Washington, DC – Former President Barack Obama was preparing to hold his first face-to-face event in Philadelphia on Wednesday in support of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
In 2016, the man known as one of the best speakers in the Democratic Party made the final speech of the Hillary Clinton campaign in the same venue, before thousands of people on the eve of Election Day in Independence Park. Now, in a campaign deranged by the coronavirus pandemic, Obama will speak to a much smaller crowd at a rally where attendees will listen to him on the radio from their cars.
The format reflects the challenge for Democrats to generate enthusiasm and get people to vote in a year in which they have held, instead of big acts, small events where social distancing is kept. This is in stark contrast to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
While Obama is one of the most engaging personalities and one of the most eloquent speakers in his party, the format could take a toll on his impact.
But Democrats say Obama, one of those who knows Biden best politically and personally, is one of the party’s most important assets in the final leg of the campaign.
“Especially in Philadelphia, he’s the biggest draw and a great standard bearer for the Democrats,” said former city mayor Michael Nutter.