WASHINGTON: Former President Barack Obama is returning to Philadelphia on Wednesday (Oct 21) for his first in-person 2020 campaign event for Joe Biden.
In 2016, the man known as one of the Democratic Party’s strongest orators delivered Hillary Clinton’s closing argument in the same place – at a rally for thousands the night before Election Day on Independence Mall.
Now, with the coronavirus pandemic upending campaigning, Obama will be speaking to a much smaller crowd at a drive-in rally, where supporters will listen to him over the radio inside their cars.
The format reflects the challenge Democrats face in boosting enthusiasm and getting out the vote in a year when they’ve eschewed big rallies in favour of small, socially distanced events, drawing a contrast with President Donald Trump and Republicans on the coronavirus.
While Obama is usually one of the party’s biggest draws and most compelling speakers, that impact may be blunted by the format.
But Democrats say that as one of the men who knows Biden best, both as his former partner in the White House and personally, Obama remains one of the party’s greatest assets in the final stretch of the campaign.
“Especially in Philadelphia, he is the ultimate draw and still a great standard-bearer for Democrats,” said former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Obama's visit to Philadelphia underscores the significance of Pennsylvania, the swing state Biden himself has visited the most this campaign. If Trump loses the state, his path to winning reelection narrows significantly.
And Nutter said Obama's appearance in Philadelphia would help boost the campaign's standing with voters who sat out the last presidential election, as well as voters in the Philadelphia suburbs who supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 but switched to Trump in 2016.
“I think he helps remind people what’s at stake, what being president is about, what things could be like,” Nutter said.
Obama has already been helpful to the Biden campaign, adapting to the shift to virtual events by focusing much of his work on getting younger Americans to vote.
He’s appeared on Twitch, the video game streaming platform, pushed a voter registration message on Snapchat and recorded a video for the Shade Room, a black-owned Instagram page and media company with 21 million followers.
“President Obama has been appearing throughout the pandemic on non-traditional platforms to reach swing voters and mobilise younger voters that don’t consume political media throughout the day," said former Obama press secretary Ben LaBoRead More – Source
Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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