Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gets his turn Thursday.
Two days after a visit by President Trump, the former vice president heads Kenosha, Wis., a city pushed into the national spotlight after the police shooting of a Black man sparked days of protest and violence – making the city the latest battleground in a summer of unrest over police brutality against minorities and racial injustice.
And Biden’s trip to the crucial general election battleground state comes as the two presidential nominees repeatedly trade fire in dueling appearances and speeches over the unrest – which has rocked cities from coast to coast since the death of George Floyd, who was Black, in police custody in Minnesota in late May.
Taking questions from reporters on Wednesday at a campaign event in his home state of Delaware, Biden said his Kenosha visit is “to bring people together” and “ease racial tensions.”
Biden explained that he would hold “meetings with community leaders as well as business people and folks in law enforcement and to start to talk about what has to be done.” He’s expected to make an additional “local stop.”
And the Biden campaign confirmed that the former vice president would be meeting with the family of Jacob Blake. Video seen on social media shows an officer shooting seven times into Blake’s back as he reached into his vehicle, where Wisconsin officials later said a knife was found.
Blake’s young children were in his vehicle at the time. The shooting left Blake paralyzed, according to his father. The Aug. 23 incident sparked days of protests and violence.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said on “Fox and Friends” Thursday that “the president was there earlier in the week as president of the United States. Vice President Biden is there today as a candidate — as a political candidate.”
And he cautioned that “this is not the time to be injecting politics into a really serious situation that the president helped solve.”
And White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday that Biden’s trip “was too little, too late.”
The president toured damaged businesses and met with law enforcement during his Tuesday visit to Kenosha, but didn’t meet with Blake’s family. Trump claimed on Monday that he wouldn’t meet with them because they wanted lawyers involved.
The president praised law enforcement and condemned the protests. He labeled the outbreak of violence in the city “domestic terrorism” and evaded answering a question posed to him about systemic racism. Trump blamed Democratic officials in Wisconsin for the violence and once again claimed that unrest would spread throughout the country if Biden’s elected president.
The president has increasingly emphasized his law and order theme in recent weeks. And last week Biden and his party were called out last week by Trump and Republicans at the GOP convention for not mentioning the riots or the looting during the Democratic National Convention the previous week.
Ahead of his trip, Biden once again argued that Trump’s inciting the violence, charging that “this president keeps throwing gasoline on the fire every place he goes.”
Biden also emphasized that “police officers are good, decent, honorable, women and men.”
Pointing to the violence amid the national demonstrations, Biden stressed once again that “protesting is a right and free speech is a right, but to engage in violence, burning, looting, and the rest, in the name of protesting is wrong.”
But the Trump re-election campaign, following the former vice president’s comments on Wednesday, spotlighted that Biden didn’t “condemn Antifa or call the rioters in our cities what they are: left-wing criminals aligned with the most extreme elements of the Democrat Party.”
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian – who is also a Democrat – urged the president not to come to the city ahead of his visit.
Both Antaramian – in a CNN interview – and the local head of the NAACP have said that no politicians should visit Kenosha right now due to high tensions. Evers appears to be staying quiet regarding Biden’s visit.
Biden on Wednesday spotlighted that “there’s been overwhelming requests that I do come.” And he touted that “I spent my whole life bringing people together” and said that if he were president, “I’d be bringing people together in the White House right now” to try and ease racial tensions.
Republican Party of Wisconsin Chair Andrew Hitt said that “it shouldn’t take rioters burning down the City of Kenosha to get Joe Biden to visit our state.”
“Last week, Tony Evers urged the President of the United States not to visit Wisconsin because it would ‘hinder healing,’” Hitt added. “Will Governor Evers also urge Joe Biden to stay away?”
This will be Biden’s first visit to Wisconsin as his party’s standard-bearer. The Democratic National Convention was supposed to have been held in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city. But due to health concerns over holding large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic, the convention was converted into nearly an entirely virtual affair.
The president’s stop in Kenosha this week was his third to the state this summer. Democrats carried Wisconsin in presidential elections for a quarter century. But Trump narrowly edged 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the state four years ago, helping him win the electoral college vote to capture the White House.
A new Fox News poll of likely voters in Wisconsin that was released Wednesday indicates Biden topping Trump 50%-42%. The survey – conducted Aug. 29-Sept.1, which was entirely after the GOP convention – also indicates that Wisconsin voters by a 5-point margin trust Biden over Trump to handle policing and criminal justice.
The Biden and Trump campaigns currently have dueling TV ads airing in Wisconsin that spotlight the unrest and racial injustice.
Fox News’ Kelly Chernenkoff contributed to this report.