distancing protocol due to the coronavirus pandemic in comparison to Trump’s rallies, held outdoors and without social distancing enforced.
“I looked at the crowd that was — that President Obama had. Not too big. Not too big. I don’t know if that’s an indication of anything but there’s nobody there,” Trump said.