By Paul Rozycki
With less than 15 hours before the polls open for Michigan’s primary election, former Vice President Joe Biden brought his campaign to Michigan, and to Flint, to rally supporters for the Democratic presidential nomination.
On Monday afternoon Biden made a stop at Berston Field House on Flint’s north end. Meeting for over two hours at an invitation-only gathering with local Democratic political leaders, Biden accepted the endorsements of Flint’s Mayor Sheldon Neeley and Cynthia Neeley who is a candidate for the state House in the 34th district, which includes much of Flint.
Biden was introduced by New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. Booker reminded those in the audience that his father was a UAW worker, as he gave an inspirational speech to Flint supporters. Booker, one of the many other Democrats seeking the presidential nomination this year, also endorsed Biden and concluded his presentation by saying, “Will you stand with me for Joe Biden this year?”
Earlier California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, who had also been a candidate, endorsed Biden, as did a number of his former opponents within the past week. Biden has also garnered endorsements from Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence.
Biden spoke for about 20 minutes to an audience composed of local political leaders and elected officials. Among those in attendance were Mayor Sheldon Neeley and Cynthia Neeley, who have formally endorsed him; Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton; Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist; state Representative Sheryl Kennedy; and Genesee County Commissioners Brenda Clack, Mark Young, Ellen Ellenberg and Bryant Nolden.
Biden said that in this election “character is on the ballot” and that it was time to end “mean and nasty politics.” Though competing in a Democratic primary, he made an attempt to reach out to Republicans and independents, saying “the other team isn’t the enemy. They are the opposition. We need to work with them.” Speaking to others in the Democratic Party, who may have supported other candidates, he said “We are all on the same team and there is a place in the campaign for you.”
He said the he was the best candidate to take on President Trump and that the country could survive four years of Trump but not eight years.
He also said that Michigan was a critical state in the upcoming election and that “it may determine the next election.”
He spoke to Flint voters, saying “If I win the nomination you will see a lot of me in Flint,” and that he understands that the city has “seen a lot of pain” and “it needs a lot of help with its water issues.” He mentioned his support for several infrastructure bills that have been working their way through the Congress.
Following his address he spoke to members of the media for nearly an hour, before his long line of black SUVs left for Detroit.
Though some recent polls give Biden a healthy lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders, he said that he doesn’t take anything for granted, especially in Michigan, where Hillary Clinton was expected to win in 2016 but did not.
In 2016, Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary election, in a surprising upset, and Donald Trump carried Michigan by just over ten thousand votes to give the Republicans their first Michigan presidential victory in over 30 years.
Biden’s stop in Flint was part of a three-city tour that took him from Grand Rapids in the morning, to Flint in the afternoon, to Detroit and Grosse Point in the evening. On Tuesday, there are plans for Jill Biden to also visit the Ferris Wheel incubator site, in downtown Flint, where she will meet with business innovators.
Biden’s major opponent for the nomination, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spoke at Mott Community College on Saturday, is also campaigning across the state just before the primary election.
On Tuesday March 10 six states are holding primary elections. Michigan is considered the most important of those state with 125 delegates at stake. To gain the nomination a candidate must win 1991 delegate votes from the states. Michigan is also considered critical because a Biden victory would solidify his role as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. A victory for Bernie Sanders could revive his campaign, after a disappointing showing for him on Super Tuesday last week.
EVM Political Commentator and Staff Writer Paul Rozycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.