Jill Biden thanked volunteers and told a group of elected female leaders at a small backyard rally that the 2020 election could be in the hands of Pennsylvania women, during a campaign swing Thursday in the Philadelphia suburbs.

“Women will decide the future of this state, and this state may determine the entire election,” Biden said at a stop in Swarthmore, in Delaware County.

Biden, 69, the former second lady and a 35-year educator, grew up in Willow Grove and attended Upper Moreland High School. At her first stop, outside U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean’s Jenkintown office in Montgomery County, Dean presented Biden with an Upper Moreland High School sweatshirt personalized with “Dr. B” on the back.

"You’re an amazing role model to a lot of women, and I hope you recognize that,” Dean told her. “And being a Philly girl, I think there really is something in our DNA. We believe in the founding of our nation ... life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Biden recounted for the small, socially distanced crowd how much she and her four sisters enjoyed growing up in Willow Grove. Then she helped distribute materials to people who were off to canvass for the campaign. “Thank you for welcoming me home," Biden said. "It feels good to be home. You know what else feels good? This election feels good.”

Joe Biden, who has roots in Scranton, has maintained a steady lead over Donald Trump in key swing states, including Pennsylvania.

Jill Biden’s visit came as ABC News and Biden’s campaign announced that the Democratic nominee would appear at a town-hall event in Philadelphia on Oct. 15, when the second presidential debate was supposed to take place. Trump withdrew from the debate Thursday, objecting to a decision by the commission that conducts the debates to hold it virtually because of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis.

During a second stop, at the home of Colleen Guiney, who heads the Delaware County Democrats, Jill Biden commended women in Pennsylvania for helping Democrats flip control of the House of Representatives in 2018. Pennsylvania sent four women to the U.S. House in 2018 as freshman members.

“Women know how to organize. We know how to fight for the people we love and we win elections," Biden told the crowd of about 20 elected female leaders, which included U.S. Reps Mary Gay Scanlon and Chrissy Houlahan.

Jill Biden during a campaign event Thursday in Swarthmore, Pa.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Jill Biden during a campaign event Thursday in Swarthmore, Pa.

Joe Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania is partly due to women, who polls suggest are backing him in greater numbers than they did Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump has tried to win over suburban women with appeals to “law and order" and racist warnings that Biden would “destroy” suburban communities with low-income housing. “If Dems win, GOODBYE SUBURBS!” he tweeted this week.

At the volunteer rally in Jenkintown on Thursday, Deborra Pancoe said she doesn’t see that kind of rhetoric resonating for suburban women in 2020.

“Honestly I don’t think anyone in these suburbs really buys that. I think people are appalled with his behavior and some of the words that are coming out of his mouth," Pancoe said. “So I don’t think it matters if you live in the suburbs or the city. The chaos, the distrust, the racism he espouses, it’s filtering down to a grassroots level and it’s affecting our whole society.”

Jill Biden, left, and U.S. Representative Madeleine Dean, far right, talk to voters during a campaign stop Thursday in Jenkintown, Pa.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Jill Biden, left, and U.S. Representative Madeleine Dean, far right, talk to voters during a campaign stop Thursday in Jenkintown, Pa.