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President Joe Biden visited Philadelphia for his first major 2024 campaign rally on June 17. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

President Joe Biden visited Philadelphia on Saturday, holding his first major event since announcing his bid for re-election. 

While visiting, Biden took a helicopter tour of Northeast Philadelphia to look at the Interstate 95 collapse and spoke at a rally hosted by the AFL-CIO at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), United States Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney joined Biden during his viewing of the collapse site. He then stood by Shapiro as the governor announced I-95’s repair within two weeks, the Inquirer reported. 

“It’s critical. It’s critical to our economy, it’s critical to our quality of life,” Biden said at the news conference. “We’re going to continue to do everything we can within our power to get this back open as quickly, as easily, as possible.” 

Biden then headed to the Pennsylvania Convention Center to face an audience of around 2,000 union members. The AFL-CIO, which hosted the rally and is the largest union federation in the country, joined 17 other unions in endorsing him on Friday. 

“I’m more honored by your endorsement than you can imagine,” Biden said at the rally. “Coming this early, it’s going to make a gigantic difference in this campaign.”

Biden continuously touted his administration’s pro-union stance, just as Vice President Kamala Harris had done in a moderated conversation at the Service Employees International Union’s executive board meeting on June 6. 

“I’m proud to be the most pro-union president in American history,” Biden said. 

Throughout the rally, Biden emphasized the importance of unions in implementing his infrastructure bill, according to the Inquirer — bridging two major themes of his re-election campaign, which he announced in April. 

“I truly believe this country is about to take off. I really believe it,” Biden said. “The investment we’ve made these past three years have the power to transform this country for the next five decades.” 

Biden’s visit is a continuation of his courtship of Philadelphia and union audiences as he ramps up his campaign. He visited the city on Feb. 3 to speak at the Democratic National Convention’s winter meeting amid speculations he would announce his re-election campaign.

A former Benjamin Franklin Professor of Presidential Practice, Biden last visited Penn during Commencement, when his granddaughter and 2023 College graduate Maisy Biden graduated. 

Penn has seen an increase in union activity throughout 2023. Workers at the Penn Museum have been in contract negotiations since October 2021. The Graduate Employees Together at the University of Pennsylvania, comprising over 1,900 Penn student workers, began unionization efforts in April. Additionally, Penn Medicine residents and fellows successfully voted to unionize on May 8, establishing Pennsylvania’s first housestaff union.