BY: MOLLY NAGLE and BEATRICE PETERSON, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Former Vice President Joe Biden is making one of his most aggressive campaign trips in months, visiting with the family of Jacob Blake and meeting with community leaders in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Thursday.
The Bidens visited with Blake’s family Thursday afternoon for about an hour at Milwaukee General Mitchell Airport inside a private building off the tarmac before heading to the community meeting.
The Democratic nominee’s visit, according to his campaign, is an effort to “bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face,” after Blake, who is Black, was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer, and in the midst of protests across the country over racial inequality.
“There’s been overwhelming requests that I do come. Because what we want to do is we’ve got to heal. We’ve got to put things together. Bring people together. And so my purpose in going will be to do just that. To be a positive influence on what’s going on,” Biden told reporters Wednesday of the trip, one day after President Donald Trump’s own visit to Kenosha.
“We have to heal. This is about making sure that, that we move, that we move forward,” he added.
The dueling visits follow days of local protests and the killing of two protesters in late August after authorities say Kyle Rittenhouse, a pro-police 17-year-old, opened fire. Social media accounts associated with Rittenhouse’s name contain references to support for Trump.
Biden’s visit comes despite warnings from some local leaders to both the former vice president and Trump about the fragility of the city in the wake of Blake’s shooting, as tensions continue to run high over differing accounts from Kenosha Police and the Blake family about the incident.
In addition to Biden’s visit, the campaign released a new ad on Thursday, titled “We’re Listening,” in which Biden declares “now is the time for racial justice.” The ad, which will air digitally in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, is part of a $45 million investment in five seperate ads this week alone.
The trip marks the first time Biden will visit the critical swing state of Wisconsin in 674 days — after stumping for Sen. Tammy Baldwin there in October 2018 — and is the first time the former vice president has held an event outside of his home states of Pennsylvania and Delaware since the coronavirus pandemic brought the in-person campaign trail to a halt.
Biden’s trip will also be the first visit to Wisconsin by a Democratic presidential candidate in the general election since 2012 — when President Barack Obama visited the state the day before the election.
ABC News’ John Verhovek contributed to this report.
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