NORTH MIAMI, Fla. – “Now listen, you delivered twice for me, Florida, and now I am asking you to deliver for Joe and deliver for Kamala,” former President Barack Obama said Saturday at a drive-in rally at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay campus in North Miami.
The former president, popular in polls with Democrats, won Florida twice as candidate.
The Biden campaign’s most high-profile surrogate, was in South Florida to stump for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.
He spoke for about 45 minutes from a stage built in the university’s parking lot to a crowd who elicited cheers by honking car horns. About 400 people attended in 228 cars at the “invite-only” rally. Those invited were “volunteers and supporters," according to the Biden campaign.
Obama talked much about the pandemic, President Trump, Obamacare, healthcare, the economy, and, of course, why people should vote for the Biden-Harris ticket.
On the pandemic and Trump: “This pandemic would have been tough for any president, because we have not seen something like this in 100 years, but the idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this thing up is nonsense." Obama said that he left the White House a “pandemic playbook,” which he explained instructed how to responded before a virus hit the United States.
Then, he joked: “It must be lost, along with the Republican Health Care Plan. We can’t find it,” which elicited much car-horn “applause.”
The full video of Obama’s speech can be seen below:
On healthcare, he said Florida is a must-win for his former Vice President, who he believes is better suited to take care of the health of the nation.
“Miami Dade has the highest enrollment of any county in Florida. Florida has the highest enrollment [of any state in the country]. Nobody has a bigger stake in making sure those protections stay in place than right here in Florida,” he said.
Supporters told Local 10 they hoped Obama can help close the deal for Biden.
“He knows Joe Biden, who he worked for, for four years. He knows Kamala Harris, he knows where her heart is,” said Karen Vaughn, with the Miami-Dade Democratic Black Caucus. “So it tends to make a difference for the urban community as well as for everyone.”
Several local leaders spoke at the FIU event, including Congresswomen Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Frederica Wilson, and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
The Biden camp is making its last-minute pitch in swing states. Biden himself campaigned with his wife, Jill, earlier in the day in Pennsylvania.
Obama’s South Florida visit also included a surprise appearance to volunteers at the headquarters of the United Teachers of Dade labor union in Miami Springs, where he thanked them for their efforts.
“The lifeblood of any campaign is . . . ordinary citizens going out there each and every day talking to neighbors and talking to friends and talking to co workers about what is important and what are the values we share.”
Arriving for a rally in Columbus, Ohio, Trump said he was going to see “tens of thousands of people," comparing his rallies to those of his opponent and mentioned the drive-in rally Obama held in North Miami on Saturday.
“I looked at the crowd that was — that President Obama had. Not too big. Not too big. I don’t know if that’s an indication of anything, but there’s nobody there.”
Rallies in support of Biden are being held as drive-in gatherings for social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump’s rallies are outdoors without social distancing enforced.
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(See the statistics of voting in Florida below.)