CINCINNATI — At his first campaign stop in Ohio before the Nov. 3 election, Joe Biden gave remarks from Union Terminal in Cincinnati Monday evening.
Supporters were allowed to welcome Biden as he arrived at Union Terminal, but the event was closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns with only a select group of supporters allowed to see the speech in person.
Biden began his remarks with condolences for the family of Reds legend Joe Morgan, noting the Big Red Machine second baseman’s stint with the Philadelphia Phillies.
"I'm saddened to hear one of my baseball heroes, Joe Morgan, second baseman, Reds legend, Hall of Famer, and a good man, passed away -- and my condolences to the Morgan family and his teammates and to his fans here in Cincinnati, and all across the country," Biden said.
The former vice president’s speech Monday centered on unifying the country amid a pandemic, racial unrest and a polarizing elections cycle.
"Democracy requires consensus. I'm running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president," said Biden. "There will be no blue states and red states with me."
Biden also spoke directly to Ohioans about economic recovery in the Cincinnati region.
"Unemployment is up to the pandemic, and economic outlook remains very uncertain and very mishandled," he said. "Across Ohio and this country, folks are worried about making their next rent payment or mortgage payment, whether or not they’re going to be out in the streets, whether or not they can purchase that prescription drug they need or how much food they can put on the table, making hard choices.”
At the stop, Biden slammed President Donald Trump for his coronavirus response.
"215,000 people dead from COVID-19. Experts are telling us we may lose up to another 200,000 lives by the end of January, all because the president is only worried about one thing: the stock market. Because he refused to follow science," Biden said.
Watch the full speech in the player below:
Supporters of both candidates started lining up outside of Union Terminal around 3 p.m., with a large group of President Trump supporters nailing down their flags and signs. On the other side of the road, a smaller group of supporters for Biden and Harris held their own signs.
Fred Lampe, the executive secretary of the Greater Cincinnati Building and Construction Trade Council, said he believes Ohio is still very much in play for the November election.
“There for a few months the word on the street was Ohio was leaning towards President Trump, and I think those numbers have changed a little bit,” he said.
But Maryann Lukans of Warren County said she disagrees.
“I think we’ve all decided who we’re going to vote for. I just think this is pompous, pomp and circumstance actually,” she said.
But during his speech, Biden seemed confident that a large number of Americans would turn out to vote in the contentious election, one he called the "most important election of our lifetimes."
"It's time to rebuild the backbone of this country: the middle class. This to bring everybody along, no matter your race, your age, your gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability -- everybody gets to come along. It's time to unite America," he said.
The former vice president also spoke in Toledo before heading to Cincinnati for the voter mobilization event.
President Donald Trump made a stop in Sanford, Florida, for a rally Monday night, his first time away from the White House since returning from Walter Reed Medical Center a week ago after being treated for coronavirus symptoms. After the president boarded Air Force One for the flight to Florida, presidential physician Dr. Sean Conley confirmed that Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus and is no longer infectious.
Biden extended his Ohio advertising presence in Ohio last week, adding money notably to radio in rural western counties and in the state’s eastern and southeastern Appalachian counties, where Trump won big four years ago. The president won the state over Democrat Hillary Clinton by 8 percentage points in 2016.
The announcement comes as surveys show the race in Ohio close, with Trump consistently trailing in key northern industrial states he won in 2016.
Hamilton County GOP chairman Alex Triantafilou released the following statement ahead of Biden’s visit:
“We are 21 days from the election and Joe Biden has been absent from this state for months. His job-killing agenda is wrong for Ohio and, for that reason, he will never win this state. Ohioans are done with lockdowns and want to get our kids back in school. Joe Biden is not right for Ohio.”
The Trump campaign characterizes Biden as a late-comer to a state where its ground operation — including 28 field offices and over 117 staff — has been active for months.
“While Joe Biden and Democrats fumble to find Ohio at the 11th hour, Trump Victory never took the Buckeye State for granted and developed the strongest grassroots operation in the history of our state,” spokesman Dan Lusheck said in a statement Saturday. “We look forward to a big win for Team Trump on November 3rd.”
Biden’s team has said it always had Ohio on its wish list. Biden’s work with the automotive industry and his middle-class northeast Pennsylvania upbringing helped fuel the hope.
However, Biden’s team began spending television advertising dollars more aggressively, earlier in Iowa and Georgia, because the two states, though also a leap for a Democratic nominee, have fewer larger media markets and therefore cost less to advertise.
Trump’s support has declined in suburbs across Ohio this year, notably in and around Cincinnati, according to surveys by Republican legislative strategists, worrying them about whether Trump’s plan to turn out more voters than 2016 in the rural parts of the state can compensate for the losses.
Cincinnati also has a second strategic purpose. Five-term Republican Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio’s 1st U.S. House District is in a competitive fight with Democrat Kate Schroeder for the seat there.