Biden Pitches to Blue-Collar Workers in Pennsylvania

Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for president, said that his economic plan would raise taxes on the wealthy to create unionized infrastructure jobs and that he would not ban fracking.

“The fact is the president can only see the world from Park Avenue. I see it from Scranton. I see it from Claymont for real. You all know what I’m talking about. You all see it from Erie. That’s why my program to build back better is focused on working people.” “And I’m not going to raise taxes on anybody making less than 400 grand. But, but, you won’t pay a penny more. But those making more than that, I’m going to ask them to finally begin to pay their fair share. I’m going to ask the big corporations and the wealthy to begin to pay. Ninety-one of the Fortune 500 companies today pay zero tax. You hear me? Zero tax. How many of you pay zero tax?” “So I’m going to raise — the money I’m going to raise, we’re going to allow us to invest in working people and grow the middle class back and make sure everyone comes along this time. My plan is about making the kinds of investments that are going to stimulate economic growth.” “We’re going to fix water pipes — pipelines, replace lead pipes, upgrade treatment plants. We’re going to construct 1.5 million new affordable housing units. We’re going to build a hundred billion dollars rebuilding our schools. We’re going to retrofit — which we started our administration — four million buildings, including advanced heating and cooling systems. There’s going to be such a race to job creation for unions that you’re not going to believe it.” “The fact is that every time the word climate change comes up, Donald Trump thinks hoax. Every time it comes up, I think jobs. Let me be clear: No matter how many lies he tells, I am not, not, not banning fracking, period.”

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Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for president, said that his economic plan would raise taxes on the wealthy to create unionized infrastructure jobs and that he would not ban fracking.CreditCredit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. will continue promoting his economic message to “Build Back Better” in a trip to Ohio on Monday, where he will deliver remarks in Toledo before a visit to Cincinnati. It was a message he pushed over the weekend, swinging through a county in Pennsylvania that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012, and making a direct pitch to union and blue-collar workers on Saturday afternoon, in a speech laden with economic populist tones.

“There’s going to be such a race for job creation for unions, you’re not going to believe it,” Mr. Biden said, in a speech that was slightly truncated to escape the looming rain storms. “The only power we have is union power. You’re the guys who keep the barbarians on the other side of the gate from taking everything.”

But as Mr. Biden, the former vice president, and his campaign try to home in on an economic message in this closing stretch, he has refused to answer questions about his position on potentially expanding the Supreme Court if Republicans confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett, saying he won’t reveal his position until after the election. Mr. Trump, struggling in many polls, and other Republicans have sought to use the issue as a cudgel.

“The only packing going on is this court is being packed now by the Republicans after the vote has already begun,” Mr. Biden said in a brief Q. and A. session with reporters on the tarmac. “I’m going to stay focused on it so we don’t take our eyes off the ball here.”

On Thursday, Mr. Biden told reporters that Americans would know his opinion on expanding the Supreme Court “when the election is over,” and on Friday, he cut off a reporter who had begun to ask whether voters deserved to know his position on the issue, saying he was not going to play the Republican “game.” Last year, he made plain that he opposed expanding the courts but he has in recent weeks sought to cast the question as a Republican distraction.

Before his speech on Saturday, Mr. Biden toured a training center at a local plumbers union, again striking a message directed to blue-collar, working-class voters.

And, offering clear evidence about the importance of winning Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden was emphatic that he would not ban fracking.

“No matter how many lies he tells, I am not, not, not banning fracking,” Mr. Biden said, referring to Mr. Trump.

Before boarding his plane to leave Erie, Mr. Biden sought to clean up a quote he made during his speech — “The only way we lose this is by the chicanery going on relative to polling places” — that was being interpreted as a similar comment to the ones Mr. Trump has been making, falsely depicting a rigged election process.

“What I was referencing is the attempts that are made to try to influence and scare people from voting,” Mr. Biden said, saying his initial remarks were being taken out of context. “We should not pay attention to them. The American people are voting. They’re voting in large numbers. They’re going to determine the outcome, and I’m going to accept the outcome of the election without any question.”

The comments come as Mr. Biden has been leaning into a more populist message, pitching his campaign as Scranton versus Park Avenue, a reference to his hometown in Pennsylvania and the wealthy allies of Mr. Trump’s. He spent the top portion of his remarks at the union center recounting his blue-collar roots and how his father lost his job in Pennsylvania, which led to the family’s relocation to Delaware.

Once a deeply Democratic county, Erie was one of only three counties that Mr. Obama won in both 2008 and 2012 but Mr. Trump carried in 2016. As Pennsylvania is increasingly considered as one of the “tipping point” states that could swing the election, winning back voters in counties like Erie has increasingly been a focus of the Biden campaign. Saturday’s trip marked Mr. Biden’s 11th visit to Pennsylvania, according to his campaign.


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