Biden sends top Obama official to lead racial equity town hall with NC leaders

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Former Vice-President Joe Biden flexed his ties to former President Barack Obama on Thursday by inviting one of the high-profile figures of the Obama White House to be his surrogate at a North Carolina-centered virtual campaign event.

Ninety-five days before the election, Biden leads President Donald Trump in North Carolina -- 48.4 to 45 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average. Biden is looking for inroads with Black voters here to help improve his lead. Biden's presidential campaign arrived in the critical battleground by internet only - holding a virtual town hall centered on Biden's plan to rebuild a racially equitable American economy, left devastated by COVID-19.

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"One of the things this COVID has done is show us how fragile our communities are," said Raleigh State Rep. Yvonne Holley, one of the Democratic state leaders who took part in the roundtable discussion.

The event highlighted Biden's "Build Back Better" economic recovery plan. Thursday's discussion took on Biden's ideas to address systemic racism on an economic and social level.

"I think what has happened is America has experienced a national stress test of all its systems," said Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin.

Former senior advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett talking served as the featured speaker at the roundtable. She spoke one-on-one with ABC11 following the event.



"What my dear friend Joe Biden wants to do is level the playing field," Jarrett said about Biden's plan to tackle racial equity. "He knows that if it's level, we can all compete."

She offered her take on the battle for Tar Heel State voters.

"I think it's all gonna turn on whether we have the energy and the turnout that shows up," Jarrett said.

The roundtable was held during a week where the Triangle has hosted two White House visits. President Trump spent Monday touring RTP laboratories helping to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vice-President Mike Pence spent several hours in Raleigh and Apex on Wednesday with visits to a private school and another COVID-19 vaccine lab. But, in the face of the pandemic, Biden has been forced to run an almost completely virtual campaign.

"(Biden's) physical presence is as important as his virtual presence," Jarrett said. "He will be quite visible on Zoom or Instagram Live or whatever. And I think as we get closer to the election, people are going to be paying a lot of attention."
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