Joe Biden is making a clear attempt to appeal to disaffected Republicans and independent voters in the final weeks of the election, promising he’d be a president that would work hard not just for those who support him, but also for those who do not.
Campaigning on Saturday evening in Pennsylvania’s Erie County, which President Donald Trump won narrowly in 2016, Biden said, “I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I am going to govern as an American president," before touting the endorsement of former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican who served as Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush.
“We may not agree on everything," Biden said of Ridge. “But we agree on this: this is a moment to put country above party," he said, employing a line popularly used by conservative voters who have thrown their support behind the Democratic nominee.
Biden’s remarks focused heavily on the economy as he warned that working class people are “being left behind by the most unequal recovery in American history" due to the President’s mishandling of the pandemic.
Erie is just one of a series of counties the former vice president has traveled to on the campaign trail in recent weeks as he hopes to peel away some of Trump’s support and even win back some of the counties President Barack Obama won before they flipped in 2016. Biden campaigned in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and Warren, Michigan, and on a train tour through eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania following the first presidential debate, many of his stops were in areas that Trump won in 2016.
After the last stop in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which went for Trump four years ago, Biden acknowledged, “a lot of white working-class Democrats thought we forgot them and didn’t pay attention," referring to the Democratic Party. “And I think it’s important that they know."
His campaign is employing Republican surrogates and endorsements to make their case for the Democratic nominee as well.
On Saturday, the campaign unveiled its first television ad featuring Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. No Democratic presidential nominee has carried Arizona since Bill Clinton in 1996, but the Biden campaign has labeled the state as one in which it believes it can “expand" support as it considers multiple pathways to victory.
Biden’s campaign is also touting support from former Trump voters. In Erie County, Rick Telesz, a soybean farmer from western Pennsylvania who voted for Trump in 2016, introduced Biden ahead of his remarks. Telesz said that while Trump made many promises to farmers and working people four years ago, “it did not take long for me to realize that President Trump is nothing more than a con-man."
Telesz delivered a scathing rebuke of the President, arguing that he is “not pro-life" but rather “pure pro-profit."