Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden makes his first campaign trip to the key swing state of Wisconsin on Thursday, where he will meet with Jacob Blake’s family in Kenosha and try to draw a contrast with President Donald Trump by portraying himself as a healer, not a divider.
Biden, with wife Jill, arrive after Trump’s Tuesday visit, where he toured some of the worse destruction and declared, “Kenosha has been ravaged by anti-police and anti-American riots.”
This Wisconsin stop, to include a community meeting, will also be the second time Biden will be taking himself out of his carefully controlled COVID-19 bubble and moves up the timetable of when his campaign said he would be resuming campaign travel. The original plan was to have Biden hit the swing state road after Labor Day.
Biden’s meeting with the Blake family, who have roots in Chicago and Evanston, is expected to dramatize his call to bring together all parties involved in policing issues, offering voters a stark difference to Trump’s scorched rhetoric while still advocating for police and “law and order.”
The difference between Trump and Biden is this: Trump is for law and order and rejects suggestions that systemic racism has a connection to multiple examples of police misconduct where Blacks are victims.
Biden said he wants to bring to the “table” police and people fighting for racial justice.
Speaking to reporters in Delaware on Wednesday, Biden said, “I’m not going to tell Kenosha what they have to do, but we have to do together.
“… I spent my whole life, including in this city you’re in right now, bringing people together. Bringing the community and police officers together. Bringing business leaders and civic leaders together. And so that’s my purpose in going.”
While Wisconsin’s governor and Kenosha mayor – both Democrats – said they did not want Trump to visit, Biden said he was responding to an “overwhelming” request” from Wisconsin leaders – who he did not name - that he come.
Biden condemned – again – rioters who “engage in violence, burning, looting, the rest, in the name of protest”
Kenosha has been struggling with violence in the wake of the shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, at least seven times in the back by a white Kenosha police officer, leaving him paralyzed and, according to his attorney, Ben Crump, with many internal organs badly damaged.
The situation was further inflamed when an Antioch teen, Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was charged with shooting to death two men and wounding a third with a long gun he was carrying during protests on a Kenosha street. Trump has refused to condemn Rittenhouse – whose defense has become a cause among some on the right.
BLAKE FAMILY OUTREACH
Trump pulled back from feelers to talk to the Blake family because, the president said, he did not want to be on a call with members of the Blake family legal team. Several members of Blake’s family have been harshly critical of Trump and have rebuffed the White House outreach.
Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, already held a lengthy conversation with Blake’s parents.
Trump is throwing a spotlight on two of Blake’s mother’s ministers, James and Sharon Ward, whose church has a Skokie address.
The two accepted an invitation to be part of Trump’s roundtable in Kenosha on Thursday, a gathering where Jacob Blake’s name was never mentioned by any of the participants, including James and Sharon Ward.
Trump asked Pastor James Ward to offer an opening prayer, offering effusive praise. “I’d love to have that because you are so highly thought of in the area.”
After the prayer, Pastor Sharon Ward said, “I think we need to mobilize people of prayer to pray for this country.
“And also, I think it’s important to have Black people at the table to help, you know, solve the problem. And also, I think James and I, our prayer is that we’re able to work to really bring about a change.
“I think there’s a lot of great change that’s been mentioned here of how law enforcement has quickly solved the problem of the crime in the street, but I think there’s — I think this is a good opportunity for us to really solve the problem in the nation. And I think James and I could help with that,” she said.
Blake’s family said the Ward couple do not represent them.