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Jill Biden condemns 'chaos of Donald Trump's America'

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Jill Biden gathered with dozens of educators Thursday to win their votes for her husband, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, promising relief from "Donald Trump's America."

Biden, an educator, took the stage shortly after 2 p.m., speaking to a crowd that had stood in the rain and 41-degree weather to hear her. 

Jill Biden speaks to supporters while campaigning for her husband Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Westland, Mich.

"We aren't divided," Biden said in her roughly 10-minute speech. "We are just trying to survive the chaos of Donald Trump's America."

She was headed next to an event in Westland, but took time to stump for U.S. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, while in Lansing. Peters was at the East Lansing rally. 

"Gary, you’ve been such a leader in the Senate, and Joe needs you back there," Biden said. "Are you ready to send Gary back to Washington and Joe back to the White House?”

About 100 folding chairs were sprinkled across the parking lot behind the Michigan Education Association headquarters for the canvassing launch. Dozens of other participants remained in the vehicles outside the seating area.

Temperatures were taken upon entry and all participants were required to wear a mask.

Biden's address was preceded by comments from MEA President Paula Herbart, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, Peters, and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing. 

Some of their remarks focused on Peters' re-election campaign, but many were focused on the possibility of ousting U.S Education Secretary Betsy DeVos by electing Biden. 

Jill Biden speaks to supporters while campaigning for her husband Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Westland, Mich.

"We have to have a change in this country," Stabenow said. The nation needs a first lady, she said, who is "a strong advocate for public education, who will make sure the current secretary of education is no longer there, Betsy DeVos."

DeVos previously was scheduled to hold a Thursday visit to Detroit, but it was canceled.

The Trump campaign discounted Biden's visit, which precedes a scheduled Saturday event with Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama somewhere in Michigan.

"Jill Biden dropping into the Great Lakes State will do nothing to change the reality on the ground," Trump Victory spokesman Chris Gustafson said in a statement. "In five short days Michigan will reject Joe Biden and his five decades of failed leadership and re-elect President Trump and his 'Promises Made, Promises Kept' agenda."

Trump is visiting the Oakland County community of Waterford Township on Friday, eight days after Vice President Mike Pence campaigned there.

Noah Last wore a pin with Trump’s name slashed out. The 26-year-old East Lansing resident said he will be helping at the polls on Election Day.

“Five days before the election, I’m just making sure Joe Biden’s elected, Gary Peters is re-elected, Elissa Slotkin is re-elected, blue down the line,” he said.

Ingham County teacher Jill Canny was excited to meet Biden, a fellow teacher and someone who Canny saw as a possible force for change in the White House.

“I’m excited that a teacher’s actually going to make some changes that are desperately needed,” she said.

Supporters cheer as Jill Biden speaks during a campaign event for her husband Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Westland, Mich.

Former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the reliably Democratic Ingham County by 27 percentage points in 2016. But most of the surrounding counties voted for President Donald Trump, who won Michigan by a slim margin of 10,704 votes.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum estimated earlier this week that Ingham County residents would cast about 90,000 absentee ballots and had received 73,000 completed ballots as of Tuesday.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com