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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bidens make Clinton campaign's last pitch at FAMU: Go vote

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden address supporters at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee on Monday, one day before Election Day.

Michael Auslen | Times/Herald

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden address supporters at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee on Monday, one day before Election Day.



With just 30 hours until Election Day polls close in most of Florida, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, made one final plea Monday afternoon for Democratic voters to turn out in North Florida.

“There’s not a thing we cannot do — so vote!” the vice president told supporters gathered outside on the campus of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. 

Polls show the presidential race in Florida neck and neck, and turnout in reliably-blue Leon County could help push Hillary Clinton over the edge to claim the state’s 29 electoral votes. The selection of FAMU as a venue for this final plea brings Clinton students and black voters, two groups that tend to heavily favor her presidential campaign over Republican rival Donald Trump’s.

Biden said that he has relied in all his elections on African American voters. He would not have ever become senator or vice president if not for the support of black voters in Delaware, Biden said.

Before the Bidens took the stage, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum asked how many had voted early. Most of the hands in the crowd shot up.

Gillum, a FAMU alumnus, urged them to knock on doors, gather their friends who haven’t voted and to show up at the polls Tuesday. “Arrive with five,” he said. That’s five friends who plan to support Clinton.

Monday’s event was not Dr. Biden’s first time at FAMU. In the final days of the 2008 presidential campaign, she and first lady Michelle Obama rallied about 8,000 supporters on the campus.

“The stakes are too high and the margins are too narrow for us to do nothing,” Dr. Biden said Monday.

The vice president’s speech took a turn toward policy partway through, and while the crowd calmed down, he made the case for U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s Senate bid, trying to tie incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio to Trump’s record, though Rubio has shied away from the Republican nominee.

Trump and Rubio, Biden said, would promote public policy and tax laws that would cut investment in historically black colleges like FAMU, as well as on health care.

With the end of the election near and after Clinton and Trump put a heavy emphasis on the state during early voting, neither campaign has many events scheduled in Florida before polls close. This evening, Biden joins Murphy and former Gov. Charlie Crist in St. Petersburg for a Jimmy Buffett concert and rally.

Trump had his last scheduled Florida event this morning in Sarasota.

The vice president’s final message in Tallahassee was one of continuity. Clinton’s name was rarely mentioned, but Biden made this case: Her presidency would be a continuation of President Barack Obama’s.

He told a story about standing on a train platform with his family on Jan. 18, 2009, waiting to be picked up to go to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration.

“A black man was coming to pick up this kid to go the 127 miles to Washington, D.C., to be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States,” Biden said. “This is no time to turn that train around. This is a time to step on it. This is a time to move faster."

[Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2016 4:18pm]


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