Economy, border, abortion divide Biden’s hometown as Scranton looks back on native son’s first term

During a week in which President Biden remains optimistic about his chances for a second term, the people of Scranton, Pennsylvania — Biden’s own birthplace — shared their perspectives with Fox News Digital on his first term’s performance and the issues most important to them this year.

Resident Michael said the president has left many a mark on his hometown.

“Well, the road’s named after him. You can start there,” Michael pointed as he stood just off Biden Street — formerly Spruce — in the city’s downtown.

“You know what the crazy part about politics is? You can’t win either way,” he said, casting doubt on the qualifications of both major-party candidates.


The former Central Scranton Expressway — now the President Biden Expressway — diverges from I-81, which continues toward Binghamton, N.Y. (Charles Creitz)

“Now, what are we going to do? Vote-in a convict; a criminal — or person who doesn’t know anything.”

Resident Lauren, who declined to give her last name, said her top issue is women’s reproductive rights. Lauren said she is not pleased with how the chips fell on the abortion issue during Biden’s tenure.

Walking with a companion near Boscov’s department store on Lackawanna Avenue, local resident Thomas said he fully supports Biden, saying he has “done a lot for the economy.”

He cited food prices recently sliding somewhat, and praised the city’s decision to rename the Central Scranton Expressway connector to I-81 after its native son.

Steve later spoke to Fox News Digital outside the city bus terminal along the Lackawanna River.

He said he was on his way to the welfare office; a trip he never thought he’d have to make.


Gary spoke to Fox News Digital outside a Scranton market

Gary spoke to Fox News Digital outside a Scranton market (Charlie Creitz/Fox News Digital)

“[The economy] has tanked,” he said. “It’s so terrible right now. Everything — every decision [Biden] has made, it’s put us in a spot where we can’t even live,” he said, going on to reference where he was heading.

“That’s the first time in my life. It’s terrible. I can’t even explain it. If we continue like this, everybody’s going to be living in the woods.”

Another man, Brian, said Biden’s term has been a “disaster,” but stopped short of claiming former President Trump returning to office would be the answer.

“I think they’re both the same, to be honest with you.”

“[Biden’s] presidency has been a disaster. Our country only got worse. Everything’s been bad ever since. But it’s been that way for the last 20 years with everybody [who has been] in office. So I just don’t know what the answer is to that.”

Nonetheless, Brian said, he still remains undecided about his candidate choice.

Heather, who was on break from her job at a local restaurant, remarked, “Trump 2024,” when asked about Biden.

“Absolutely ridiculous — he doesn’t even complete sentences,” she said.


John from Scranton said he's supporting Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. this year.

John from Scranton said he’s supporting Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. this year. (Charlie Creitz/Fox News Digital)

Her friend, John, said he can’t give a prognosis of Biden’s first four years. “We go downhill, then we go uphill,” he said of the U.S. economy over the longer term.

At the Northern Light Espresso Bar on Biden Street, owner Jennifer Saunders told Fox News Digital business is going well as of late.

She said restaurant-related prices and costs are high, however, while adding she avoids passing the difference on to the consumer.

“I try not to as much as I can, but I have to stay in business… it’s a tough balance,” she said.

Saunders said she doesn’t necessarily ascribe such market forces to who is in power. Instead, she said the effects of COVID-19 caused the economy to tank over the long-term.

Biden Scranton

Joe Biden speaks to reporters outside his childhood home on N. Washington Ave. in Scranton in 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty)

As for elections, Saunders said 2020 felt like a choice of “the lesser of two evils,” and that the 2024 rematch appears the same.

Locally, however, Saunders said things are looking up, calling Scranton a “fantastic city” in which to live, work and visit.

Josie, a self-described “anarchist” who was leaving a Pride Month event in neighboring Wilkes-Barre, said neither candidate is in it “for the people,” but that Biden has a purported advantage in her mind:

“I think that they’re all completely removed from the struggles of regular people. However, at least his team doesn’t really seem to want me dead,” she claimed, referring to Trump as the latter.

“To be honest with you. I mean, as for everything with Israel, it’s absolutely appalling,” Josie added.


A sign popularized by NBC's "The Office" sits on display at the Mall at Steamtown, Scranton, Pa.

A sign popularized by NBC’s “The Office” sits on display at the Mall at Steamtown, Scranton, Pa. (Charles Creitz)

In Scranton’s downtown, a young man named John said he was eschewing both major party nominees in favor of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

John said Kennedy has both an impressive policy agenda and persona.

“I like his character. I like the way he speaks on a variety of issues and his plans to address them,” he said.

John said he believes Kennedy is gaining traction at the right time, and that he’s “rooting for him” to pull off an upset in November.

“A world leader, [Biden] is not,” added Joe, another Scrantonian. 

“The economy is not as good as he says it is,” Joe said as he walked near the government building named for another famous city native, former Democratic Gov. Robert Casey of Casey v. Planned Parenthood fame.


Lauren from Scranton offered her take on President Biden, saying women's reproductive rights are top of mind.

Lauren from Scranton offered her take on President Biden, saying women’s reproductive rights are top of mind. (Charles Creitz/Fox News)

Relatedly, Monday marked the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision reversing Roe v. Wade, and Scranton Democratic Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti headlined a Biden campaign-connected rally outside the courthouse.

After her remarks, Gebhardt Cognetti spoke to Fox News Digital about why she is supporting her fellow Scrantonian this fall.

With “Dobbs” front-of-mind, Gebhardt Cognetti said Trump will try to “erode the rights of women” if he has a second term in office. She praised Biden for supporting working-class cities like Scranton, which she said need to remain attractive for investment and raising families.

Jen, a registered nurse for the past 28 years, who spoke at Gebhardt Cognetti’s event, said health care has always been her top political issue.

“My general messaging is always just that ‘Donald Trump is hazardous to your health,'” she said.

“You look at the Affordable Care Act, you look at the protections that are in place for patients with preexisting conditions. Overall, there’s just no better choice when it comes to health care than Joe Biden.”

Fox News Digital’s Kyle Schmidbauer contributed to this report.


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