10:15 PM - July 9, 2020
10:15 PM - July 9, 2020

Recap: Campaigning in Pennsylvania, Mike Pence and Joe Biden clash over how to fix America; Pence speech at FOP lodge draws hundreds of police supporters and dozens of protesters

Chanting “blue lives matter” and “U-S-A,” and at times hurling racist insults at a smaller group of Black Lives Matter protesters, hundreds of police supporters gathered Thursday outside a union hall where Vice President Mike Pence told officers that he and President Donald Trump “have your back.”

Tensions were palpable outside the nondescript FOP Lodge 5 headquarters, and at times the exchanges were as heated as the sultry summer evening. But no physical clashes were evident as a phalanx of on-duty police kept watch, and no arrests were reported.

Pence and former Vice President Joe Biden made simultaneous visits to Pennsylvania, each trying to show who can best handle the crises wracking the country and defining the 2020 election.

They clashed over who could revive the economy, Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and the searing debates over racism and policing playing out in streets across the country.

See more of our coverage from the day:

8:41 PM - July 9, 2020
8:41 PM - July 9, 2020

Photos: Vice President Mike Pence’s day in Pa. and Philly

8:10 PM - July 9, 2020
8:10 PM - July 9, 2020

Pence departs from Philly

Vice President Mike Pence gives a thumbs-up before departing on Air Force Two from Philadelphia International Airport after a series of stops in Pennsylvania on Thursday, July 9, 2020.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Vice President Mike Pence gives a thumbs-up before departing on Air Force Two from Philadelphia International Airport after a series of stops in Pennsylvania on Thursday, July 9, 2020.

— Tim Tai

8:00 PM - July 9, 2020
8:00 PM - July 9, 2020

Group claiming to be Proud Boys show up outside Pence event

Demonstrators identifying themselves as "Proud Boys" yell back at Pence protesters during a visit of the Vice President to the FOP in Northeast Philadelphia, Thursday, July 9, 2020
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Demonstrators identifying themselves as "Proud Boys" yell back at Pence protesters during a visit of the Vice President to the FOP in Northeast Philadelphia, Thursday, July 9, 2020

About 10 men who identified themselves as the Proud Boys, a far-right, self-described “western chauvinist” group, arrived outside the FOP event as Vice President Mike Pence’s speech came to a close.

The men stood in the street and shouted at protesters. They wore black and yellow Polo shirts, hats that said “Proud Boys,” and waved the group’s banner in the air.

A few Black men in support of Black Lives Matter argued with them as the members shouted “all lives matter” and they yelled at female protesters across the street.

Then, as the group was arguing, the mass of motorcyclists rode through the streets again, led by a Dodge Charger with sirens and flashing lights, which imitated a police vehicle but was not marked as one. The streets vibrated from the rumble of the bikes.

Once the motorcycle group passed, police opened up the barricade and allowed the pro-police ralliers to walk through and join the police rally at the lodge.

One of the men declared said “Proud Boys, we out!” Then the group could be seen walking through the barrier to join the gathering, which was advertised as serving beer and snacks.

Earlier, as Pence wrapped up inside the building, protesters and police supporters exchanged heated words from across metal barricades and lines of bike cops on either side of the FOP Lodge driveway.

As the police supporters recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang “God Bless America,” protesters took a knee, fists raised.

”God bless Black America?” protester Melissa Robbins shouted back at the group. “When they take off the blue shirt, do you care about the Black officers then?”

— Ellie Rushing and Oona Goodin-Smith

6:56 PM - July 9, 2020
6:56 PM - July 9, 2020

Pence tells police Trump administration ‘will always have your back'

Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby (left) holds up a "Back the Blue" shirt with Vice President Mike Pence at a rally supporting police at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 in Northeast Philadelphia on Thursday, July 9, 2020.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby (left) holds up a "Back the Blue" shirt with Vice President Mike Pence at a rally supporting police at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 in Northeast Philadelphia on Thursday, July 9, 2020.

Vice President Mike Pence gave a rousing pump-up speech to Philadelphia cops, recognizing officers killed or injured in the line of duty and denouncing calls to defund police departments across the country.

“I just had to come by today to make sure you knew your president, your vice president and our administration...know that you’re the best of us,” Pence said to an audience of 300 at an indoor rally at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 in Northeast Philadelphia. ”We know that you literally put your lives on the line every day because you love this community - you love all families of this community.”

Pence said the “radical left” was offering a false choice between “funding our police and funding our communities.”

Toward the end of his 20-minute address Pence recognized the six officers, by name, who were shot in the Tioga standoff last summer. He’d met with them and their families before the rally.

“God’s grace and their guts got them through,” he said.

Pence took a shot at Biden claiming, falsely that the former vice president would defund police if given the chance. He said while George Floyd’s killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer was inexcusable, it did not warrant the response by demonstrators who he described as violent.

”Burning churches is not protest, tearing down statues is not free speech,” Pence said. “We’re going to continue to stand with freedom of speech...but we will join with you to stand against the looters and rioters and anarchists who would pull down our statues and try and destroy our communities.”

— Julia Terruso

6:50 PM - July 9, 2020
6:50 PM - July 9, 2020

Some pro-police demonstrators threaten Pence protesters

Prior to Pence’s speech, a small crowd of pro-police Trump supporters quickly grew to a couple hundred in size. They chanted “blue lives matter” and “USA!” but also hurled vile and racist insults at a smaller Black Lives Matter protesters across the street.

”Your life doesn’t matter, you f—- a—holes,” said a man from the pro-Trump group who identified himself only as “Jimmy.”

”I’m going to follow you out of here and f— you up!” another yelled.

”I really believe there is another Civil War coming. The two side are just farther apart,” said Ray Wisniewski, of Port Richmond, who was wearing a shirt that read: “Yo, Kenney, you’re a real crumb bum. Make Philly great again.”

Wisniewski, who said he has friends who are Philly police officers, supports the Trump administration because he believes it will take a hardline approach to civil unrest and efforts to defund police departments.

”Trump ran on being a law and order president,” Wisniewski said. “I don’t want this country to turn into Venezuela. That’s about what will happen if Biden gets in”

— William Bender

6:31 PM - July 9, 2020
6:31 PM - July 9, 2020

Inspector Joe Bologna among attendees at Pence event

Philadelphia Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna Jr. waits for Vice President Mike Pence to speak at a rally supporting police at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 in Northeast Philadelphia on Thursday, July 9, 2020.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna Jr. waits for Vice President Mike Pence to speak at a rally supporting police at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 in Northeast Philadelphia on Thursday, July 9, 2020.

Philadelphia Police Inspector Joseph Bologna, who was suspended from the force last month after charges were filed against him for assaulting a protester during demonstrations, was among the attendees for Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the FOP in Northeast Philadelphia.

Many people in the audience wore “Bologna Strong” T-Shirts.

Bologna declined to comment on his suspension or the charge against him.

— Julia Terruso

6:22 PM - July 9, 2020
6:22 PM - July 9, 2020

Several hundred pro-police supporters arrive on motorcycles for Pence event

Several hundred pro-police supporters arrived on motorcycles outside the FOP headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia where Vice President Mike Pence was expected to give a speech soon.

— Oona Goodin-Smith and Ellie Rushing

6:06 PM - July 9, 2020
6:06 PM - July 9, 2020

Protests, counter-protests small but heated outside Pence event at FOP

Small groups of of protesters supporting Black Lives Matters exchanged heated words with counter-protesters supporting the police and President Donald Trump outside the FOP event in Northeast Philadelphia where Vice President Mike Pence was set to give a speech this evening.

While some of the verbal declarations got ugly, there were no reports of physical clashes or arrests. Around 30 people showed up to protest Pence while at least double that number gathered on the pro-police side.

Oona Goodin-Smith, William Bender, Lauren Schneiderman, Ellie Rushing

5:27 PM - July 9, 2020
5:27 PM - July 9, 2020

Pence arrives at FOP event in Northeast Philly

Vice President Mike Pence’s motorcade has arrived at the FOP headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia. He will be making a speech there later.

Meanwhile, small groups of vocal supporters and protesters assembled nearby. There was no reports of problems.

— Oona Goodin-Smith, Lauren Schneiderman, Ellie Rushing

5:12 PM - July 9, 2020
5:12 PM - July 9, 2020

Joe Biden in Pa. visit promises to build the ‘economy of the future’ as he attacks Trump

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at McGregor Industries in Dunmore, Pa., Thursday, July 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum / AP
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at McGregor Industries in Dunmore, Pa., Thursday, July 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Speaking to a group of ironworkers just outside his hometown of Scranton Thursday, Joe Biden promised to be a true champion of the working class as he laid out a plan to reverse the country’s devastating economic decline.

“This is our moment to imagine and to build a new American economy for our families and for our communities. An economy where every American, every American has a chance to get a fair return for the work they put in,” Biden said, describing a $700 billion recovery plan aimed at the middle class and accusing President Donald Trump of favoring the wealthy, despite promises to help everyday workers.

“Everyone will be cut in on the deal this time as we rebuild the middle class, ,” said Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

— Jonathan Tamari

4:55 PM - July 9, 2020
4:55 PM - July 9, 2020

Philly FOP president: ‘There is no support for police'

Philadelphia police officers and supporters of President Trump queue for ice cream at a Mister Softee truck on Comley Road in Northeast Philadelphia July 9, 2020 before the arrival of Vice President Mike Pence who is to appear at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 for a "Back the Blue" rally.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia police officers and supporters of President Trump queue for ice cream at a Mister Softee truck on Comley Road in Northeast Philadelphia July 9, 2020 before the arrival of Vice President Mike Pence who is to appear at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 for a "Back the Blue" rally.

John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, lamented what he said was a lack of support for police during opening remarks before the arrival of Vice President Mike Pence at the police union’s headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia.

”Right now folks, there is no support for police. Zero politicians in the city of Philadelphia, City Council, nobody’s out there giving our guys and girls that are on the street for the last two months…any help whatsoever,” McNesby told the crowd.

“I know today it’s not popular to back the officers on the street. What we need is a little bit of push and we’ll get the job done,” he said.

The national FOP president Patrick Yoes flew in for the event and told the crowd, “just take a look at the evening news and you’ll see what a society without police looks like because it’s happening all around the country. Our members go to work everyday and they’re protecting people protesting their existence.”

Yoes said police have become “political footballs” and that “this social experiment is going to cost people’s lives. It’s doing irreparable harm to law enforcement.”

The national Fraternal Order of Police in 2016 endorsed President Donald Trump. The organization has not yet endorsed this cycle.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain also rallied the officers and their families ahead of Pence’s arrival, noting the 23 shootings and six homicides in the city this past week.

”I know you’re feeling unappreciated right now. I know you feel like you’re under attack,” he said. “But your city need you now more than ever.”

Sen. Pat Toomey said talk of defunding police is misguided.

”A dark cloud of irrational sentiment has descended over much of the country and Philadelphia,” Toomey said. “There is a loud, angry, I think small but very vocal segment of our society, amplified by the mainstream media, propagating a false narrative.”

”The idea that that act committed by one individual should then be blamed on all men and women in blue across this country, that’s insane,” Toomey said.

About 50 Trump supporters and others backing the Philadelphia Police Department awaited the vice president outside FOP headquarters.

They wore shirts calling for the impeachment of District Attorney Larry Krasner, the execution of Mumia Abu Jamal, and supporting Inspector Joseph Bologna, who was recently indicted by Krasner for allegedly assaulting a protester.

”I think we all want racial justice right now. We need to stop looking at people’s color and look at their character,” said Gloria Valentino, who was holding a Trump-Pence sign with two American flags.

She said her late brother, a Philadelphia police officer, was killed in the line of duty in 1989.

”I support the police and law and order,” Valentino said. “Ninety-nine percent are good family people. They’re not robots. They’re fathers and mothers.”

— Julia Terruso and William Bender

4:34 PM - July 9, 2020
4:34 PM - July 9, 2020

Small protest prepares for Pence speech at FOP

Around 20 people have gathered at the Red Lion Shopping Center in Northeast Philadelphia in protest of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the FOP Lodge later this evening.

”The only way that any struggle for justice is going to be won is removal of this regime,” said Sam Goldman of Refuse Fascism Philly.

— Oona Goodin-Smith and Ellie Rushing

4:15 PM - July 9, 2020
4:15 PM - July 9, 2020

Cops gather at FOP in Northeast Philly for Pence speech

The ballroom at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge is nearly filled with close to 200 people, very few wearing masks, awaiting Vice President Mike Pence’s speech here.

There is also a monitor set up in the lobby for over-flow viewing. Det. Chris Casee, a 29-year veteran of the department said the event was invite-only for union members and their families. Casee said the last month of protests city-wide and recent decision to shift some funding away from police has left him feeling abandoned “by the people at the top” in the city.

Pence’s visit brings a reprieve, he said. ”We have a president and a vice president that are proactive in policing, understand what we go through and they’re willing to back us up no matter what others’ opinions are. President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence aren’t afraid to back us up which is what we need at this time.”

Casee who wore an “adorable deplorable T-shirt” said he’s been working citywide protests over the police killing of George Floyd and “there’s nothing you don’t hear. When they burn a police car, that’s pretty clear how they feel about us.”

Erin Hellyer waited for Pence’s speech a few rows from the stage. Her brother-in-law is in the department and she’s from a family of police.

”The last few weeks for my family personally, because my brother-in-law was in the front lines, was very stressful. We were scared for him and all police,” Hellyer said.

”The disrespect for law enforcement today is scary,” she said. “There’s Black cops, there’s Asian cops, there’s white cops, no matter your race, your religion, people of all backgrounds become police officers for a reason and to me that’s what American stands for.”

Hellyer, who wore a skirt of blue stars and no mask, is a nurse at Pennsylvania Hospital. She said she felt safe in the ballroom where chairs were less than six feet apart and very few people wore masks.

”I think that we should never have shut down our country,” she said.

— Julia Terruso

4:00 PM - July 9, 2020
4:00 PM - July 9, 2020

At economic roundtable, Pence praises Trump on coronavirus fight

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a roundtable discussion on reopening the economy at Rajant Corporation, which makes wireless communication systems, in Malvern, Pa., on Thursday, July 9, 2020.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a roundtable discussion on reopening the economy at Rajant Corporation, which makes wireless communication systems, in Malvern, Pa., on Thursday, July 9, 2020.

Speaking at a Malvern wireless technology firm, Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday made the case that the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus was helping to limit the economic damage wrought by the pandemic.

“Even in the midst of outbreaks that we’re seeing in Sun Belt states, we are opening up America again,” Pence said at the Rajant Corporation. “In a word, we’re going to make America great again — again.”

President Donald Trump “really wanted me to be here today to hear firsthand about the progress that Pennsylvania is making” in controlling the virus, Pence said.

Pence, whose microphone stopped working a few minutes after he started speaking, took swipes at former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee on Thursday also campaigned in Pennsylvania, one of the most important swing states in the Nov. 3 election.

Pence highlighted declines in manufacturing sector jobs under Barack Obama’s administration and criticized Biden for proposing tax increases.

— Sean Collins Walsh

3:24 PM - July 9, 2020
3:24 PM - July 9, 2020

Pence arrives for Malvern event

Vice President Mike Pence arrives for a roundtable discussion on reopening the economy at Rajant Corporation, which makes wireless communication systems, in Malvern, Pa., on Thursday, July 9, 2020.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Vice President Mike Pence arrives for a roundtable discussion on reopening the economy at Rajant Corporation, which makes wireless communication systems, in Malvern, Pa., on Thursday, July 9, 2020.

Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Malvern for a roundtable discussion on reopening the economy at the Rajant Corporation, a wireless technology firm.

The event comes as local and state leaders across the country face difficult decisions about whether and how to reopen their economies as new coronavirus cases spike in some regions.

Philadelphia on Thursday reported 159 new coronavirus cases, which is in line with recent daily totals for the city. But officials have said they are worried the city could see an uptick as vacationers return from places like Delaware, which has seen a doubling of its rate of new cases in recent days. At least 1,627 Philadelphians have died after contracting COVID-19.

The roundtable is being held in an enclosed room, and participants are wearing face masks. While the speakers are seated at a distance from each other, there is not enough room for all of the dozens of staffers and journalists covering the event to be six feet apart. Attendees had their temperatures taken before entering.

Before arriving at the event, which was organized by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, Pence held a fundraiser in Manheim, Pa., that netted the Republican National Committee $1 million.

Pence’s visit later on Thursday to the Philadelphia police union lodge is under the auspices of the vice president’s office.

Dozens of supporters and some opponents of Trump and Pence lined the driveway leading to Rajant’s building, holding signs reading “Make America Great Again” and “Flush #2!”

Executives of the company have made contributions to Republicans and Democrats, federal campaign finance data show. But since 2015, the company’s leaders have tilted to the right in their giving. Robert Schena, the company’s cofounder, CEO and chairman, has given about $34,000 to federal GOP groups and campaigns during in the last five years, and only $570 to Democrats in a contribution to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Federal Election Commission data show. None of Schena’s contributions went to the Trump campaign.

— Sean Collins Walsh

3:05 PM - July 9, 2020
3:05 PM - July 9, 2020

Trump supporters and opponents line up in Malvern

— Sean Collins Walsh

2:22 PM - July 9, 2020
2:22 PM - July 9, 2020

Kenney: Having large events ‘doesn’t make any sense to anyone'

Mayor Jim Kenney shown here during a Juneteenth press conference.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Mayor Jim Kenney shown here during a Juneteenth press conference.

A few hours ahead of Vice President Mike Pence’s arrival in the city, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney raised concerns about holding large-scale gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Both the president and the vice president’s standard operating procedure is to have large events in the middle of the pandemic, which doesn’t make any sense to anyone,” Kenney said at a virtual news briefing Thursday. “Certainly the vice president or president is free to go wherever they want to campaign, as is former Vice President Biden.”

But he said he believed the FOP and Secret Service would be monitoring the event and noted that the FOP lodge, which is private property, is in a “more remote” area of the city. A spokesperson for the FOP said about 300 people were expected to attend Pence’s remarks there.

”We will hope for the best. I suspect it will be OK tonight, and we’ll see how it goes,” Kenney said. He said he thought Biden had been “more mature and responsible” with his campaign events “by basically staying close to home and doing things remotely.”

— Justine McDaniel

1:05 PM - July 9, 2020
1:05 PM - July 9, 2020

Pence stops along the roadway to greet fans in Lancaster

Supporters of the Trump/Pence campaign greet the motorcade carrying Vice President Mike Pence after he landed at Lancaster Airport.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Supporters of the Trump/Pence campaign greet the motorcade carrying Vice President Mike Pence after he landed at Lancaster Airport.

When Vice President Mike Pence touched down at the Lancaster airport, he was met by several dozen supporters — some wearing red, white, and blue — and elected officials. Pence wore a face mask as did about half of the supporters there to greet him.

On the way to his first stop — a campaign fundraiser hosted by Ron Kreider in nearby Manheim — Pence got out of the motorcade to greet fans lining Lititz Pike. Some others were gathered in a Sheetz parking lot near the airport, according to pool reports.

Pence is slated to stop next in Malvern, where he will hold a discussion on the economic recovery. He’ll meet with police officers at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge later. According to the FOP, Pence will meet with the family of slain police Cpl. James O’Connor, the six officers shot in Tioga last summer, and the two trapped inside a house during a standoff on 15th Street. He will also give remarks at a “Back the Blue” rally.

— Julia Terruso

12:15 PM - July 9, 2020
12:15 PM - July 9, 2020

Pence arrives at Lancaster airport

Vice President Mike Pence arrived at Lancaster Airport in Lititz, Pa., at about 11 a.m. Thursday to start his series of stops in Pennsylvania.

— Tim Tai

11:00 AM - July 9, 2020
11:00 AM - July 9, 2020

Here’s why the places Pence and Biden are visiting are so important

The presidential race will kick into split-screen intensity in Pennsylvania Thursday as Mike Pence and Joe Biden visit the state in one of the busiest campaign days since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The current and former vice presidents are stopping in four regions with starkly different political characters that show why the state is such a contested battleground.

Pence will hold one event in a Republican stronghold that voted heavily for President Donald Trump, and another in a suburban Philadelphia county that has forcefully rejected him. He will also visit the deep blue city — rallying with police officers in a section of Philadelphia where the Trump campaign thinks it can make inroads.

Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee will speak near his Scranton birthplace, where Republicans have made significant gains.

Combined, the visits to Lancaster, Chester and Lackawanna counties and Philadelphia are pieces of the puzzle in which any shift, even a small one, could make a crucial difference in a state that was decided by about 44,000 votes in 2016, and which again could determine who wins the White House.

The veeps’ visits come amid staggering unemployment, a spike in coronavirus cases, and turmoil over systemic racism. Public polls show Biden leading Trump by 5 to 10 percentage points in the state, though it’s early.

— Jonathan Tamari and Julia Terruso

10:00 AM - July 9, 2020
10:00 AM - July 9, 2020

Mike Pence and Joe Biden are both coming to Pennsylvania today

A soldier salutes Air Force Two as it arrives at Philadelphia International Airport with Vice President Mike Pence during a February stop in the city.
Tyger Williams / Staff Photographer
A soldier salutes Air Force Two as it arrives at Philadelphia International Airport with Vice President Mike Pence during a February stop in the city.

Vice President Mike Pence and Joe Biden, Pence’s predecessor and the presumed Democratic nominee, plan to campaign at about the same time Thursday in Pennsylvania, underscoring the state’s status as a crucial battleground in the race for the White House.

Pence will stop in Lancaster, Malvern, and then Philadelphia, where he will meet with police officers and their families amid weeks of protests against police brutality nationally and in the city.

Biden is scheduled to visit Dunmore, near his hometown of Scranton, where he’ll tour a metalworks facility and deliver remarks on economic recovery.

Pennsylvania has already hosted both men several times in recent months.

— Julia Terruso