The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, an Ohio Democrat, skipped out on President Joe Biden’s speech in Cleveland on Wednesday.
As part of his attempt to regain the support of rust belt voters, Biden spoke at a union training center in Cleveland, Ohio. He was greeted by several prominent Ohio Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Rep. Shontel Brown, and Cleveland mayor Justin Bibb, according to the White House. Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic Senate nominee who faces an uphill battle in November, did not attend.
But Rep. Joyce Beatty (D., Ohio) was also absent from the names provided, raising questions about Biden’s standing within the black community. Beatty, who has tried to push Biden to the left on issues related to immigration and student debt relief, was one of only two Democratic House members from Ohio who did not attend.
Recent polling finds black voters souring on Biden. A Washington Post survey conducted in May found that over one-third of black Americans say Biden is not keeping most of his campaign promises. Another survey from the Post conducted last month found that 7 in 10 black Americans approve of Biden’s performance, despite roughly 90 percent voting for him in 2020.
Those close to Biden's half-black vice president, Kamala Harris, have said much of her unpopularity can be attributed to racial discrimination from Biden and his aides. A CNN report last year featured a former aide to Harris decrying the "specific energy that the White House brings to defend a white man, knowing that Kamala Harris has spent almost a year taking lots of the hits that the West Wing didn't want to take themselves."
Despite her decision not to attend, Beatty had time to tweet out a statement just moments before Biden spoke expressing outrage over the death of Jayland Walker, who was killed by police officers in Akron, Ohio, last month.
"He should still be alive today. The body camera footage is gut-wrenching and leaves us with far more questions than answers," Beatty wrote. "The conduct of the officers and all involved must be investigated without delay."
During his remarks, Biden pledged a Department of Justice investigation into Walker’s death.
The Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday that Ryan did not attend because of a scheduling conflict.