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Biden Visits Kenosha, Wis., Meets Community Members And Jacob Blake's Family

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden went to Kenosha, Wis., today. Biden and his wife met with the family of Jacob Blake, the Black man whose shooting by police nearly two weeks ago sparked unrest there. It was two days ago that President Trump visited the area, celebrating law enforcement and highlighting the violence and property destruction that came in the wake of protests in Kenosha. Trump also downplayed issues of systemic racism, which was much of Biden's focus today.

NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid is travelling with Biden and joins us now from Milwaukee, where she is currently on a campaign bus. Hi, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hi there.

PFEIFFER: Asma, would you tell us more about what Joe Biden has been doing in Kenosha today?

KHALID: Yeah. You know, as you mentioned, Sacha, he met with members of Jacob Blake's family. He also was on the phone with Jacob Blake himself, who joined from a hospital bed. And we were told that they prayed together, and one of the attorneys said that they did discuss issues of, you know, police interactions with minority communities. It is worth noting, Sacha, that when Donald Trump was here a couple of days ago, he did not meet with any members of Blake's family. His message really primarily focused on law and order.

PFEIFFER: And President Trump has been aggressive about that law and order message. You know, he's been telling voters they would be unsafe if Biden is elected. How did Biden push back on that claim today?

KHALID: Yeah, that's right. That has been a real big focus of President Trump's recently. And, you know, Joe Biden mentioned a story about some of the president's remarks after the incident in Charlottesville, Va., a couple of years ago, where the president referred to very fine people on both sides. And this is how Joe Biden sees that rhetoric.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: It's not all his fault, but it legitimizes. It legitimizes a dark side of human nature.

KHALID: And, Sacha, you know, he referred to the fact that he felt like the president has enabled some of the behavior that has sprung up in communities like Kenosha afterwards. You know, it's worth pointing out that, as you mentioned, President Trump has really tried to suggest that Joe Biden is weak when it comes to issues of public safety. Biden, for his part, did reiterate today that he sees no place for rioting and looting and burning and none of that behavior is justifiable, but at the community meeting where we were, you know, we were told a couple of members of law enforcement were present. To my knowledge, they didn't hear any police officers speak. And you can imagine this is going to be a theme that President Trump tries to continue to hit Joe Biden on.

PFEIFFER: Asma, Wisconsin is obviously a crucial swing state in this year's election. It's where Hillary Clinton famously, maybe infamously, never went during the general election in 2016. Now, due to the coronavirus, Biden has mostly been staying close to his home in Delaware. So how much, if at all, can we interpret today's trip as a sign of urgency from the Biden campaign to get out more?

KHALID: Oh, Sacha, I think it very much suggests this level of urgency. Make no doubt this trip was taking place to deal with the racial tensions, specifically in Kenosha. But there was very much an underlying tone that this is a campaign trip. There was a point at the end of this community meeting where Joe Biden laid out the fear that some folks in underprivileged communities feel and his fear about, you know, not turning out to vote.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: People are going to be so frustrated, particularly in the communities that need the help the most, need to be treated most clearly. They're going to say, it's not worth it at all. I'm not going to vote. A guy was a very good friend of mine, talked to him two days before he died - John Lewis. As John said, the only answer is to vote.

KHALID: And, Sacha, there was this local stop later in the afternoon here in Wisconsin. And Joe Biden, as he was walking out of it, was greeted by a number of supporters. And he turned around to say don't forget to vote. You know, this is a common theme for Democrats. And the former vice president will be getting out more on the campaign trail. That's what he has said, and we have got word from his campaign that he intends to be in Michigan (unintelligible).

PFEIFFER: That's NPR's Asma Khalid traveling with the Biden campaign in Wisconsin. Asma, thank you.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.