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Joe Biden calls for unity in visit to historic Gettysburg

Joe Biden calls for unity in visit to historic Gettysburg
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden attends a rally on September 30 outside the Greensburg Depot in Greensburg, Pa., one of his stops on the "Build Back Better" train tour. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered a call for unity during a campaign event in southern Pennsylvania on Tuesday, a state viewed as a critical battleground for next month's election.

Speaking in Gettysburg, in the south-central part of the state, at the site of perhaps the Civil War's most famous battle, Biden recalled the immortal words of President Abraham Lincoln who said that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

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Biden said the United States is once again a house divided and November's election represents "a battle for a soul of the nation."

"As I look across America today, I'm concerned," he said. "The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Too many Americans see our public life not as an arena for mediation of our differences, but rather they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting partisan warfare. Instead of treating each other's party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy. This must end."

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Biden also repeated his declaration that he will look to serve Americans who do not vote for him just as well as those who do.

"You don't have to agree with me on everything, or even most things, to see that we're experiencing today is neither good nor normal," he said.

The former vice president declared that as president he would send a clear message that there is "no place for hate in America," referencing his decision to run for president following the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., protests that left one woman dead.

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Biden condemned both armed militias and rioters that have appeared at protests in recent months sparked by police violence against Black Americans, including the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

He declared that he does not support defunding police departments while acknowledging the impacts of racial injustice throughout the United States' history.

"I do not believe we have to choose between law and order and racial justice in America," Biden said. "We can have both. This is a nation strong enough to both honestly face systemic racism and strong enough to provide safe streets for our families and small businesses that too often bear the brunt of this looting and burning."

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A day after his opponent, President Donald Trump, was released from the hospital following three days of treatment for COVID-19, Biden decried the politicization of the virus reflected in issues such as wearing masks and social distancing.

"This pandemic is not a red state or blue state issue. This virus doesn't care where you live, or what political party you belong to. It infects us all, it will take anyone's life," he said. "It's a virus, it's not a political weapon."

Biden declared that while "we can't undo what has been done," a national strategy to combat the coronavirus would save future lives and allow schools, businesses and other services to reopen safely.

Tuesday was Biden's fourth visit to Pennsylvania in recent weeks. He made a five-city, whistle-stop train tour last week, visited Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University in August and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11.

Pennsylvania, which will award 20 electoral votes in next month's election, has been a key target of Biden and Trump's campaigns. Trump won the state four years ago by about 45,000 votes.

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Former second lady Dr. Jill Biden will visit North Carolina on Tuesday to attend a "Get Out the Vote" rally in Greenville and a meeting with veterans and military families in Fayetteville.

Dr. Jill Biden is seen on September 29 at the first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

North Carolina is also considered a key battleground state for the Nov. 3 vote. Democrats have focused more efforts in the state this year, with Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris each visiting last month.

Harris was in Utah on Tuesday to prepare for Wednesday's vice presidential debate. She traveled to the state late last week, and Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Salt Lake City on Monday.

The 90-minute debate will take place at the University of Utah and will start at 7 p.m. MDT on Wednesday.

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