BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When President Joe Biden’s motorcade pulled up at Baltimore Center Stage Thursday night, both supporters and protesters were there to make some noise.

“We are here reminding the president that there are over eight million undocumented community members that are counting on him, that are waiting on him to ensure a pathway to citizenship,” said Lydia Walther-Rodriguez, CASA.

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Inside the theater,  Marylanders rattled off questions to the president on a wide range of topics like free college tuition. He admitted it may not happen right now.

“I promise you, I guarantee you, we are going to get free community college in the next several years,” said President Joe Biden.

When it comes to his trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, the president reminded the audience that the bill could evolve and become better over time.

“So I am prepared to do the things that can get done now. That can begin to change the lives of ordinary Americans to give them
a fighting chance,” said Biden.

Here in Baltimore, where city leaders are facing a challenge from workers’ unions who are pushing back against vaccine mandates, the president said he has tried everything possible. “I waited until July to talk about mandates because I tried everything else possible. The mandates are working.”

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This was the president’s first visit to the city since taking office. He met with city leaders who are also touting his agenda.

“It showcases that Baltimore is a city that’s coming back and the president is coming to highlight the ‘Build Back Better’ agenda and what better place to do that than the city that is going to be the best come back story of any city,” said Mayor Brandon Scott.

For some of the hundreds of people who got a seat inside the theater, this was their only chance to hear from the president in the same room.

“I think it was really great to have a lot of students and engage some younger democrats in the conversation,” said Sydney Brooke.

“I was very impressed, I think he knows, he has an objective and he knows what he wants,” Patrick Armstrong added.

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The president also took a question from a student about the shipping backlog that’s driving up prices. He said he’s willing to activate the National Guard to help alleviate some of those problems.

Ava-joye Burnett