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‘This cannot be a partisan moment,’ Joe Biden urges during Grand Rapids stop

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden laid out his plan to help the U.S. bounce back economically from the COVID-19 pandemic Friday afternoon, making the case that a unified front is necessary to help the nation recover.

Wearing a mask as he addressed reporters and a handful of members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union during an outdoor Grand Rapids appearance, Biden called the economic turn since the pandemic the most unequal recovery in modern history,” citing continued high unemployment rates, more people dropping out of the workforce and additional stress being put on essential workers.

We can get this pandemic under control so we can get our economy working again for everyone, but this cannot be a partisan moment,” he said. “It must be an American moment. We have to come together as a nation.”

The Grand Rapids event was held outdoors, and observers were seated in chairs marked by white circles in an effort to observe social distancing.

The event was delayed for several hours and another scheduled Michigan stop was canceled while Biden awaited COVID-19 test results. He and his wife Jill Biden were tested following the announcement that Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19.

The two candidates appeared on stage for the first presidential debate two days ago, though they remained distanced and did not shake hands.

During his speech, Biden highlighted plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 and raise taxes on individuals making more than $400,000 per year.

He also said investing in small businesses was a priority: “We’re going to make sure small businesses come out on the other side of this terrible circumstance with access to capital and the ability to deal with the debts have been accumulated during this pandemic,” he said.

Biden urged people to take the pandemic seriously, calling the act of wearing masks in public “patriotic.”

It’s not about being a tough guy. It’s about doing your part,” he said.

Biden’s visit to Kent County signals an effort by Democrats to make inroads in what’s traditionally been a Republican region of Michigan. The city of Grand Rapids leans Democrat like most urban communities, but the surrounding county is also undergoing a political shift.

Trump won Kent County in 2016 when he won the state of Michigan by 10,704 votes, but earned the fewest Kent County votes of any Republican presidential candidate since 1996.

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