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Biden to visit Kenosha on Thursday in first campaign trip to Wisconsin

During the visit, Biden will visit with the family of Jacob Blake, his campaign said.
Joe Biden arrives to board an airplane at New Castle Airport in New Castle, Del., Aug. 31, 2020, as he travels to Pennsylvania for campaign events.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

Joe Biden will on Thursday visit Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he will meet with the family of Jacob Blake, his campaign said Wednesday.

Biden’s visit to the city where Blake, a Black man, was shot at least seven times in the back by a white police officer will come two days after President Donald Trump toured the city. It will also mark the Democratic nominee’s first trip in 2020 to Wisconsin — a state that Trump carried by under 23,000 votes in 2016.

As part of the visit, Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, will meet with Jacob Blake Sr. and other members of the Blake family, the campaign told NBC News.

In an earlier statement, Biden’s campaign said the candidate will “hold a community meeting” to “bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face.”

"We've got to heal," Biden said at an unrelated campaign event Wednesday. "My purpose in going will be to do just that."

The police shooting of Blake, which left him paralyzed, sparked a wave of anti-racism protests in the city which have been marked by sporadic violence, something critics of Trump's visit have accused the president of inciting.

Two people were fatally shot and another was injured during protests after Blake's shooting. Police have arrested Illinois resident Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, in connection with those shootings. NBC News has reported that Rittenhouse had posted online numerous photos of himself carrying long guns, along with several photos of the Blue Lives Matter flag.

During his own visit to the city Tuesday, Trump met with law enforcement officials and toured a building that burned during the protests. He did not mention systemic racism during his visit and he did not meet with the Blake family. Blake’s uncle told NBC News that the White House had not made any effort to talk with or meet with the Blake family despite White House statements to the contrary.

Biden, at an event Wednesday about safely reopening schools amid the pandemic, said he supported the idea that the officer who shot Blake should be be charged.

Asked by a reporter whether he agreed with the assessment offered by his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., that the officer should be charged, Biden replied, “I do think there’s a minimum need to be charged.” He also said he felt the officers who killed Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, should be charged.

He also said he’d received “overwhelming requests” from local officials to visit Kenosha — even though some, including Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser, a Democrat, had said both Biden and Trump should refrain from visiting until tensions in the city cool.

In recent days, Biden has accused Trump of "sowing chaos" and "stoking violence," and has himself strongly condemned the shooting of Blake — as well as the violence that erupted in the city afterward. He has praised the peaceful protests in the city and elsewhere.

Biden's visit represents a substantial and strategic change in his campaign travel schedule.

“I would like to get out more,” Biden said at the Wednesday event. “A president has the responsibility to set examples… the right examples on how to get out,” he added, before saying those included to “wear masks” and “not stand in large crowds.”

Until this week, Biden, citing the public health threats of the COVID-19 pandemic, had refrained from any campaign travel at all, having switched to a virtual campaign in mid-March.

But after weeks of criticism from Trump and other Republicans, and amid some grumblings from fellow Democrats that he hadn't traveled far from home during the campaign, Biden visited Pittsburgh on Monday — his first campaign trip in months outside the area near his Wilmington, Delaware, home.

Wisconsin is one of the most closely watched 2020 battleground states. Trump's win in the state in 2016 was the first time a Republican presidential nominee carried it since 1984.