President Joe Biden on Tuesday lambasted members of the Republican Party for encouraging political violence — including apparently South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
“No one expects politics to be patty cake. Hey, sometimes it gets mean as hell. But the idea you turn on a television and see senior senators and congressmen saying, ‘If such and such happens, there’ll be blood in the street.’ Where the hell are we?” Biden said.
The president was speaking at the Marts Center at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., not far from his birthplace of Scranton, where he detailed his $37 billion “Safer America Plan,” aimed at addressing community safety and crime prevention.
Toward the end of his campaign-style, fiery speech, Biden bristled as he talked about members of the Republican Party encouraging political violence. His reference to senior senators on television appeared to be a swipe at Graham, who over the weekend twice said there would be “riots in the street” if the Justice Department prosecutes former President Donald Trump for his handling of classified government documents after leaving the White House.
The president’s visit to Pennsylvania on Tuesday is his first of three over the next week to the midterm battleground state that will play a key role in determining control of Congress and the White House in 2024. He’ll speak on Thursday in Philadelphia about democracy and will return to the state for Pittsburgh’s annual Labor Day celebration on Monday.
Biden, who spent much of his speech talking about the need to fund police and take further steps to address gun violence — such as banning assault weapons — pivoted to the need to uphold the rule of law.
“A safer America requires all of us to uphold the rule of law. Not the rule of any one party or any one person,” the president said, telling the crowd that some members of the Republican Party have said political violence is necessary. “[Political violence] is never appropriate. Period. Never. Never. Never.”
The president then turned to the attack on the Capitol. Bringing his speech full circle, he talked about the police officers who lost their lives in connection with the Jan. 6 riot.
“Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friend in Congress. Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t condemn what happened on [Jan. 6]. Don’t tell me. Can’t do it. For God’s sake, whose side are you on? Whose side are you on?” Biden said, raising his voice. “Look, you’re either on the side of the mob or the side of the police. You can’t be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurrection. You can’t be a party of law and order and call the people who attack the police on Jan. 6 patriots.”
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