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Barack Obama, Joe Biden hold 'drive-in' campaign in Flint and Detroit

November 1, 2020
<p>Former president Barack Obama speaks at a drive-in campaign event with interpreter for Democratic nominee Joe Biden Oct. 31, 2020.</p>

Former president Barack Obama speaks at a drive-in campaign event with interpreter for Democratic nominee Joe Biden Oct. 31, 2020.

Former President Barack Obama joined Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in Flint and Detroit Saturday emphasizing the importance of voting ahead of Tuesday’s election.

The Flint event was closed to the public and offered invited participants to watch from inside their cars — a noticeable contrast to the crowd of thousands drawn in at President Donald Trump’s Lansing rally Tuesday.

The two were joined by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters as well as Rep. Dan Kildee and Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley.

In Obama’s opening remarks, he addressed Tuesday’s election stating there are only three days left to vote in the most important election of our lifetime. Voters can vote early in-person or drop off their ballot at the nearest local dropbox.

“I know right now you’ve got the Michigan-Michigan State game, and that’s a big deal, Paul Bunyan trophy’s on the line,” Obama said. “But this Tuesday, everything is on the line.”

When he was president, Obama said he never thought Trump would embrace his vision or agree with his policies but he hoped for the country’s sake he would show some interest in the job and take it seriously. Instead, he said he hasn’t done anything more than treating the presidency like a reality show to give him the attention he craves, leaving the rest of the country to live with the consequences.

As of Tuesday, 229,109 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 9 million have been infected with the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In the last 24 hours, 99,750 new cases have been reported.

According to Obama, the U.S. mortality rate is two and a half times higher than that of Canada. If we had the same percentage of people dying in Canada as we do here, nearly 90,000 Americans would have died instead of 230,000.

“The federal government has had the opportunity to respond for months, and his closing argument this week is that the press and people are too focused on COVID,” Obama said. 

Just yesterday, Trump made a comment stating doctors are overblowing the virus for monetary gain, Obama said.

“He cannot fathom, he does not understand the notion that someone would risk their life to save others without trying to make a buck,” Obama said.

Though Trump’s administration is not currently controlling the pandemic, according to Obama, Biden will.

A recent study out of Stanford University investigated the effects of large gatherings on the spread of COVID-19 by looking at eighteen Trump campaign rallies between June 20 and Sept. 22. The conclusion of the study showed communities that hosted Trump rallies paid a high price in terms of disease and death.

“What is his obsession, by the way, with crowd size, you notice that?” Obama said. “This is the one measure he has of success, he’s still worried about his inauguration crowd being smaller than mine … did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Was he traumatized?”

With the country going through a pandemic, that is not the thing that should be worried about, Obama said, citing that as a major difference between Trump and Biden. What truly separates Biden from his opponent, he said, is that he actually cares about every American.

“They're the values that we still try and teach our kids and they’re not white or Black or Hispanic or Asian-American values—they’re American values and we got to reclaim them right now,” Obama said. “…You can't just imagine a better future, you can't just wish for it---you've got to fight for it."

In Detroit, Whitmer-- who has been widely criticized by Trump for her response to the COVID-19 pandemic-- took to the stage to “Big Gretch” -- a rap tribute by Detroit-native artist Gmac Cash.

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"I have earned a few nicknames but my favorite is not 'that woman from Michigan'--although I don't mind it--my favorite is Big Gretch. Because it was lovingly bestowed on me by the phenomenal people of the city of Detroit," Whitmer said.

Among her comments, Whitmer emphasized the control the state has on the decision of the upcoming election stating the whole world is watching and counting on Michigan to make the right decision.

After the 2016 election, former first lady Michelle Obama said in one state the election had been decided by two votes per precinct. Whitmer said while it was never explicitly stated we knew she was talking about Michigan and we cannot afford to let that happen again.

"We have an opportunity before us---are we going to stick and have four more years of callous leadership, of leadership that is cruel, that is incompetent, that has led to 230,000 American deaths, tens of millions unemployed during this pandemic, people in food pantry lines who never imagined they'd need help just putting food on the table," Whitmer said."Or, are we in Michigan going to vote for two people who have decency, see humanity in others, have integrity and experience?"

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist joined Whitmer in Flint, stating we're not just voting against Trump in this election, but rather for a man and a woman who are doing the job because they love people, according to a tweet during the event.

Following the conclusion of Biden and Obama's Michigan campaign run, Gilchrist took to Twitter writing "we have a whole lot to vote against in this election, but it's what we can vote for that gives me hope."

As Biden took to the stage, he underscored the importance of putting an end to the Trump presidency, addressing similar frustration with Trump’s comments that health care workers had inflated COVID-19 numbers.

"Three days. We can put an end to this presidency that has fanned the flames of hate all across this nation and made us a laughingstock around the world," Biden said.

Biden’s plans include calls for a COVID-19 mandate for mask-wearing and social distancing that he will put in place on his first day in office if elected --- all things he said should have been done months ago. 

The Biden tax plan, widely criticized by Trump, seeks to raise taxes on those making more than $400,000 per year. This includes large corporations as Biden claims his plan seeks to reward work over wealth.

“Why should a firefighter, an educator, a nurse pay at a higher tax rate than someone making literally a billion dollars?" Biden said.

With millions of ballots already received across the country, Biden said the power to change the country is in the hands of the American people. The message is clear, Biden said---Americans are done with the hate, the anger and the failure of the Trump administration.

Among every action of the current president, Biden said there has been nothing worse to him than the way he speaks about men and women in uniform and those who have given their lives serving this country.

"He called them losers and suckers. My son Beau was a major in the U.S. Army ... He wasn't a sucker or a loser nor are any of you who serve--you are patriots," Biden said.

In his ending remarks, Biden said he is prepared to take action to address the protests which have sparked across the nation calling for racial justice and ends to police brutality.

"Protesting is not burning or looting, violence that cannot be tolerated and it won't, but these protests are a cry for justice," Biden said. "The names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake will not soon be forgotten."

Speaking in Detroit, legendary Motown singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder took the stage to criticize the negativity that has come from the Trump administration.

In his comments, Wonder called on the leadership to give reparations to the Black community for the work they have done unpaid for the last 400 years. Biden, he said, is the one who can get this done.

According to the most recent polls, Biden currently leads Michigan by 14 points.

Trump is set to make three additional stops in Michigan ahead of Tuesday's election---11 a.m. in Washington Township on Sunday, 5 p.m. in Traverse City and 10:30 p.m. in Grand Rapids on Monday.


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