DUNMORE, Pa. — Joe Biden went back to his roots – literally and figuratively – on Thursday while promoting his plan to bring the country back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Standing in front of an American Flag, on the loading area of McGregor Industries inDunmore, the former Vice President and presumptive Democratic Party nominee spoke about his childhood in nearby Scranton.
The speech was filled with references to the values of hard work, decency, community and family he learned growing up here. He contrasted that experience and those ideals with President Donald Trump’s, who he said never struggled in the ways most Americans do.
Talking about current corporate culture rewarding only shareholders, he said companies have to realize they have responsibilities to their employees and country as well.
“That isn’t a radical notion,” Biden said.
Contrasting his ideas with
Trump’s rhetoric, he argued that building a new economy based on those ideals is possible even if that economy isn’t built on the same manufacturing jobs he grew up surrounded by.
“We have to build an economy for the future, not based in the past,” he said.
McGregor Industries is an example of that. Founded during Northeastern Pennsylvania’s coal and steel boom, it now uses such modern technology as 3D printers.
Biden’s message wasn’t a hit with everyone, though.
A crowd of protesters gathered along the O’Neill Highway near the manufacturer. Along Line Street, near the entrance to the community, a similar sized crowd of Biden supporters waved flags and placards.
Among them, though, were a few more Trump supporters, like Plains Township resident Joe Granteed.
He had several hand-written signs, and explained he had worked in manufacturing for several decades, watching jobs disappear.
He’s attended four Trump events and donated to his campaigns.
“I just wanted to show my displeasure with the Democratic Party and support Donald Trump,” Granteed said.
As Biden spoke, the Trump campaign released several statements, criticizing much of Biden’s economic ideas. Another repeated the familiar line that Trump would “restore law and order.”
“Pennsylvanians know that only President Trump and Vice President Pence can restore law and order to our communities, re-open our schools safely, and continue on the path of the Great American Comeback,” spokeswoman Melissa Reed said.
Pence campaigned in Philadelphia and Lancaster on Thursday afternoon and evening.
The Trump campaign did point out that Biden would repeal Trump’s tax cuts.
In the statements, the Trump campaign didn’t ask how Biden would pay for his programs, but criticized him for not doing enough when he helped implement former President Barack Obama’s economic recovery package in 2009.
Near where Granteed offered his criticisms of Biden, Casey Krieger, 21, Patrick Dougherty, 20, and Molly Dougherty, 17, waited to catch a glimpse of the former vice president.
Krieger waved a Biden flag and wore a Biden face mask.
“We just wanted to show our support for the future president and let him know that Scranton has his back,” Krieger said.
If Biden is going to win Pennsylvania, which he has to do to unseat Trump in November, he will likely need to boost turnout in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Two of its most populous counties, Lackawanna and Luzerne, have traditionally been Democratic strongholds. In 2016, Luzerne went hard for Trump.
As part of the contrast Biden set out to prove Thursday was how a President Biden would handle crises differently than Trump does.
The country is facing three major issues, the virus, the economic downturn, and the reckoning on racial injustice.
“We have a health crisis. An economic crisis. A racial justice crisis,” Biden said.”… And we need to come together as Americans to solve them.
“This is our moment to imagine and to build a new American economy for our families and the next generation.”
Biden’s plan includes extending COVID crisis unemployment; a Public Health Jobs Corps; money for state, local and tribal governments to fund education, first responders and other needs; ensuring that more money goes into buying American-made products; and investing in infrastructure.
He also talked about increasing funding to programs such as Title I, making childcare more affordable, and making changes to stop systemic racism in economic areas.
As he explained his programs he told the crowd about something his grandfather used to say.
“You know, Joey,” he said, quoting his grandfather, “Everybody deserves a shot.”
Biden’s argument, Thursday, boiled down to his belief that to move forward after the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s the choice to ensure that opportunity.
Correspondent Patrick Abdalla covers northeastern Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. Follow him on Twitter at @PaddyAbs.