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Biden campaign launches ad that highlights his Pennsylvania roots

President Joe Biden spent the first 10 years of his life living in Scranton.

By Anna Gustafson - October 06, 2023
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President Joe Biden speaks at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Sept. 11, 2023, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A Biden-Harris campaign ad that rolled out this week says President Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was instrumental in shaping his political beliefs.

“He grew up a middle-class kid in a middle-class town, and while Joe Biden’s traveled far and wide, Scranton, Pennsylvania, has never left him,” the voice-over begins in the one-minute spot that is being aired in cities throughout the country.

The ad, titled “Never Left,” launched Tuesday. It’s part of a $25 million television and digital media advertising push that the Biden-Harris campaign announced in August. The ads, including one targeted at Black voters and another that highlights dropping inflation and low unemployment, are playing in battleground states.

The “Never Left” ad will air in Scranton, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The campaign also plans to air the ad across the country, reaching cities in Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It highlights Biden administration efforts to make health care more affordable for Americans, including by enacting legislation that allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

The spot first aired on the same day the administration announced that the manufacturers of all 10 drugs selected for price negotiation had signed agreements to participate in the Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare Drug Price Negotiation program.

“This ad serves as an early reminder of the choice Americans will face next year: between MAGA Republicans whose agenda would give tax handouts to the ultra-rich at the expense of working people, or Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ agenda for the middle class,” Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the campaign manager for Biden-Harris 2024, said in a prepared statement.

Scranton, a city that was an industrial powerhouse from the late 1800s through the mid-20th century, has been at the forefront of the oft-told story of Biden’s childhood. When candidate Barack Obama announced Biden as his pick for vice president in 2008, he described his running mate as the “scrappy kid from Scranton who beat the odds.”

The president was born in Scranton on Nov. 20, 1942, and he spent the first decade of his life there. His family moved to Delaware in 1953 after Biden’s father landed a job selling cars in Wilmington.

“He knows what life is like for working people and knows middle class life is too expensive right now,” the voiceover in the campaign ad says. “That’s why he’s passing laws to lower costs.”

When Biden campaigned for Democrats before the November 2022 midterm elections, the Associated Press reported the president told supporters in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh County: “I believe that home is where your character is etched, and I really believe that. … It’s where your view of the world begins.”

At that event, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said Biden  experienced challenges similar to those faced by working class families across the country while he lived in Scranton. Biden and his family left Scranton because his father could not find work there.

“I think the longest walk a parent can make is up a short flight of stairs to tell their kid, ‘You can’t live here anymore,’” Biden said at the Lehigh Valley campaign stop. “‘You can’t because dad doesn’t have a job’ or ‘mom don’t have a job.’”

Scranton is the seat of Lackawanna County, which Biden won by about 8 percentage points in the 2020 election and which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won by 3 percentage points in her bid against Republican Donald Trump in 2016.

According to a poll published Wednesday by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, 70% of registered Democrats in Pennsylvania would support Biden in the Democratic primary. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine activist and environmental lawyer, landed support from 17% of registered Democrats, and author Marianne Williamson received 5%.

That same poll reported that in a hypothetical 2024 general election matchup between Biden and Trump, Biden would receive 45% support from Pennsylvania voters and Trump would receive 47%.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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