Joe Biden landed in Charlotte around noon on Wednesday, and minutes after stepping onto North Carolina soil for the first time since February, his first public words were, “Donald Trump.”
It was in response to a question from pool reporters: “Can you speak about the significance of North Carolina? Polls show a tight race. What gives you the sense that you can win … ?”
After Biden answered with the president’s name, the reporters asked, “What about him?”
“Gives me the sense that I can win.”
And so kicked off a wild two days of presidential candidates elbowing for Charlotte’s affection.
Today, President Trump will be in Charlotte for a private rally by the airport. If their back-to-back appearances are an indication of anything, it’s that North Carolina is a coveted prize.
Biden’s visit: Biden started his afternoon as host, addressing local Black business owners at Camp North End. About 15 people were in attendance at the summit, including mayor Vi Lyles, City Council member Malcolm Graham, and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard (and North Carolina native) Chris Paul.
Subrina and Greg Collier, owners of Leah & Louise and Uptown Yolk, were also in attendance and asked Biden about coronavirus relief on the national level for restaurants.
“What is something that will relieve us? We’re not a big mega-company. We’re not Ruth’s Chris,” Subrina told the Agenda shortly after the summit. She credits the city for helping with grants, but is frustrated at the lack of relief from the federal government. With the Paycheck Protection Program, she would have had to spend it on payroll, despite being closed until mid-June. “What if I need inventory?” she offers as an example.
Greg and Subrina are also the only two representatives from North Carolina on the Biden campaign’s small business council, including other big names in food, Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s and Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s.
After the summit, Biden made a stop at Mert’s Heart & Soul, a Black-owned restaurant that’s been in Uptown for more than 20 years. A restaurant staffer told the Agenda Biden ordered the meatloaf burger and home fries.
Last time he was in Charlotte, it was a surprise trip to the Republican National Convention with Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump. Today, it’ll be a quick stop around 4:30 p.m. with a private rally by the airport to discuss health care and senior care, according to a White House official.
If you’re driving near the airport on Thursday afternoon and evening, expect traffic delays.
If you didn’t catch their visits: Even when they’re not physically in North Carolina, you can’t go long without seeing Trump or Biden in a campaign ad on TV, Facebook, or elsewhere.
The Biden/Harris campaign launched two new ads this week featuring business owners in Rocky Mount, about three hours east of Charlotte.
Trump/Pence’s campaign has invested even more in paid ads in North Carolina, spending $19.6 million compared to Biden’s $15.5 million from early 2020 to August 31.