By Tom Travis
Drawing sharp contrasts between the last four years of the Trump presidency and eight years of President Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s administration, candidate for president Joe Biden addressed a drive-in rally today at Flint’s Northwestern High School parking lot by declaring, “I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I’ll govern as an American.”
On a bright sunny cold Halloween day, Rev. Ralphael Read, pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, started the program with an invocation. Then a line of politicians took the stage to welcome the crowd and campaign for Biden.
First up was Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, followed by U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters who is up for election on Tuesday. Each spoke for about ten minutes.
Former President Barack Obama introduces presidential candidate Joe Biden
After being introduced by Obama, Biden took the stage to honking horns and cheers from the drive-in crowd. He said, “Thank you Mr. President, Thank you for eight years without one single trace of scandal. It’s going to be nice to return to that. We can put an end to this presidency that has failed to protect this nation.”
“Flint, three days and we can put an end to this presidency that we have now that has divided this nation. Three days we can put an end to this presidency that has fanned the flame of hate across this nation. Three days we can put an end to this presidency that has made us a laughing stock throughout the world,” blasted Biden.
“My message is simple. The power to change the country is literally in your hands. I don’t care how hard Donald Trump tries there’s nothing he can do from the people of this nation voting in overwhelming numbers and taking back this democracy,” he pleaded.
“It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags…” blasts Biden
“No matter how many threats he makes. Americans will be heard. And when Americans are heard I believe the message will be loud and it will be clear. It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home.”
“We’re done with the chaos, the fear, the anger, the hate, the failure and lack of taking responsibility. If I’m elected president we’re gonna end this presidency. And I’m gonna need your help to do it.”
Biden plans “to put into action a plan” for a new course in tackling Covid
“We’re going to act to get COVID under control. On Day One of my presidency, I’m going to put into action, a plan I’ve been talking about for months now, a national mandate for mask wearing, social distancing, testing, contact tracing, A plan that should have and could have been put in place months ago,” he said.
“A full and free distribution of a vaccine when we get one. Imagine where we’d be if we had a president who wore a mask instead of mocking it? I can tell you this we wouldn’t have nine million confirmed cases of Covid in this nation or 230,000 deaths and we wouldn’t be seeing record numbers of cases. There have been 500,000 new cases just this last week and this guy tells us, ‘it’s just going away.’ I’ll tell you, it goes away if he goes away.
“This president knew in January that the virus was deadly. And trying to improve his image and talked to Bob Woodward. He knew it was worse than the flu. He lied to the American people.”
“And yesterday he had the gall to suggest that American doctors are inflating the number of Covid deaths to make more money. What in the hell is wrong with this man, excuse my language. But think about it. It’s perverted. He may believe it because he doesn’t do anything but for money.”
‘My presidency will beat this virus,” Biden said, “and the first step to doing that is beating Donald Trump.”
Not “Wall Street” but “working people” built this country
Biden noted the accolades Donald Trump gives himself about how well his own presidency has done. But in the last three years of the Obama/Biden administration, Biden said, more jobs were created than in the first three years of Trump’s presidency, before the pandemic.
“Barack and I understand something that Donald Trump doesn’t understand: Wall Street didn’t build this country, you did! Working people built this country and unions built the middle-class,” he asserted.
Gazing out to the crowd of several hundred vehicles, he said, “I see the UAW sign out there. The UAW was one of my first endorsements as a 29-year-old kid, God love you.”
Corporations will pay “their fair share” of taxes
‘We believe we should worry about work in this country, not wealth,” Biden continued. “Under my plan, if you make under $400,000 you’re not gonna pay an additional penny in additional income taxes. But the wealthiest people, the biggest corporations, 91 of the Fortune 500 corporations paid zero in federal income taxes. They’re going to start to pay their fair share.”
“Why should a fire fighter, a nurse, an educator pay a higher tax rate than someone making more than a billion dollars. why should you pay more in income taxes than Donald Trump?” he asked the crowd.
“We’re not only gonna rebuild Obamacare, we’re going to build on it. We’re going to increase subsidies and reduce premiums and reduce prescription drug cost by 60 percent. We’re going to make sure people can keep coverage for with preexisting conditions.
“According to the chief actuary of the U.S. Social Security Administration says that if Donald Trump get’s his Social Security plan passed, of eliminating payroll taxes, it will ‘bankrupt Social Security.’
President Obama – “The presidency doesn’t change who you are — it shows who you are – it reveals who you are.”
In Obama’s 25-minute speech before Biden took the stage, the former president said he and Joe Biden came from different places and different generations, but “I quickly came to admire Joe as a man who learned early on to treat everyone he meets with dignity and respect.
“Joe has a sense of decency, empathy, family, and hard work,” Obama said. “Joe believes every person counts. And that’s the kind of president he will be. I can tell you the presidency doesn’t change who you are it shows who you are, it reveals who you are.”
“Joe has the character to make this a better country and he and Kamala are going to be in the fight, not for themselves, but for every single one of us. And we sure can’t say that about the president we have now,” said Obama.
Obama said Trump has treated the presidency as “a reality show to give him the attention he so badly craves.”
“Trump cares about feeding his ego,” Obama said. ” Joe cares about keeping you and your family safe.”
“I’ve earned a few nicknames in 2020 but ‘Big Gretch’ is one of my favorite.” – Governor Gretchen Whitmer tells the crowd
When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took the stage to speak, the enthusiastic crowd hollered at her from their cars in the midst of supportive horn honking. One spectator yelled, “We love you, Big Gretch.” To which Gov. Whitmer responded by saying, “I’ve earned a few nicknames in 2020 but ‘Big Gretch’ is one of my favorites.”
That was followed by nearly 20 seconds of solid horn honking.
“We’ve been waiting for this for so long. In a world where so little is in our control Michigan has control over this election. The whole world is watching Michigan. The whole world is hoping we get this election right,” Whitmer said.
“We have a choice of four more years of leadership that is cruel and callous and incompetent that has led us to this moment where COVID-19 is raging across this nation. 229,000 American lives lots. Millions of unemployed, businesses are closing, our kids that need to be in school are struggling.
Whitmer, with her voice raised, firmly asked the audience, “Are we going to take four more years of this?” Audience members yelled back, “No”, “No way.” Whitmer answered, “No, Hell no. Right? We have a choice. It’s time for us to cast our ballots for leaders who are competent, leaders who have integrity, leaders who see the humanity in our fellow Americans, leaders who will make us proud.”
It was noted that while Secret Service’s presence was seen throughout the event only Presidential Candidate Joe Biden, Former President Barack Obama and Governor Gretchen Whitmer were escorted and surrounded by agents as they exited the building while they spoke from the podium.
Shuttered Flint Northwestern High School holds venue for Biden’s campaign stop
Hundreds of cars had lined up along W. Carpenter Road in Flint’s north end before 10 a.m. awaiting the noon event. State Police, Flint Police and U.S. Secret Service all had a strong presence. The drive-in rally eventually filled in the parking lot along the west side of now-shuttered Northwestern High School.
Bomb sniffing dogs were led around each vehicle entering the venue. Occupants had to exit their vehicle, and leave all the doors and trunk open as security agents conducted a search of each vehicle. U.S. Secret Service agents had set up a white tent at the entrance with a metal detector and two armed officers.
The only foot traffic into the rally area were a small number of press, including local media outlets, technical crew, police and Secret Service. Members of the press were directed to a seating area with a hula-hoop around the chair, and told they were to stay within that area. Campaign officials reminded people to keep their distance. Masks and social distancing was strictly enforced.
As the event closed and the president and vice-president left the property, sharp shooters could be seen packing up their guns on the roof of the school.
A small group of five or six Trump supporters gathered in a church parking lot across from the campaign venue. They were in four pick -up trucks some wearing cowboy hats waving “Trump for president” flags.
The candidates and Obama proceeded to Detroit, where Biden delivered the same speech.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.