Joe Biden Rallies Supporters, Undecided Voters At Campaign Stop In Durham

Oct 27, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden held a campaign rally in Durham's historically-black Hillside High School on Sunday. The former vice president is trying to build support in North Carolina ahead of the key Super Tuesday primary in March.

Among those attending the rally was Lila Little, who hasn't made up her mind on who she’ll vote for yet. Little came from Chapel Hill with her granddaughter, who will be a first-time voter in 2020.

“I like Joe Biden, and I want to hear more from him,” Little said. “And this is the best way to do it... not by clips and sound bites, but in person.”

I like Joe Biden, and I want to hear more from him. And this is the best way to do it... not by clips and sound bites, but in person. -Lila Little

Others, like McKinkley Cardwell, are already sold. Cardwell drove for two hours from Appomattox, Virginia, to hear Biden speak.

"I really do believe in what he has going for him, what he believes in, and just the compassion of a man who has been through so many trials and tribulations,” Cardwell said.

Biden has spent lots of time in South Carolina for that state's key early primary in late February, but North Carolina's primary is just three days later. He held a fundraiser in August in Charlotte.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden takes a selfie with supporters during a campaign rally in Durham's historically-black Hillside High School on Sunday, October 27, 2019.
Credit Peyton Sickles / For WUNC

Barack Obama and Biden won North Carolina's 15 electoral votes in the 2008 general election, marking the first and only time since 1976 that the Democratic ticket has been victorious in the state.

At Sunday’s rally, Duke Student Adrianna Williams started off the event with an Obama campaign chant.

"Fired up! Ready to go! Fired Up!” she said, cheering on the crowd.  

Congressman G.K. Butterfield then took the stage. He's one of several black congressional leaders who've endorsed Biden.

“We need a candidate who can win this states and the other states that went red in 2016,” Butterfield said. “That candidate, my friend, is Joe Biden.”

While Biden's been losing ground in national polls to his closest rival, Elizabeth Warren, he remains popular among black voters and moderate Democrats in North Carolina. Biden leads the Democratic primary in the state with 39%, while Warren holds 22%, Buttigieg 9%,  and Sanders 6 %, according to a recent poll by Public Policy Poling.

“It’s good to be back with so many old friends,” Biden said to the crowd of several hundred supporters. “This state was critical in delivering the presidency for Barack Obama and he sort of dragged me along with him.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to a crowd of several hundred supporters during a campaign rally in Durham's Hillside High School on Sunday, October 27, 2019.
Credit Peyton Sickles / For WUNC

Among the issues he addressed on Sunday, Biden said he has a feasible plan to pick up where Obamacare left off in expanding access to healthcare.

"We can do it all for 1/50th of what 'Medicare For All' will do,” said Biden, referencing his rivals' idea for putting all Americans on a single healthcare plan. “We're not going to have to wait for four years or eight years or whatever the number of years, or have some kind of pattern. We can do it now, immediately, on the job, now."

When it comes to fundraising, Biden has some catching up to do. He's lagging his top primary opponents. After the rally, he headed to a fundraiser in Durham.

At the end of the rally, McKinley Cardwell left feeling just as enthused as he did before it started.

“I feel 100 percent, as I always did from the beginning, this man has it,” Cardwell said.

Others, like Mike Pollock from Chapel Hill, are still deciding.

“I think everybody’s probably still shopping around and that includes us,” Pollock said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.