After waiting more than thirty minutes since the previous speaker, attendees at The Liacouras Center erupted in cheers when President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Attorney General Josh Shapiro took the stage together.
Biden urged the audience to vote in Tuesday’s midterm elections and said they have the ability to determine the course of the nation’s future.
“Three days until one of the most important elections of our lifetimes,” Biden said. “The outcome is going to shape our country for decades to come and the power to shape that outcome is in your hands.”
Biden and Obama spoke to the North Philadelphia community at The Liacouras Center on Saturday to encourage voter turnout for Tuesday’s midterm elections and support Fetterman (D) and Shapiro (D) in their United States Senate and Pennsylvania gubernatorial races against Mehmet Oz (R) and State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33), respectively.
Obama and Biden were joined by other major leaders in the Pennsylvania Democratic Party including Gov. Tom Wolf, Reps. Brendan Boyle and Dwight Evans and Sen. Bob Casey.
The visit comes as leaders in both parties have crisscrossed the state in recent weeks to drum up support for their respective candidates ahead of the key midterm elections. Obama has recently traveled the country to rally support for Democratic candidates, including trips to Arizona and Michigan. Biden visited the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Arch near 13th Street for a Pennsylvania Democratic Party reception on Oct. 28.
Evans will speak at Temple’s campus at Founders Garden on Sunday alongside State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-181), State Sen. Sharif Street (D-3) and actor Kerry Washington.
Former President Donald Trump joined Mastriano today in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to help him in his race against Shapiro, as he trails the attorney general by double digits in most polls.
The event began with speeches from leaders in the Pennsylvania Democratic Party including Street and State Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-191). Both politicians urged voters to cast ballots to protect abortion rights, with Street criticizing Oz for claiming that the choice to undergo the procedure is between “a woman, doctors and local political leaders.”
Abortion remains a key issue in both races among Democratic voters, following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to end the constitutional right to an abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. An overwhelming majority of Temple University students support abortion in all circumstances, according to a September poll from The Temple News.
Republican voters have prioritized the economy and concerns about inflation ahead of Tuesday’s midterms.
Boyle emphasized the need to protect American democracy and recalled being barricaded in his office during the Jan. 6 riots and slammed Mastriano for being present at the Capitol while lawmakers were working to certify election results.
“All of us must be actively engaged in the fight to save our democracy,” Boyle said. “If Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz and the other election deniers win, I struggle to think of consequences.”
Casey highlighted his desire to work with Fetterman to advance Democratic legislation as the lieutenant governor could play a role in helping the party expand its control of the Senate, which is currently split 50-50.
After Biden, Obama, Fetterman and Shapiro emerged on the stage together, the current President touted accomplishments including the Inflation Reduction Act, which included incentives for clean energy production, and bipartisan gun control legislation.
The President also echoed Boyle’s call for voters to defend democracy. He condemned political violence, including the recent attack against Paul Pelosi, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D) husband.
“Democracy is literally on the ballot,” Biden said. “And we all must speak with one voice regardless of political party.”
Shapiro then took the stage to emphasize the stakes of the election by discussing Mastriano’s desire to restrict abortion access.
“This is a guy who doesn’t respect women here in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said. “If you don’t think like Doug Mastriano, if you don’t vote like him, if you don’t worship like him, if you don’t marry like him, you don’t count in his Pennsylvania.”
Fetterman called out Oz for repeatedly mentioning that the lieutenant governor suffered a stroke just before the state’s primary in May.
“Hey, did somebody ever hear that I had a stroke,” he asked the audience sarcastically. “I had a stroke but it really knocked me on my back, but I got back up.”
Obama concluded the event by urging voters to cast ballots for Fetterman and Shapiro. He acknowledged that turnout is lower during midterm years, but urged voters to get involved given the key issues on the line.
“A lot of folks don’t pay attention to politics the way they do in a presidential year,” Obama said. “I can tell you from experience that midterms matter a lot.”
Obama, like other speakers, called on voters to defend democracy by warning against efforts to ban books and attack journalists.
“People get hurt, there are consequences,” Obama said. “There’s a reason why generations of Americans fought and died for our democracy.”
At the end of his speech, Fetterman, Biden and Shapiro met Obama on stage and joined hands in front of the cheering crowd, many of whom held campaign signs distributed by Democratic Party staff.
Michael Mirville, a sophomore journalism major, immediately made plans to visit The Liacouras Center when he heard Biden and Obama were coming to Temple’s campus.
“It’s two presidents coming so obviously you’re going to want to go and it’s right here on campus so it’s an amazing opportunity,” he said.
Seeing both presidents was a surreal experience for Mirville which made him even more energized for the midterm elections.
“I’m excited to see what happens,” Mirville said.