Dems Hold First Campaign Rally of 2024 at Mason
By: Erica Munisar, Fourth Estate Editor-in-Chief
This story was originally published on gmufourthestate.com. Fourth Estate is Mason’s official student-run newspaper.
On Tuesday, Jan. 23, President Joe Biden hosted his campaign rally, Restore Roe, in Manassas, Virginia at George Mason University’s Science and Technology campus. The rally was hosted by the Democratic National Committee, and was not a university event.
Attendants were heard chanting “Four more years,” from the chamber throughout the rally.
The event took place one day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 1973. Speakers featured sensitive stories of women who received abortions, followed by Biden and Harris campaign attacks towards Donald Trump and interruptions from at least 14 pro-Palestine protestors during Biden’s segment.
“Genocide Joe, how many kids…” one pro-Palestine protester shouted holding a Palestine flag before being abruptly cut off and removed from the rally, having their sentence muffled by the crowd’s responding chant of “Four more years.”
During Joe Biden’s 20-minute speech, 13 other protesters, one after another would stand up, shouting chants such as “Ceasefire now,” “Stop the genocide,” and “Free Palestine.” Some held painted protest signs in green, red and black before being removed from the event by security.
“This is gonna go on for a while. They got this planned.” Joe Biden said in a staggered speech, as the crowd continued to chant “Four more years.”
After the event, a large pro-Palestine protest could be seen outside the Hylton Performing Arts Center, joined by a strong police presence with officers lined up along the immediate street.
Joe Biden was joined by speakers Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden, Second Gentlemen Doug Emhoff and guest Amanda Zurawski during the rally.
“Yesterday marked the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.” Emhoff said, speaking first at the rally. “And I think about it, I have an 83 year old mother and we also have a 24 year old daughter. So how is it possible that my mother will have enjoyed more rights than our daughter?”
“That is simply unacceptable… and we’re going to hear some of these tragic, horrible stories tonight.” Emhoff said.
Jill Biden, speaking second in a bright yellow blazer, shared a story about a close friend who had experienced an abortion.
“Reproductive freedom affects us all,” Jill Biden said. “When I was in high school, one of my friends got pregnant. It was the late 60s and abortion was illegal in Pennsylvania… To end the pregnancy, she told me her only recourse was to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to declare her mentally unfit before the doctor would perform the procedure.”
“Secrecy, shame, silence, danger [and] even death, that’s what defined that time for so many women… and because of Dobbs, that’s where we’re finding ourselves back again.”
“The choice in this election is clear. Women put Joe and Kamala in the White House, and we will do it again.” Said Jill Biden.
Jill Biden was followed by Harris. “In states across our nation, extremists have proposed and passed laws that criminalize doctors and punish women. Laws that make no exception, even for rape and incest.” Harris said.
“This is in fact a health care crisis.” Harris said. “Today in America, one in three women live in a state with an abortion ban. Since Roe was overturned, I have actually met more than one [woman] who have had miscarriages in toilets because they were refused care. I have met women who were turned away because doctors were afraid they would be thrown in jail for providing care.”
“Extremists are trying to pass a national abortion ban… but what they need to know is that we will not allow it.”
Harris invited Amanda Zurawski from Austin, Texas, who shared her near-death experience in trying to receive access to a life-saving abortion following catastrophic pregnancy complications.
“The near-total abortion ban had gone into effect just after my water had broke.” Zurawski said.
“Ending the pregnancy would have been considered an illegal abortion, and my doctor would be at risk of loss of her license or even jail. I had to wait until I got so sick that my life was in danger, one of the rare exceptions where a doctor can intervene in Texas.”
“It took 3 days in a near crash into septic shock before my doctor could finally provide the health care I desperately needed… I crashed again with another bout of sepsis and was transferred to the ICU. My family flew in from across the country for fear that I wouldn’t pull through.” Zurawski said.
At the end of the rally, Biden made attacks towards Donald Trump, claiming his responsibility for abortion bans.
“My name’s Joe Biden. I’m Jill Biden’s husband and Kamala’s running mate.” Joe Biden said. “Jokes aside… Women are being turned away from emergency rooms, forced to travel hundreds of miles to get basic health care, [and] forced to go to court to plead.”
“It’s a direct affront to a woman’s dignity to be told by extreme politicians and judges to wait to get sicker and sicker before anything can happen, even to the point where as you heard your life had to be in danger… or the idea that a woman should have to carry a fetus after she’s been raped or the victim of incest. It’s outrageous.” Joe Biden said.
“And let there be no mistake, the person most responsible for taking away this freedom in America is Donald Trump. Trump says that he’s proud that he overturned Roe v. Wade. In the past year, Trump himself endorsed a federal [abortion] ban promising to lead the change.”
“Know this: If Congress is to pass a national abortion ban, I will veto it.” Joe Biden said.
The Biden and Harris campaign is expected to host more rallies leading up to Election Day in Nov. 2024.
Photos by: Erica Munisar/Fourth Estate