WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Joe Biden enters the final weekend of the presidential campaign with an intense focus on appealing to Black voters whose support will be critical in his bid against President Donald Trump.
The Democratic presidential nominee is teaming up with, Barack Obama, for a swing through Michigan on Saturday. They’ll hold drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit, predominantly Black cities where strong turnout will be essential to return this longtime Democratic state to Biden’s column after Trump won here in 2016.
Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat who represents the Flint area, said he had been pressing for a couple of months for Biden or Obama to visit Flint, a city bedeviled by a water crisis that began in 2014 and sickened the city’s residents, exposing stark racial inequities.
“Showing up matters,” Kildee said. “The message is important, no question about it. But there’s a message implicit in showing up, especially in Flint. This is a community that has felt left behind many, many times and overlooked many, many times.”
“It’s a message to the people here that they matter, their vote matters,” Kildee said. “I think that helps.”
R&B legend Stevie Wonder will perform in Detroit on Saturday after Biden and Obama speak.
The press for Michigan’s Black voters comes after voting was down roughly 15% in Flint and Detroit four years ago — a combined 48,000-plus votes in a state Trump carried by about 10,700 votes. Overall, the Black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6% four years earlier, according to the Pew Research Center.
Some Democrats say the dynamic is different this year. Jonathan Kinloch leads the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party, which includes parts of Detroit, and expressed confidence that Black voters will turn out for Biden.
But Trump isn’t ceding Michigan to Biden. He visited Waterford Township, near Detroit, on Friday, and held a rally in the state capital of Lansing earlier in the week.
With the election down to the final days, Trump’s closing sprint includes four stops in Pennsylvania on Saturday and nearly a dozen events in the final 48 hours across states he carried in 2016.
The former vice president campaigned in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin on Friday. Trump also visited Minnesota and Wisconsin in addition to his stop in Michigan on Friday.
Biden campaigned in Iowa for the first time since the state’s Democratic caucuses more than eight months ago. Trump easily won the state in 2016, but polls show a competitive race with days to go.
Eggert reported from Lansing, Mich., and Madhani reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe in Des Moines, Iowa, and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.