With less than 100 days until Election Day, Vice President Mike Pence returned to Pennsylvania on Thursday for the second time this month and delivered a campaign speech to an enthusiastic crowd of law enforcement officers and their supporters.
Recent polls show President Donald Trump losing ground to Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. So Pence used his speech in a steamy strip mall parking lot in Greensburg to attack Biden’s record on key issues in the battleground state.
He repeated several of the Trump campaign’s criticisms of Biden: that he doesn’t support the police, that he wants to ban fracking, and that major American cities like Philadelphia wouldn’t be safe on his watch.
We’ve scrutinized these claims before, and we’re summarizing what we know below.
That statement followed a video interview Biden did with liberal activist Ady Barkan that posted July 8.
Barkan spent most of the 27-minute interview asking about health care. But about 20 minutes in, the discussion turned to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both unarmed Black people killed in encounters with police.
Biden spoke about his interest in redirecting some law enforcement funding to social services, mental health counseling, and affordable housing. Then he spoke about police using military equipment in their communities, which is where the “enemy” comment came up.
“Surplus military equipment for law enforcement — they don’t need that,” he said. ”The last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into a neighborhood; it’s like the military invading. They don’t know anybody; they become the enemy. They’re supposed to be protecting these people.”
Biden said police “become the enemy” when they use military equipment in a way that’s like invading a neighborhood. That context is missing from Pence’s portrayal.
Pence knows his audience.
The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has lifted the economy in southwestern Pennsylvania, and voters there might not be willing to support a presidential candidate who opposes the practice outright.
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican congressman from Butler County, north of Pittsburgh, also accused Biden of wanting to end fracking on a Trump campaign call earlier this month.
Biden wants to block the federal government from issuing new permits for drilling on public land, but he has not called for banning fracking. He also would allow existing fracking operations to continue.
His official position hasn’t changed, but it became muddled when Biden misspoke during a March debate with Bernie Sanders, his last opponent standing in the Democratic primary.
Here’s an excerpt of their exchange:
“I’m talking about stopping fracking as soon as we possibly can,” Sanders said. “I’m talking about telling the fossil fuel industry that they are going to stop destroying this planet — no ifs, buts, and maybes about it.”
“So am I,” Biden replied.
“Well, I’m not sure your proposal does that,” Sanders said.
“No more — no new fracking,” Biden said.
Biden seemed to be saying he wanted to ban fracking — a sharp departure from his official position. And the former vice president’s critics pounced.
Philadelphia is one of several major American cities where President Donald Trump has threatened to send federal law enforcement agents.
During a recent speech from the East Room of the White House, Trump said that “murders this year have spiked 27% in Philadelphia.”
Trump was correct when he made those remarks, and the problem has only gotten worse in the days since. Fifteen more people have been murdered in the last week, meaning homicides in Philadelphia are now up 32% compared to last year, city crime statistics show.
Pence seems to have misspoken when he said murders in Philadelphia had risen 20%.