Joe Biden said he’s coming to Kenosha today to have a conversation about helping the community heal, while the state GOP chair knocked him for waiting until after violent protests rocked the city to visit Wisconsin.
The stop will be Biden’s first in the state this year after he skipped coming to Milwaukee two weeks ago to accept the party’s nomination at the national convention. His campaign cited the COVID-19 pandemic for not coming to Milwaukee, and Biden told reporters in Delaware Wednesday he met with medical professionals about a series of protocols he will follow to make tomorrow’s trip safe.
Biden plans a community meeting before being joined by his wife Jill Biden for a local stop, according to his campaign. The vice president said he’ll meet with business and community leaders as well as law enforcement as he tries to be a “positive influence.”
“I’m not going to tell Kenosha what they have to do, but what we have to do together,” Biden said.
The trip comes on the heels of President Trump visiting Kenosha Tuesday to meet with law enforcement and denounce “anti-police and anti-American” protests.
State GOP Chair Andrew Hitt questioned why Biden was coming even as the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is largely unchanged compared to the week of the Dem convention.
“It shouldn’t take rioters burning down the City of Kenosha to get Joe Biden to visit our state,” Hitt said, calling it a “desperation trip” because Biden’s support is slipping.
Hitt also pointed to Tony Evers’ request that Trump skip his planned visit to Kenosha in asking if the guv would push Biden to stay away as well.
An Evers spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
Biden told reporters Wednesday he had spoken with Evers’ staff, but not the guv, adding he’s received encouragement from various quarters to visit the southeastern Wisconsin city.
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said earlier this week it was too soon for either Trump or Biden to visit, preferring they wait until next week.
Biden’s last public visit to Wisconsin was in October 2018 as he campaigned for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Evers. He has done a series of virtual events amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but Republicans have regularly knocked him for failing to visit Wisconsin after then-Dem nominee Hillary Clinton didn’t stop in the state after the 2016 primary as she lost to Trump here by fewer than 23,000 votes.
Dem U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, of Town of Vermont, and Ron Kind, of La Crosse, said they didn’t intend to meet the former vice president in southeast Wisconsin. A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore was not able to say if the Milwaukee Dem would be involved in the trip, while a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, was not immediately available for comment.
Biden also told reporters he believed the Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake, prompting the violent protests, should be charged “at a minimum.”
The vice president added he believed the same about the Louisville, Ky., officers who killed Breonna Taylor. He also called for investigations of violence in Portland, including a Trump supporter who was shooting people with paintballs, as well as someone who shot to death a backer of the president.
“Let the judicial system work. Let’s make sure justice is done,” Biden said.
See video of Biden’s remarks. The comments on Kenosha begin at the 10-minute mark: