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Jill Biden assures Dearborn: 'You will have a seat at the table'

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Dearborn — Former second lady Jill Biden made campaign stops in Michigan Tuesday to encourage residents to turn in their absentee ballots and energize Arab American voters.

The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke to dozens of local officials and Arab American community members during a voter mobilization event in the parking lot of Shatila Bakery on Dearborn's east side.

Jill Biden gives her remarks during her campaign stop at Shatila Bakery to energize the Arab American voters.

During her 15-minute speech, she said the former vice president will be "a president for all Americans."

"He has a plan to end this pandemic, to rebuild, to reimagine a future that's better than ever," she told the socially distanced crowd. "That means restoring our values as a nation of immigrants and defending the civil rights of all Americans, including the Arab American community that has contributed so much to our nation."

If Biden is elected, she assured the community that they will have a seat at the table and that their voices will be heard. 

"It means providing resources to help your small businesses recover from the crises and creating millions of good-paying jobs," she said, touting Shatila, a staple business in the city. "But he can't do it without you. Your community matters to this campaign."

U.S. Rep Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, introduced Biden.

"Jill and Joe stood by me and John in some of the best moments and worst moments in our life. They were rocks to me," Dingell told her constituents. "They are the most local, devoted friends you could ever have and are true allies to the Arab American community."

The Michigan campaign of President Donald Trump played up how Joe Biden's son Hunter was employed on the board of a Ukrainian energy company despite having little experience in the field during Biden's vice presidency.

"Joe Biden had 47 years to help families across America, yet he used his position to enrich his own son’s pockets with foreign dollars," Trump Victory spokesman Chris Gustafson said in a statement. "Michiganders want leadership with real results, which is why in 14 days they will reject Joe Biden and re-elect President Trump." 

A small group of supporters came out to hear Jill Biden campaign speech.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont was the last presidential candidate to visit Dearborn in March when he packed the gymnasium of Salina Intermediate School and talked about air pollution from industrialization in the city's south end.

"I think that our community is predominantly behind Joe Biden. Of course, there's always going to be pockets of people that feel differently," said Wayne County Commissioner Sam Baydoun. "Jill said there's a president for all of us, and in a time of great division— not in Dearborn, but in the U.S. — people just want a president to set the tone and it starts from the top."

In the last two weeks, residents need a reason to vote for something as opposed to just voting against something, said Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn.

"We know all the reasons why not Trump. I don't know if anybody knows all the reasons why Biden," Hammoud said. "I will say the campaign is engaged with our community more than we've seen in years prior. He's not with us on every single issue, but they give us faith that our community will be invited to the decision-making table, and I think that's what we can take with us to the ballot box."

Dearborn City Council President Susan Dabaja said the Biden campaign is worth backing and believes the country can come together under a steady hand.

"It's not about mirroring our full beliefs, at this point, we need a leader who can serve with a balanced hand and I know (Joe Biden) will lead with a balanced hand," she said.

Biden also made stops in Detroit for an urban farm tour at Keep Growing Detroit Farm and Madison Heights for a women's canvassing launch. Her day was set to end with a car rally in Saginaw. 

On the sidelines, residents like Julie Bouman traveled from surrounding cities to see Biden speak at Shatila and wave signs along Warren Avenue.

"The Affordable Care Act is so important for people like me, especially after I had my stroke from my pre-existing condition. I'm not yet at Medicare age and after losing my health care, I'll do what I can to see that this administration gets elected," said Bouman, 63, from Allen Park.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_