Since announcing his presidential bid for the White House on April 25, former Vice President Joe Biden has on a number of occasions invoked the violent white supremacist protests that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia two years ago in an apparent effort to rally voters against President Donald Trump. But he has not once visited the city since entering the presidential race.
The story: Last weekend, Biden took a campaign stop in Virginia ahead of the state’s Nov. 5 general election for the state Senate, yet while there, the former vice president did not pay Charlottesville a visit, despite mentioning the city and saying how it encouraged him to run against Trump.
“Charlottesville, Virginia” were also the first two words Biden uttered in his campaign launch video in April.
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The protests: Violence erupted in the city in August 2017 during a two-day Unite the Right rally prompted by the announced removal of the statue of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee.
During a fundraising event in August, Biden told supporters, “When those folks came out of the fields carrying those torches, chanting the anti-Semitic bile and their veins bulging, accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan, with such ugliness … I never thought I’d see something like that again in my life. That’s when I decided.”
However, other Democratic candidates like Sens. Kamala Harris (CA) and Amy Klobuchar (MN) who have mentioned the city as an example of worsening racial tensions under Trump have likewise failed to set foot in the city, according to NBC News.
Harris has argued that Charlottesville is proof that “racism is real in our country,” while Klobuchar has used the far-right protests to criticize Trump, who took heavy criticism for saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”
So far the only candidate to visit the city was former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who dropped out of the race last week
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Reactions: Charlottesville resident Quinton Harrell suggested that even if Biden decides to visit Charlottesville now, it would be too late. Harrell said Biden mentioning Charlottesville to discuss racial tensions “must be what he thinks connects with people. But until I see him, I don’t have a point of reference to say that’s authentic.”
Charlottesville business manager Ashley Bell said: “If you’re going to talk about it as much as he does, it would be nice for him to actually come and see the city. It’s a great place, and that’s how it should be represented.”
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he and Biden had spent “three to four hours” discussing the incidents in Charlottesville. “I’m not going to say I’m the one who got him to do it, but we spent a lot of time” discussing Charlottesville, McAuliffe said.
Michael Signer, the mayor of the city at the time of the protests, praised the former vice president’s response to the protests, telling NBC, “What I found so powerful and so refreshing about Biden’s comments was he was talking about exactly what happened and why it was so dangerous for the country. That to me was what was so powerful about his analysis and his call to action. It was about what Charlottesville represented.”
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