Biden makes closing pitch to voters at North Side rally

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Sarah Cutshall | Visual Editor

The Bidens at the Heinz Field rally on Monday evening.

By Rebecca Johnson, News Editor

Lady Gaga used her singing voice — and a rendition of her song “You and I” — to campaign for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at a Monday evening rally.

Gaga belted the lyrics “something about Joe, you and I,” “sit back down on the couch where we made love for the whole damn country” and “put your hands up for Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania.” And her support for Biden didn’t stop there.

“Now is a time to show up and vote like this country depends on it, because it does,” Gaga said. “We all know this thing may come down to Pennsylvania. We need you, we need your family, we need your friends, we need your heart.”

Gaga was the celebrity guest at the campaign’s drive-in rally held in the parking lot outside Heinz Field. The event — which headlined Biden — featured Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Gov. Tom Wolf and Jill Biden. About 250 cars gathered in the parking lot, honking their horns and cheering throughout the night. Harris delivered a speech at a rally in Philadelphia, which was livestreamed on a large screen at the Pittsburgh rally. That rally included John Legend, Common and Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff.

Biden and Harris spent their final day leading into Election Day on Tuesday campaigning across Pennsylvania. Joe and Jill Biden specifically focused on the western half of the state, with Joe and Gaga making a brief appearance Monday afternoon in Schenley Plaza to a crowd of Pitt students.

The campaign swing comes on the eve of Tuesday’s presidential election where Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes are up for grabs. Pennsylvania is one of the most important swing states in the country, with FiveThirtyEight’s presidential race forecast giving President Donald Trump an 84% chance of winning the presidency if he carries the state, and Biden a 96% chance of winning if the state flips blue. With poll averages showing Biden leading Trump by about 5% in Pennsylvania, the race for the state’s electoral votes will likely be tight.

Joe Biden focused on health care, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, his tax policy and the environment in his remarks at the rally. He said Trump has “waved the white flag of surrender” to the coronavirus. Biden said he will “never surrender.”

“Our frontline health care workers have suffered and sacrificed for nine months and this president is questioning their character, their integrity, their commitment to their fellow Americans,” Biden said. “It’s a disgrace.”

Biden also criticized Trump’s suggestion that he will fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, after Tuesday’s election. The U.S. currently has more than 230,000 COVID-19 deaths.

“Last night Trump went on to say he was going to fire Dr. Fauci,” Biden said. “Well I’ve got a better idea — let’s fire Trump and I’ll hire Fauci.”

Biden added that he thinks nothing will stop Americans from voting. Sixty percent of voters — nearly 70 million people — are projected to vote by mail nationwide this election cycle.

“Millions of Americans have already voted — close to 100 million, and millions more will vote tomorrow,” Biden said. “There is nothing, nothing, that is going to stop the people of this nation from voting. When America votes, America will be heard.”

This statement comes amid an unprecedented wave of lawsuits filed by Republicans across the nation in recent weeks to restrict ballot box access in Trump’s hotly contested reelection. Trump said Sunday that he and his campaign would be “going in with our lawyers” to try to halt the count of ballots arriving after polls close Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Pennsylvania. County boards of elections are legally permitted to count ballots postmarked on or by Tuesday, and received after Tuesday at 8 p.m. and before Friday at 5 p.m., under a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling from mid-September.

Some Pitt students attended the rally and voiced their support for Biden. Alexandra Miller, a junior marketing and supply chain major, said while she supports some of Biden and Harris’s policies, she is looking for any candidate other than Trump.

“For Joe Biden specifically, I like what he’s doing and his plans and everything, but at the end of the day it’s mostly about getting Trump out of office,” Miller said. “Yes Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are great candidates, but I would choose anybody at this moment over Trump.”

Miller — who planned to vote at a polling location near Pitt on Tuesday — added that she is “nervous” leading into Election Day. She said she is reminded of four years ago when she was confident of a Hillary Clinton victory.

“It’s definitely an exciting time to see these four years come to an end, but it’s nerve-racking,” Miller said. “I was at the DNC four years ago for Hillary Clinton and I was in the exact same position four years ago — we were confident, we were excited.”

Ellisen Ching, a junior exercise science major, said she felt lucky to be able to attend the rally and help lift Biden’s platform. Ching said she also plans on voting in-person at a polling location on-campus tomorrow.

“It’s definitely a very privileged feeling being able to come to this and use our voices to help a bigger cause,” Ching said.

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