President Donald Trump, former President Barack Obama, and other representatives of Trump’s and Biden’s campaigns are planning to visit the Keystone State this week.
About two dozen civic leaders, business owners, and community members attended a mini town hall with US Sen. Cory Booker on Sunday afternoon.
The small crowd did the best it could to socially distance in the cozy South Jazz Kitchen, a Black-owned soul food restaurant in the Spring Garden section of Philadelphia, and asked Booker questions about obstacles facing small businesses, coronavirus pandemic relief, and voter suppression, among other things.
Booker talked about a study by management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. that found that if Black-owned businesses in America had the same access to business loans as other businesses, the nation’s economy would grow by $1 [trillion] to $1.5 trillion. That “would mean more jobs, more opportunities for everybody,” Booker said.
A Biden administration, Booker said, would focus on writing legislation that would require outreach to small, minority-owned businesses to give them information about federal loan programs.
“That’s the consciousness that I want to see in our country,” Booker said.
The New Jersey senator and former Democratic presidential candidate is just one of the many big names to visit the Keystone State this week.
Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes, tied for the fifth largest total in the country, and is crucial for an electoral victory.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden visited the National Constitution Center in Old City Philadelphia on Thursday for his town hall.
Republican Vice President Mike Pence spent part of his day Saturday at Reading Regional Airport in Berks County. At the same time, Doug Emhoff, husband of Democratic vice presidential nominee and US Sen. Kamala Harris, made stops at satellite voting offices in Center City Philadelphia and the West Oak Lane section of the city.
Pence is planning to visit Capital City Airport in New Cumberland County today.
President Donald Trump is planning to visit Erie on Tuesday, his second visit to the county in 11 days. The Hill identified Erie County as one of 10 counties across the country that will decide the election.
While Trump is in Erie, his son, Donald Trump Jr., is scheduled to visit State College.
Former President Barack Obama is planning to campaign for Biden in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and Second Lady Karen Pence is planning to campaign for Trump in Mount Joy, Lancaster County on Wednesday.
While Booker made several stops in Philadelphia on Sunday, entrepreneur and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang made stops in the University City, Chinatown, and Northeast sections of the city to campaign for Biden.
“President Obama will be here this week, I’m here. The campaign’s taking nothing for granted,” Yang said during one stop.
Emhoff, Booker, and Yang all focused on encouraging people to vote.
The hardships Black Americans face today should serve as motivation to vote, Booker told the small crowd at South Jazz Kitchen on Sunday.
“The Black-white wealth gap has grown worse throughout my 50 years of life. When my dad was growing up, you didn’t have this level of carnage with Black men dying from gun violence. You didn’t have mass incarceration… there are some counties in America, one in five Black people can’t vote because of felony disenfranchisement. You didn’t have these rates of people who died from heart disease and cancer that we have right now,” Booker said. “And so the question is, ‘Where are we?’ We have to overcome a lot in this country, but if we don’t vote for ourselves, we fall prey to that disinformation.”
And the work doesn’t end on Nov. 3, Booker said.
“You got that young guy on the street that needs to know that this election is the first step, but the second step of Pennsylvania is to pay attention to your Senate race in 2022,” he said. “The 2022 vote will determine whether we hold the Senate or not, and raise the minimum wage here in the state of Pennsylvania. It is so critical that we vote.”
Local civic leader and business owner Rashon Howard told Booker that many people in the community are nervous about the satellite election offices and mail-in voting, and asked what he should tell them.
Booker responded with a popular Philly sports mantra.
“It’s very simple: Go out and vote—now. Don’t wait,” he said. “Trust the satellite sites. Trust the process.”
Booker said he hopes he can come back to Philadelphia in a couple of years and “have this conversation about when, God bless America, we have a [Democratic] majority in the United States Senate to talk about.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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