DEARBORN — Jill Biden, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, spoke at a voter mobilization event at the popular Shatila Bakery on Warren Avenue on Tuesday. The event was invite-only and not open to the general public due to COVID-19 concerns.
Dearborn was one of four stops Biden made in the state this week, as candidates ramp up their mobilizations efforts in key battleground states like Michigan. She also visited Detroit, Madison Heights and Saginaw.
Attendees at the Shatila Bakery event went through a health screening and were situated in a socially-distant seating arrangement. Dearborn has been hit especially hard by the virus, with more than 3,000 cases recorded as of the day of Biden’s appearance.
Biden praised the Arab American community and promised they will have a “seat at the table”, a popular slogan used by Democrats to court Arab voters. She said her husband would work, “to end this pandemic, to rebuild, to reimagine a future that’s better than ever.”
“And that means restoring our values as a nation of immigrants and defending the civil rights of all Americans, including the Arab American community that has contributed so much to our nation,” Biden said.
“This bakery embodies the American dream that so many immigrants have when they come to our country,” Biden said of Shatila. “With hard work and grit, the Shatila family has been a staple of Dearborn, one that not only creates jobs, but also brings joy to people around the world.”
Dearborn is often visited by presidential candidates. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders visited Qahwah House in Dearborn last year and discussed community issues with owner Ibrahim Alhasbani. Arab voters in Dearborn voted overwhelmingly for Sanders over Joe Biden during the primaries.
The event on Tuesday drew a sizable, socially-distant crowd. Some tried to enter from the sidewalk area and were refused by police and security, though those turned away said they had email invitations to the event.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) introduced Biden at the event.
“(Both John and I) have known Jill for decades,” she said. “She and Joe stood by (us) in some of the best moments in our lives, and some of the worst moments.
“They were rocks to me… I know who these people are, and they are the most loyal devoted friends that you could ever have.”
Also in attendance were U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Wayne County Commissioner Sam Baydoun, State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) and Dearborn City Council President Susan Dabaja. Zenna Elhasan, the Kresge Foundation’s lead attorney, also spoke at the event.