Colleen Hammond | News editor
On the eve of one of the most contentious elections in modern history, democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hosted his final campaign rally at Heinz Field.
To adhere to social distancing guidelines and COVID-19 prevention tactics, the outdoor, drive-thru rally featured dozens of cars packed with Biden supporters in masks and Biden-Harris shirts.
While Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-C), drew a substantial crowd, this final rally featured celebrity guest, Lady Gaga.
Gaga took the stage to give an impassioned speech voicing her deep belief in the Biden campaign.
“We need you, we need your family, we need your friends, we need your heart,” Gaga said. “Vote like your life depends on it, or vote like your children’s lives depends on it, because they do.”
Her words were met with swells of cheers and honking car horns, and she urged every Pennsylvanian to go out and vote if they had not already done so.
“We all know that this thing may come down to Pennsylvania,” Gaga said, a prediction that has since come true as the final ballots in swing states like Pennsylvania are being counted.
Gaga’s final appeal to voters was to call attention to the infamous Access Hollywood tapes in which Trump made lewd comments about grabbing women’s genitals.
“Everybody, no matter how you identify, now is your chance to vote against Donald Trump, a man who believes his fame gives him the right to grab one of your daughters, or sisters, or mothers or wives by any part of their bodies,” Gaga said as she ended her speech. “Vote for Joe. He’s a good person.”
Gaga also performed her hit songs “Shallow” and “You & I.” Her performance brought the crowd to their feet, with many climbing to the roofs or hoods of their vehicles to watch the pop star.
After her performance and speech, a number of other speeches were made by top Biden supporters and Harris, who reminded the crowd of the gravity of this election.
“This is the most consequential election of our lifetimes, and the decision we make will, without any question, last for generations.,” Harris said.
Surrounded by a parking lot full of Biden supporters, Biden took the stage to cheers and honking horns around 9:15 p.m.
After thanking the crowd for their presence, Biden proceeded to go through the laundry list of highly contested issues voters seem to be prioritizing this cycle. He made sure to address the growing concerns about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s future employment. At one of Trump’s final rallies, the crowd began chanting “fire Fauci” to which Trump responded “maybe after the election.”
In his speech, Biden confirmed that, if elected, he will keep Dr. Fauci at the forefront of the White House’s pandemic response. He also stated his dedication to “listening to scientists.”
“The power to change the country is in your hands,” Biden said as he stood behind a podium that read “battle for the soul of the nation.”
He restated the need for a new era of hope and unity, by telling Trump to “pack his flags and go home.”
“I’m going to heal this country,” Biden said.
Inside the parking lot, Biden was once again met with cheers and honking horns. But outside the parking lot told a different story.
A group of roughly 60 college-age voters, all bundled up from the cold and wearing masks, stood on the edge of the parking lot on North Shore Drive, watching the rally from the jumbotron behind Biden.
The crowd of students and young people faced multiple verbal altercations with two groups of a dozen Trump supporters who came to protest the rally on the opposite side of the street. Armed with Trump flags and bullhorns, the Trump supporters attempted to drown out parts of Biden’s speech by laying on their car horns, driving up and down the block, shouting, booing and chanting “four more years.”
The young Biden supporters engaged with this crowd and both sides of the street exchanged expletives, frequently shouting at each other about highly contested issues including Trump’s handling of the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, conflict with Iran and protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
In an unexpected turn of events, the young Biden supporters unfurled their flag and began aggressively singing Cardi B’s “WAP” at the group of Trump supporters.
“It was peaceful over there. I felt safe over there,” said Audrie Prudnick, a Biden supporter in the crowd of college students.
Prudnick was at the rally with her close friend Indih Bleher, who shared Prudnick’s admiration for Biden and desire for peace and safety as the rally concluded.
“Everybody’s been very calm,” Belher said.
Both Behler and Prudnick noted the heavy police and security presence at the event, and hoped that they would be protected, should the verbal altercations with Trump supporters turn violent.
While there have been no large reports of violent outbreaks in Pittsburgh as votes continue to be processed, a sense of national uncertainty is apparent.