Biden stumps for education in Rocky Mount

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 4:31 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2023 at 1:45 PM EDT
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ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WITN) - President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, are in Eastern Carolina for visits to Rocky Mount and Fayetteville.

Air Force One landed shortly before noon at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and then continued on to Rocky Mount where they arrived at Nash Community College around 1 pm.

The Bidens, accompanied by Governor Roy Cooper, Congressman Don Davis, and Mayor Sandy Roberson met with students while touring the continuing education facility at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount after lunch. Students demonstrated some of the robotics lab equipment to the group. Nash Community College received $23.7 million to train students for clean energy jobs from Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The Biden administration has put an emphasis on funding programs that help prepare workers for jobs that require some post-secondary education but not necessarily a four-year degree.

Dr. Jill Biden told students that success is no longer measured only by having a four-year degree, telling them that she herself teaches at a Community College near Washington DC.

“This is the future of our workforce,” said Dr. Biden. “We want all of our students to be successful, even if a four-year degree isn’t the path for them”

America Gomez, a student in the Center for Technology at NCC introduced the president.

The president told those in attendance that community colleges are the best-kept secret in America and that any country that out-educates us can defeat us.

The president touted community colleges as a way to bring factories and skilled labor jobs back to the United States saying, “It’s coming back and it’s coming back big.”

“We’ve added 800,000 manufacturing jobs...we need people with advanced manufacturing skills...that’s what you kids are learning here at this college - manufacturing is back,” Biden said.

“A manufacturing boon is happening all across America, not just in North Carolina,” Biden said. “We are gonna build this economy from the middle out, that’s how everyone succeeds.”

Nash Community’s Career in a Year program showcases careers that can be obtained with one year or less in training, some with as little as one month.

Before parting at about 1:45 pm, Biden told Governor Cooper, “Gov - you’re doin’ a great job, I think you’re the best governor in the country.”

After their visit to Rocky Mount, the Bidens are expected to travel to the recently renamed Fort Liberty in Fayetteville.

Biden’s visit comes a week after military officials at the base, formerly known as Fort Bragg, held a ceremony at which it officially shed its Confederate name. Officials didn’t play a role in selecting the base to serve as a backdrop for Biden to announce his executive order, according to an administration official who was not authorized to comment and spoke on the condition of anonymity. It was unclear if Biden would address the base renaming during his visit

The base was originally named in 1918 for Gen. Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general from Warrenton, North Carolina, who was known for owning slaves and losing key Civil War battles that contributed to the Confederacy’s downfall.

Biden will use the visit to Fort Liberty — the largest U.S. Army base by population, with roughly 47,000 active-duty soldiers — to highlight an executive order he is signing on Friday that aims to improve job opportunities for military and veteran spouses whose careers are often disrupted by their loved ones’ deployments.

The order directs agencies to develop a federal government-wide strategic plan on hiring and job retention for military spouses; bolsters childcare options; improves the collection of data on military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors in the federal workforce; and more than a dozen additional actions.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, in a call with reporters to preview the action, said the order was largely framed by conversations through the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, which looks to support families, caregivers, and survivors of members of the U.S. military. The Democratic president is expected to sign the order during his visit to the base.

“We’re asking agencies to make it easier for spouses employed by the federal government to take administrative leave, telework, and move offices,” the first lady said. “We’re creating resources to support entrepreneurs. And the executive order helps agencies and companies retain military spouses through telework or when they move abroad.”

Biden’s trip to Eastern North Carolina comes as some of the Republican Party’s top presidential contenders plan to gather to address delegates at the state convention in Greensboro, less than 100 miles west of his stop at Fort Liberty.

On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is headlining a dinner, fresh off his campaign tour to a trio of early-voting states, where thousands gathered to hear him castigate Biden and pledge to reverse the Democratic incumbent’s “disastrous economic policies” if elected.

On Saturday, former Vice President Mike Pence and former President Donald Trump, the current GOP front-runner, will speak to delegates in separate appearances.

Earlier Saturday, Trump, who has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate, is to address the Georgia Republican Party’s convention in Columbus, Georgia.