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    Thursday, July 18, 2024

    Biden, Harris to launch Black voter outreach effort as they see signs of diminished support

    President Joe Biden, left, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, center, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, listen to the National Anthem during an Armed Forces Full Honors Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Philadelphia — President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are stepping up their reelection pitch to Black voters, a key part of their 2020 winning coalition that has shown signs of fraying.

    They'll launch a new Black voter outreach effort during a visit to the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Wednesday. The two will stop at Girard College, an independent boarding school in Philadelphia with a predominantly Black student body, and visit a small business to speak to members of the Black Chamber of Commerce.

    The Philadelphia stops are the start of what the campaign is describing as an eight-figure, summerlong effort to engage Black student organizations, community groups and faith centers.

    "We will continue to be aggressive, innovative, and thorough in our work to earn the support of the very voters who sent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House in 2020 and will do so again in 2024,” said Quentin Fulks, Biden's principal deputy campaign manager.

    The push comes at a moment when Biden has seen his solid support among Black voters show signs of erosion. Among Black adults, Biden’s approval has dropped from 94% when he started his term to just 55%, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll published in March.

    The economy has been a particular thorn in Biden’s side since 2022, when inflation hit a 40-year high. But there have also been signs of discontent in the Black community more recently over Biden's handling of the seven-month Israel-Hamas war.

    Turning out Black voters could prove pivotal for Biden's chances in what are expected to be among the most closely contested states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Biden beat his predecessor and 2024 challenger, former President Donald Trump, in all six states in 2020, but he could face a more difficult climb this year.

    Trump, for his part, has been offering himself as a better president for Black voters than Biden. At a rally last week in the Bronx, he railed against Biden on immigration and said “the biggest negative impact” of the influx of migrants in New York is “against our Black population and our Hispanic population who are losing their jobs, losing their housing, losing everything they can lose.”

    The Biden campaign says it hopes to use the new engagement effort in part to remind Black voters of some of the Democratic administration's achievements of his term.

    The Black unemployment rate sits at 5.6%, according to the latest federal government data, compared to the average of about 8% from 2016 to 2020 and 11% from 2000 to 2015. Black household wealth has surged, and Biden's effort to cancel billions in student loan debt has disproportionately impacted Black borrowers.

    Biden also points to his appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court and his pick of Harris as the first Black woman to serve as vice president.

    The president's visit to Philadelphia follows on a series of engagements with Black community members in recent weeks, including hosting plaintiffs in the 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down institutionalized racial segregation in public schools, a commencement address at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and a virtual address to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s racial justice conference.

    President Joe Biden delivers the Memorial Day Address at the 156th National Memorial Day Observance in the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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