President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden team up at the White House Sunday night for a July 4 barbecue with essential workers and military families that marks America’s independence as the country recovers from the pandemic coronavirus.
The event crowns a weekend of travel that the White House billed as the “America’s Back Together” tour, which saw President, First Lady, Vice President Kamala Harris, and her husband, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, deploy across the country to spotlight the administration’s efforts to help the nation bounce back from the COVID crisis – the worst pandemic to sweep the world in a century – and the severe economic recession it triggered.
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The president traveled to northern Michigan on Saturday, chatting with workers and a crowd that had gathered in an orchard on the eve of the country’s 245th anniversary. He joined Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, as well as the state’s two Democratic senators – Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. The president and his entourage then stopped in an ice cream parlor.
“Senators told me it was the best place in the world,” Biden said.
While the president was in Michigan, his wife was in New England, making stops in New Hampshire and Maine. The first lady was joined by the two New Hampshire Democratic senators – Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan – at a barbecue at Shaheen’s daughter’s home in Portsmouth.
“Who would have thought that we would be here again on July 4 together,” said the first lady, discussing how far it has come since the pandemic shut down the country in March and April of last year.
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Stopping at a union training center in Las Vegas, the vice president met with volunteers packing boxes of emergency food for families who have lost their jobs amid the pandemic.
“This year, we won’t just be celebrating our independence,” said Harris. “We will celebrate the resilience of our nation, because this year America comes together, because this year America gets back to work.”
But since Harris was in Nevada, the Republican National Committee took to twitter to point out that “there are still 9.5 million unemployed. At the current rate under Biden, the economy will NOT regain all the jobs lost until JUNE 2022!”
A day earlier, the vice president’s husband met staff, volunteers and spectators as he toured Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah.
“I want to tell you and all Americans to make sure that if you are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated,” Emhoff said.
But the White House recently acknowledged that the nation will not meet the president’s COVID vaccination target. Biden aimed to have at least one injection of COVID in the arms of 70% of the country’s adult population, but health officials said 67% of American adults received at least one injection on Saturday.
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The Bidens went their separate ways on Sunday, with the first lady visiting Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pa. To speak as part of the “America’s Back Together” tour.
Biden, who grew up in suburban Philadelphia, told the crowd “there’s nowhere this Philly girl would rather be here with you.”
While the tour is not seen as overtly political in nature, it should be noted that four of the states visited – Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania – are key presidential battlegrounds that will also host crucial contests. in the 2022 midterm elections.
As the First Lady made her way to Independence Hall, the President went to church and then played a round of golf near their home in Wilmington, Delaware with former Senator Ted Kaufman, a friend Biden’s longtime assistant and advisor.
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Later Sunday, the president and the first lady will welcome around 1,000 people to the South Lawn of the White House, which marks the first large-scale event hosted by the Biden since he began his presidency in late January.
The celebrations come as the contagious delta variant is on the rise. It is currently responsible for more than a quarter of all COVID infections, largely in those who are not fully vaccinated. And that has prompted some of the president’s allies to warn that it is still too early to declare victory in the battle against the pandemic.