President Joe Biden returns to the White House in Washington on Monday after spending the weekend in Delaware. He traveled to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Tuesday and will deliver a prime-time speech in Philadelphia on Thursday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 30 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden gave an impassioned speech Tuesday in the battleground state of Pennsylvania to promote his Safer America Plan that will fund the police, invest in crime prevention, address the opioid epidemic and ban assault weapons.
"I call it a Safer America Plan. It's based on a simple notion when it comes to public safety in this nation. The answer is not defund the police, it's fund the police," Biden told a crowd at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.
After the speech, Biden returned to Washington, D.C. He will turn around and head to Philadelphia on Thursday for a prime-time address, which the White House says will center on a campaign promise to "battle for the soul of the nation."
In his speech Tuesday, Biden discussed his American Rescue Plan which sets aside $350 billion for state and local governments to make communities safer.
"My crime plan will help communities to recruit, hire and train nationwide more than 100,000 additional officers, accountable officers, for community policing," Biden said Tuesday.
"We went from having enough cops on the street and cities doing well and deciding they don't need more police officers," Biden said. "Public trust is frayed. It is broken and it undermines public safety when it gets frayed. Without public trust, law enforcement can't do its job."
Biden said he took executive action to make reforms for federal officers and wants to do the same at the state and local level, including chokehold bans and a national database so "bad cops can't hide."
Biden also talked about dealing with the opioid epidemic and common sense action to reduce gun violence.
"We're going to impose tougher penalties for deadly fentanyl trafficking that's poisoning communities across this country," he said.
"I'm determined to ban assault weapons in this country," Biden added to loud cheers. "It's not about taking away guns. We should be treating responsible gun owners as examples."
Biden said service members, who have mental health and background checks as well as training, should use assault weapons in war but said a 20-year-old should not be allowed to buy the same weapon.
"Our kids should learn to read in school instead of learning to duck and cover," Biden shouted.
Biden also said his Safer America Plan would invest in crime prevention for school and summer job programs, as well as mental health and drug counseling.
"Help people pick up a paycheck instead of a pistol," Biden yelled.
Biden wrapped up his speech by blasting Republicans and the political violence on Jan. 6, 2021, as well as threats against the FBI following the search of former President Donald Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month.
"You can't be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurrection," Biden said. "I'm opposed to defunding the police. I am also opposed to defunding the FBI."
On Thursday, in his televised speech from outside Philadelphia's famous Independence Hall, Biden is expected to contrast his agenda against that of Republicans and show how American "rights and freedoms are still under attack."
"He will make clear who is fighting for those rights, fighting for those freedoms, and fighting for our democracy," one White House official said, according to CNBC.
The speech will be Biden's third event in Pennsylvania over the past week, and administration officials say he's planning more stops across the country in the coming weeks to persuade voters ahead of the November midterms.
President Joe Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington on August 16. The new law is considered one of Biden's signature accomplishments since he became president. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
The president ramped up his tough talk in Maryland last week when he blasted Republicans for their continued support of Donald Trump and called out false claims about the long-settled 2020 election.
"What we're seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy," Biden said then. "It's not just Trump ... it's the entire philosophy that underpins the -- I'm going to say something: It's like semi-fascism."
Biden's approval ratings, which had dipped below 40% earlier this year, have ticked up about 5% as Americans are paying less for gas than a month ago and Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which may be Biden's signature victory so far.
Then next month, Biden will host the United We Stand cultural summit at the White House, at which he's expected to lay out his vision "for a more united America" in the aftermath of multiple hate-motivated crimes -- such as mass shootings at a Texas elementary school, a Fourth of July parade near Chicago and a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
Pennsylvania, Biden's home state, was key to his victory in the 2020 election. Voters in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia cast ballots in large numbers for Biden, which helped put him over the top and win the presidency.