Biden: Election Is Between ‘Alliance and Park Avenue’

ALLIANCE, Ohio – Tom Davis, like many workers at General Motors’ Lordstown complex, faced what he recalled as “an agonizing decision and an uncertain economic future” when GM announced it was shuttering the Lordstown plant last year.

Davis, who was hired at the plant in 2001, ended up accepting a transfer to GM’s plant in Bowling Green, Ky., leaving his wife, Tiffany, a Lordstown Elementary School teacher, and two children in Girard, where they attend school.

“It was devastating and confusing and it still is,” she said. “We’re still trying to navigate the process and figure out the right thing to do.”

The plant closed less than two years after President Donald Trump told the audience at a July 2017 rally in Youngstown that he would keep plants like GM Lordstown open and save manufacturing jobs, Davis told journalists and a few regional leaders before introducing former Vice President Joe Biden.

Tom Davis, former worker at GM Lordstown, addresses those gathered in Alliance.

Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, stopped at the Amtrak station in Alliance Wednesday. The visit was part of his Build Better Back train tour that followed the debate Tuesday with President Donald Trump in Cleveland. He spoke for about 10 minutes at the stop and fielded questions from reporters for another 13 minutes.

Davis said he now makes the eight-hour drive back each weekend to see his family, a situation he said is not unique.

“Our friends and family are now scattered throughout the country, either working at other General Motors plants or continuing to look for work,” he said.

“We know the truth,” he added. “Our community was left behind by Donald Trump and his broken promises. Biden has a plan to build the economy back for working and mobilize Ohioans’ talent, grit and innovation.”

Alliance, which notably was a train stop for the newly elected President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, was founded at the intersection of two major railroads, Biden said.

“Alliance started as a place where people came together, and it’s what we so badly need to do now in this country,” he said.

The Davises, as well as others Biden said he spoke with on the train, shared their concerns, including plant closings and potentially losing health-care protections. They aren’t looking for a handout but are “just looking for a fair shot, to be seen, to be understood, to be heard,” he said.

The former vice president empathized with Davis’ plight specifically, noting that his father, when he lost his job in Scranton, Pa., had to take a job three and a half hours away.

FormJoe Biden addresses the crowd as his wife, Jill, looks on.

“That’s what last night’s debate was about, [what] this whole election’s about: Does your president have any idea or understand what you’re going through and if he does, does he care about it?” he asked. “Or does he just ignore you, look down on you, lie to you like this president did, when he told Ohio workers don’t sell your house because no more factories are going to close?”

This year’s election “is between Scranton and Park Avenue, Alliance and Park Avenue,” Biden continued. Hard-working Americans built the country, not Wall Street and CEOs, he stressed.

“The middle class built this country and unions built the middle class,” he emphasized.

He criticized Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, both in terms of the spread of the virus and the high number of deaths, as well as the administration’s failure to address the economic consequences.

“Instead of being in the sand trap at his golf course, he should be in the White House and the Oval Office, inviting Democrats and Republicans to be there with him and to settle how we’re going to make sure we can bail out these small businesses that are going under. Make sure people can keep their insurance. Making sure that we have the ability to open stores and our schools safely,” he said.

“By the way, I find it fascinating they had time at the end of this election to hold a hearing on a Supreme Court justice, but the Senate does not have time to deal with making sure that schools and businesses have the PPE they need,” he added.

During the debate, Trump didn’t want to address the more than 205,000 dead from COVID-19 and seven million-plus infected, he said.

Biden called the debate “a wake-up call for all Americans” and specifically noted the president’s failure to condemn white supremacists.

Biden said his message to the far right Proud Boys, who Trump told to “stand back and stand by,” is “cease and desist.”

He also criticized the president for indicating that he would not consider the election legitimate if he lost.

“He’s already begun to plant the seed of doubt in the legitimacy of this election. I don’t know any presidents that have ever done that before,” he said.

“Notwithstanding where we are right now, I’m extremely optimistic. That’s because the American people know this is not who we are,” he said. “They’re ready to get up again. They’re ready to come back. We just have to give them a shot.”

The Trump campaign blasted Biden’s debate performance in an emailed statement that arrived about 30 minutes before Biden’s train stop in Alliance.

“After Joe Biden’s weak performance last night, he still owes Ohioans a lot of answers on his vote for NAFTA that destroyed thousands of jobs, support for China’s ‘most favored nation status’ in the WTO, and why he refuses to condemn Democrats’ assault on the brave men and women of law enforcement,” Trump Victory spokesman Dan Lusheck said.

Attending Wednesday’s event were Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, and Portage County Commissioner Kathleen Clyde, as well as Rev. Michael Harrison, president of the Ohio Baptist Convention. Only Biden and Davis spoke and no other elected officials were introduced.

Brown, who endorsed Biden last year, said he had a “good conversation” with Biden regarding the city’s needs, particularly with regard to coronavirus relief. While no specific solutions were discussed, the former vice president said Youngstown “would have a seat at the table,” the mayor said.

Biden and Trump supporters were both on hand for the event.

The crowd of Biden supporters across the street from the train station grew from a couple dozen prior to the event to a few hundred, dwarfing the Trump supporters who had outnumbered them earlier and mostly departed shortly after the event.

Among the Biden supporters on hand was Dion Freeman, a retired postal worker from Youngstown.

Freeman was blunt in his assessment of Trump, calling him a “predator,” “cheat” and someone who gropes women.

“He’s not presidential,” he said. He also described him as a “bully” during the previous night’s debate, and wanted to hear more about recent reports that he paid little or no taxes for several years.

Stacie Factora of North Canton, with her son, Gabriel, joined the Biden supporters. She was disappointed by the debate as well, calling it “disappointing.”

Factora said she wasn’t a “strong Democrat” but was backing Biden because she wanted to show her son someone he could look up to.

“This is how presidents behave. He cares for everybody,” she said.

Pictured at top: Former Vice President Joe Biden, stops in Alliance Wednesday for his Build Better Back train tour following Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.