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Jill Biden tells Virginia Beach supporters they’ll need to “work harder” before November

First Lady Jill Biden spoke to supporters in Virginia Beach before the first presidential debate.
Photo by Cianna Morales
First Lady Jill Biden spoke to supporters in Virginia Beach before the first presidential debate.

The First Lady stopped in Hampton Roads on her way to Georgia before the first presidential debate.

First Lady Jill Biden visited Virginia Beach on Thursday, the first stop for the Biden presidential campaign in Hampton Roads this election cycle.

The visit was hours ahead of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump’s first debate in Atlanta. The debate is sandwiched between campaign stops in Hampton Roads from both sides, with Trump due in Chesapeake on Friday.

“You all know that there’s two visions for America,” Jill Biden said Thursday, addressing a crowd of supporters at the Virginia Beach Democratic campaign office. “You’ll see them tonight when you watch the debate. And you’ve already chosen your vision or you wouldn’t be here.”

The First Lady said Joe Biden represents strong, steady leadership while Trump’s vision for the country is chaos and corruption.

Jill Biden also highlighted climate change, health care and bolstering the middle class as top priorities for the president. She said the next person elected to the executive office will likely be able to appoint two justices to the Supreme Court.

“In the end, it really comes down to who has the wisdom and who has the experience and who has the ability to really lead this country in the right direction,” she said.

The campaign needs to work harder before November to show people Joe Biden’s vision for America, she said. She also thanked veterans and teachers in the audience, and concluded her comments by telling the people packed into the sweltering room to be sure to hydrate.

First Lady Jill Biden talked about health care, the economy and more in Virginia Beach.
Photo by Cianna Morales
First Lady Jill Biden talked about health care, the economy and more in Virginia Beach.

Supporters and press crammed into the small office tucked into a strip mall off Virginia Beach Boulevard. The walls were plastered with printed and hand-drawn posters. Outside, Virginia Beach police and a Secret Service motorcade shut down the strip mall parking lot. Protesters in favor of Trump lined the sidewalk, waving signs at passing cars.

Maurice Hawkins, a Virginia Beach resident, attended the campaign event to support President Joe Biden ahead of the debate. He said Biden’s efforts to address unemployment, invest in infrastructure and strengthen the country’s standing in the world have “exceeded expectations” since he was elected.

“There’s no reason to turn over the keys to someone who put us in a ditch,” Hawkins said.

Visits from the Biden and Trump campaigns in Hampton Roads are part of a strategy targeting suburban Virginia voters who play a large part in determining election results.

Virginia hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004, and in 2020, Biden won the state by 10 percentage points, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

But suburban areas that voted for Biden in 2020, such as Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, voted for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin in 2021.

In 2023, Virginia Democrats took control of the General Assembly, winning swing districts in suburbs around Richmond and Hampton Roads to capture the majority.

Now, presidential campaigns are targeting those areas as places where voters could switch allegiance.

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