In the rural hills of Georgia, a state he is seeking to win, Joseph R. Biden Jr. called for “healing” and “restoration,” and a commitment to a common purpose to meet the challenges of the coronavirus.
By Jonathan Martin and Katie Glueck
WARM SPRINGS, Ga. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. reached for political history on Tuesday as he swept into a red-state town with deep Democratic resonance and made a direct pitch to voters who flocked to President Trump in 2016, urging them to give him a chance to “heal” the country after a year of crippling crises.
One week from Election Day, Mr. Biden chose to expend precious political time and capital on Georgia, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, but where both public and private polling indicate he can win if he assembles a coalition of staunch Democrats, Black voters, white suburban women and enough white voters in rural areas like Warm Springs to put him over the top.
Delivering a speech intended to be part of his closing argument to voters in the homestretch, Mr. Biden traveled to the onetime retreat of Franklin D. Roosevelt, making a let-us-come-together appeal that evoked the sort of common purpose that sustained the country during the Great Depression and World War II and that Mr. Biden said was needed to overcome the coronavirus.
With language that at times sounded more like that of a president-elect than a candidate, Mr. Biden attempted to portray himself as a man of destiny. “God and history have called us to this moment and to this mission,” he said, citing Ecclesiastes. “The Bible tells us there’s a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to heal. This is that time.”
While the Biden campaign is primarily focused on northern battleground states, where most polls show him ahead, Georgia carries tantalizing potential for the former vice president. This is the sort of Republican-leaning state that, if the president loses, would likely be the leading edge of a national rout.
Scorning Mr. Trump for his cavalier handling of the virus and lamenting the country’s economic hardships, racial inequities and toxic polarization, Mr. Biden said he would not accept that “the heart of this nation turned to stone.”
Mr. Biden’s address took place only a few miles from the “Little White House,” where Roosevelt stayed while undergoing polio treatment. The former vice president called the locale “a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed. That as a people and a country, we can overcome this devastating virus. That we can heal a suffering world. And yes, we can restore our soul and save our country.”
His trip to a region filled with Trump signs and flags illustrated both the extraordinary political moment, a Democrat appealing for unity in the Republican countryside, and the calculation of a candidate on the offensive.
Mr. Biden did not unveil any new proposals, and his rhetoric never soared. But he argued that he understood that the country faced massive challenges that he said Mr. Trump was not fit to solve.
Some Republicans agree. Mr. Biden has received the support of a number of prominent Republicans in recent months who share his view that the stakes of the election transcend traditional partisan battle lines; on Tuesday, 20 Republican former federal prosecutors endorsed the Democrat.
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