The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) after President Biden's speech at Independence Hall on Sept. 1, 2022.

Credit: Jesse Zhang

After President Joe Biden's speech in Philadelphia Thursday evening, The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) about the importance of college student political activism and his thoughts on Biden's remarks. 

Biden's speech, delivered in front of Independence Hall at 8 p.m. on Sept. 1., characterized the upcoming general election as a battle between the Democrats and “ultra-MAGA Republicans.” After the speech, Coons spoke with the DP about the importance of civic engagement among college students and his takeaways from Biden's speech. 

Credit: Jesse Zhang

President Biden's podium at Independence Hall on Sept. 1, 2022.

Coons told the DP that he believed college students and activists have had an essential role in the development of recent legislation, citing student activism toward climate justice and student loan forgiveness. 

“It is because of the energy and advocacy of college students that you’ve seen significant actions by our President and Congress in the last few months,” Coons said. “I do not think you would have seen the action on climate that we took just a few weeks ago without advocacy and engagement by the folks who will bear the costs and the burdens of climate change. I don’t think we would have seen the student loan forgiveness actions without persistent advocacy over the last several election cycles.”

Coons added that he appreciated the speech's optimism, noting that he believed Biden's comments "came from [Biden's] heart." 

“The President had a tough challenge to deliver a speech where he, at the same time, issued a dire warning about the threats to our democracy, urged all Americans of whatever their ideology or political background to come together in sustaining our democracy, and then concluded with a note of great optimism about the potential of our future,” Coons said.

Biden began the speech by recognizing the importance of Philadelphia as a birthplace for the Declaration of Independence and the United States of America. 

“Tonight I have come here to the place where it all began to speak plainly to the nation about the threats we face. About the power we have in our own hands to meet those threats. And about the incredible future that lies in front of us if only we choose it,” Biden said. 

Biden added that “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards.”

Credit: Jesse Zhang

Philadelphians waiting for President Biden's motorcade at the intersection of Chestnut and Fifth streets.

In his speech, Biden painted a visionary picture of what he believes America should look like. Biden argued that recent legislation — including his bipartisan infrastructure law, gun safety law, and climate and health care law — serve as progress towards this "different America" that he believes Americans should strive to create. 

“When MAGA Republicans look at America they see carnage and darkness and despair. They spread fear and lies, lies told for profit and power,” Biden said. “But I see a different America. An America with an unlimited future. An America that is about to take off.”

During the speech, Biden was met with hecklers with bullhorns attempting to interrupt his speech — shouting “f**k Joe Biden” repeatedly. Biden acknowledged the disruptor while speaking about the importance of courage and empathy for a healthy democracy.

“Our democracy is imperfect. It always has been — notwithstanding those folks you hear on the other side there. They are entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy,” he said.

Biden then concluded by encouraging listeners to stay politically engaged during November’s election and beyond.

“We cannot afford to leave anyone on the sidelines,” he said. “We need everyone to do their part. So speak up, speak out, get engaged. Vote. Vote. Vote.”

Credit: Jesse Zhang

President Biden's motorcade leaving Independence Hall on Sept. 1, 2022.

Pennsylvania is a battleground state this year — with key competitive races for both U.S. Senate and the governorship.  

This event in Philadelphia is one of three events that Biden has scheduled in Pennsylvania within a week’s time. Biden will speak in Pittsburgh on Labor Day. 

Former President Donald Trump will also be in Pennsylvania this weekend. He is campaigning for the Republican nominees for Senate, Mehmet Oz, and governor, Doug Mastriano, at an event in on Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.