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Biden and Harris are making a rare joint campaign appearance to shore up support among Black voters

PHILADELPHIA — Preparing for a new phase of the campaign as Donald Trump’s criminal trial draws to a close, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will make a rare joint campaign appearance here Wednesday to shore up a critical constituency in a critical state: black voters in Pennsylvania.

The Democratic ticket will be joined by a rising Democratic star and likely key surrogate, Maryland Governor Wes Moore, as it works to counter Trump’s efforts to make inroads among the voters who helped Biden win the nomination and then the White House four years ago. .

Biden’s campaign has long argued that it sees Black voters differently than previous Democratic campaigns: a targeted voter group whose support is solicited from start to finish, rather than a reliable turnout engine that simply needs to be revved up in the fall. On Wednesday, it will launch Black Voters for Biden at the end of a month characterized as one of the campaign’s most sustained voter outreach efforts to date.

Biden aides teased that Wednesday’s rally will be one of the largest of the campaign as they aim for a show of force as a jury in New York prepares to hand down a verdict in Trump’s hush money trial. Biden, Harris and Moore will also be joined by Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, the first Black man to serve in that role; Cherelle Parker, Philadelphia’s first black female mayor; Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Steven Horsford, D-Nev.; and others.

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“Joe Biden’s approval rating is underwater in Pennsylvania, and he knows it. Despite Biden and Harris’ best efforts to fool Keystone State voters, they know exactly who is responsible for rising costs, a spiraling border crisis and staggering crime rates across the country,” said Rachel Lee, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, in a statement.

Support from black voters in Philadelphia is a crucial part of Biden’s strategy to retake Pennsylvania, which pushed Biden over the 270-vote electoral threshold four years ago. Biden won 81% of the vote in Philadelphia four years ago, although his margin of victory over Trump narrowed slightly from four years earlier.

Isaiah Thomas, a city council member who launched a local initiative known as “Black Men Vote” with fellow council members to encourage voting, said he has seen some resistance in the community when targeting younger black men. He said disinformation – and not just online – has been a particular challenge.

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“Every time I go on social media, I try to watch a game at night, I try to listen to music or YouTube or something like that, it’s everywhere. “I’m always bombarded with how bad Biden is,” he said.

Thomas said it is too early to tell whether the initial concerns for November are raising alarms, but he encouraged the Biden team to do more to get his message across.

“It’s good that the voting figures are known, because it puts us on edge,” he said.

The Rev. Mark Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, said he thinks Biden’s standing will improve as summer begins and people see more of Trump.

“Black voters in particular need to remember the Donald Trump of 2016 to 2020 and the way he conducted himself in the way he took care of our problems or ignored our problems,” he said.

The Biden campaign is relying on what campaign officials call “trusted messengers” like Moore to deliver its message to more skeptical voters who may not want to hear from any of the major parties’ nominees. After the meeting, Biden will visit a small Black-owned business to try to tap into another source of potential local validators.

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Moore is only the third Black person to be elected governor in U.S. history and the first in Maryland. He has said he expects to be on the road regularly for Biden, making the case for Black voters in key battlegrounds. He joined Biden in Georgia in March as part of his post-State of the Union battlefield tour.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore (Julia Nikhinson / AP File)

Maryland Governor Wes Moore (Julia Nikhinson / AP File)

The campaign says Wednesday’s launch of Black Voters for Biden will be followed by events across the country, with surrogates visiting barbershops, block parties and churches throughout the weekend.

“While we are busy working to earn the support of Black America, Donald Trump continues to show how ignorant he is. Organizing janky rap concerts to hide the fact that he lacks the resources and competence to truly engage our community,” Biden campaign chief Quentin Fulks said in a statement. “We will continue to be aggressive, innovative and thorough in our work to earn the support of the same voters who sent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House in 2020.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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