President Joe Biden chose Maryland as the site to make his closing statement for Democratic candidates in the midterm elections, telling party faithful at a rally in Bowie Monday night that it’s crucial to defeat dangerous Republican ideas.
If more Democrats are elected to Congress, Biden said, Democrats can codify reproductive rights, ban assault weapons and protect democracy, Biden said during the rally at a gymnasium at Bowie State University.
“The power of America lies where it always does: in your hands, the hands of the people,” Biden said while standing in front of a large blue banner reading, “Building a Better America.” Supporters were placed behind the stage, waving signs with messages including “Vote” and “Union Strong.”
Biden ran through a list of what he described as Democratic successes, including passing the Inflation Reduction Act, capping the price of insulin and requiring Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
As Biden spoke, at least three different people in the crowd, in different sections of Bowie State’s gym, yelled and tried to disrupt the proceedings. Each time, people around them burst into chants of “Let’s Go, Joe! Let’s Go Joe!” as the president barreled forward with his speech.
Biden encouraged voters to vote for Democratic candidate for governor Wes Moore and Democrats up and down the ballot.
Moore is “the real deal,” Biden said.
“He will be a great and historic governor of Maryland,” Biden said.
Biden criticized Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox without mentioning his name directly. He said Cox is an election denier and supporter of insurrectionists.
Biden recalled the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when then-President Donald Trump’s supporters overran the U.S. Capitol as the 2020 election results were certified. He reminded the crowd that Cox has promoted election conspiracy theories and posted on Twitter that then-Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor” for not halting the certification.
“Wes’s opponent supported that mob,” Biden said.
Moore, who spoke ahead of the president, recalled his campaign mantra, a repurposed military slogan: “Leave No One Behind.”
“I want to be clear: After tomorrow, if I am blessed enough” — he paused as the gym filled with cheers — “if I am blessed enough to be your next governor, we are going to make that our mission of the state of Maryland. Maryland will be a state that leaves no one behind.”
Moore asked those supporting him to stay with him even after Election Day.
“If we stand divided, we cannot win. But if we stand united, we cannot lose,” he said, adding: “Democracy is not a singular act.”
And Moore, an Army veteran, leaned into the theme of patriotism that he’s been promoting, especially in interviews with national media outlets. “Loving your country,” he said, “does not mean lying about it.”
Maryland served as bookends for Biden’s midterm campaigning, as he launched his efforts with a rally in Rockville in late August. In that speech, Biden said Democrats have the opportunity to move America forward as “a nation of unity, of hope, of optimism.”
Biden has spent the past few days stumping for vulnerable Democratic candidates in other states, including gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. Democrats are increasingly seeing Moore’s potential election as governor as a bright spot if there is a “red wave” of Republican victories.
Earlier on Monday, Biden spoke to Democratic state party leaders across the country, urging them to “go full bore until the last poll closes,” according to a transcript released by the White House.
A few hours later in Maryland, Biden’s task was relatively easier. All of the statewide Democratic candidates are favored to win, with significant leads in independent polls: Moore, Anthony Brown for state attorney general, Brooke Lierman for state comptroller and Chris Van Hollen for U.S. Senate.
Biden does not have strong popularity across the board in Maryland — a Goucher College/Baltimore Banner/WYPR poll in September found his approval rating at 48% — but he remains a star figure among Democratic Party loyalists.
Republican candidates have seized on Biden’s lackluster favorability in their campaign ads in Maryland, with many criticizing their Democratic rivals as being in step with the “Biden agenda.”
Moore, 44, is a first-time candidate who has been an investment banker, bestselling author, Army captain and head of a large nonprofit organization.
Cox, 48, is a lawyer who has served one term in the House of Delegates and who enjoys backing from former President Trump. Trump has not campaigned for Cox in Maryland, but Cox traveled to Trump’s Mar-A-Lago property in Florida for a fundraiser in October.
A series of speakers took the stage to stir up the crowd’s excitement, reciting Democratic victories and promising a brighter future if they’re elected into office. They urged those in the crowd to vote — if they haven’t already — and to encourage others to vote.
“We’re a wake-up call away from Election Day and the stakes are very high,” said U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Republicans, Hoyer said, want to attack a woman’s ability to have reproductive choice, cut Social Security and “undermine American democracy.”
“After tomorrow night, our state will be better than it is today,” said Yvette Lewis, chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party. “But the work doesn’t end there … Nov. 8 is not the finish line, but Nov. 9 and every day after that is when the real work begins.”
Several speakers emphasized the diversity of the Democrats running for statewide office, saying they’ll be better positioned to understand and address the needs of residents in the most diverse state on the East Coast.
“This is a barrier-breaking election,” said Anthony Brown, a congressman running for attorney general who would be the first Black Marylander in that position.
Moore, if elected, would be the state’s first Black governor and only the third elected Black governor in the nation’s history. Miller would be the first immigrant and woman of color as lieutenant governor in Maryland and Lierman would be the first woman as comptroller.
As Biden and Democrats spoke in Bowie Monday night, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan ran a bit of counterprogramming with a digital ad targeted to the Bowie area. The video ad is titled “Exhausted Majority” — a line that the outgoing governor has been using in his own travels around the country as he weighs a presidential run.
“Now, Joe Biden said he would govern from the center, but instead he caters to the far-left extremes of his party. And he flails from crisis to crisis, showing weakness to the world,” Hogan says in the ad, a clip from a speech he gave in New Hampshire last month.
In the ad, Hogan criticizes Biden for inflation, an “energy crisis,” violent crime and overspending, all of which he says represents “failed leadership.”
“Our nation’s true strength comes from the exhausted majority of Americans who are united in defense of the values that make our nation great,” Hogan says, turning to a riff on his old campaign slogan: “We can change our nation for the better.”
The ad was paid for by An America United, Hogan’s political organization.
Supporters of Cox held signs and waved at motorists at one of the entrances to Bowie State’s campus on Monday night. One of the signs read: “Democrats for Cox.”
Election Day voting in Maryland runs from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday.