The iconic duo talked about the urgency of the election, what Michiganders need, and how a Biden-Harris administration can get us all back on track.
MICHIGAN — With one final weekend before Election Day, Michigan was front and center for a last push to get people out to the polls. And the campaign event did not disappoint.
Barack Obama, the 44th president, and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden—his vice president who is now campaigning to be the nation’s 46th—held drive-in rallies in the two predominantly Black cities where strong voter turnout will be essential to swing the longtime Democratic state to Biden’s column after Trump won it in 2016.
In Flint, supporters were asked to pause honking their car horns while the architects of the 44th presidential administration spoke. That didn’t stop one excited Michigan woman from repeatedly yelling that she loved former President Obama.
Rallying Flint by Day
Early in the afternoon, the pair that occupied the White House during the 44th presidential administration hosted a car rally in Flint. Michiganders like Kristina Lakey commemorated the occasion with a nod to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
She also made a statement on her car for the drive-in event; just one of hundreds parked to make a statement about Michigan’s needs in a national leader.
Sen. Gary Peters and addressed the crowd before former President Barack Obama encouraged voters to cast ballots for him in the election.
“We’ve got to leave no doubt about who we are and what this country stands for,” Obama later said of Peters’ reelection campaign. “And if we do, we will send Gary Peters back to the Senate, and we will [re]elect a man who loves this country and who cares about you and who will fight for every single one of us.”
With the weight of the presidency behind him, Obama was comfortable sharing his true feelings about President Trump with Michigan voters, while encouraging them to stay safe during the pandemic.
On stage, Biden confidently addressed masked voters (who sat safely in their cars) about his plans for the economy and his disagreement with the president’s characterization of the military.
That was just the start of Biden and Obama’s day in Michigan. Next they’d head to Detroit, but they weren’t done mingling with Michiganders.
The pair detoured briefly at the Birmingham Unitarian Church in West Bloomfield where they surprised young, suburban election volunteers who’d arrived at the church to pick up their canvassing materials.
Rocking Detroit by Night
As Biden and Obama made their way to Detroit, supporters were gathering on Belle Isle in anticipation. Voters lined Jefferson Ave. in hopes of catching a glimpse of the caravan on its way to the campaign stage.
And, of course, there was entertainment—just the big names you’d expect from the city.
The Detroit Youth Choir engaged the crowd and key Michigan leaders took the stage to inspire the sea of nearly 500 cars in the parking lot.
Motown musical legend Stevie Wonder was on hand to remind voters of what’s at stake this election. Complemented by a full band, the multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter performed several of his classic hits, including an election-themed remix of “Superstitious.”
Obama told voters that this election is the most important “of our lifetime.”
“And that includes mine, which was pretty important,” said Obama, urging everyone to get to the polls.
And also called his former vice president his brother.
Before leaving the stage, the former president took more than a few shots at current administration, including calling Trump out directly.
“Did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Was he traumatized?” Obama said. “The country’s going through a pandemic. That’s not what you’re supposed to be worrying about.”
Why Michigan Matters So Much Right Now
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.
Biden’s campaign announced it was sending Obama to Florida and Georgia on Monday. He is the campaign’s most valuable asset to help energize the nonwhite voters Democrats so badly need to defeat Trump.
“Joe Biden is my brother. I love Joe Biden, and he will be a great president,” Obama said Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.