Until today, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has been deafeningly silent on the radical anti-police movement gaining steam among progressives in his party.
The Democratic nominee has yet to personally speak on the issue, but Biden spokesman Andrew Bates claimed on Monday that “Biden does not believe that police should be defunded.”
Biden’s hesitance on the issue may reflect a realization that this is going to be a delicate issue for his campaign. But his past statements on law enforcement have been less careful, and are desperately at odds with current progressive calls to “defund” and “abolish” the police.
In July 2012, when he and then-President Obama were running for reelection, Biden touted that they were “honored to accept the endorsement of the National Association of Police Organizations,” in a tweet signed “Joe” to indicate it was personally written by Biden.
The President and I are honored to accept the endorsement of the National Association of Police Organizations. –Joe
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 26, 2012
Biden was the reason that the NAPO endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012, according to NAPO’s executive director, Bill Johnson. Now, Johnson adds, police are no longer seeing Biden as an ally.
While organizations like Black Lives Matter and radical wings of the Democratic party call for the defunding of police departments, Biden made a point to criticize Obama’s Republican opponent Mitt Romney in 2012 for cutting police jobs and funding.
“Romney Economics means fewer teachers, fewer firefighters, and fewer police officers,” Biden warned.
Romney Economics means fewer teachers, fewer firefighters, and fewer police officers: http://t.co/ruNTxNG9
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 12, 2012
In May 2012, Biden bragged about his track record of increasing police funding, reminding everyone that “In 2009, VP Biden helped secure $1 billion in grants to hire and rehire police officers around the country.”
In 2009, VP Biden helped secure $1 billion in grants to hire and rehire police officers around the country: http://t.co/4HvmDaJv
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 11, 2012
Two months later, he promised “Barack and I will continue to do everything we can to keep police officers across the country on the beat.”
Barack and I will continue to do everything we can to keep police officers across the country on the beat. –Joe
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 26, 2012
In 1994, Biden played a key role in crafting the 1994 crime bill as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Cory Booker dubbed Biden the “Architect of Mass Incarceration” for his work on the crime bill.
The women on Biden’s shortlist for VP candidates have also mostly dodged direct support for the movement to “defund the police.”
Rep. Val Demings (D.-Fla.), a former police chief, hinted that she was not in favor of defunding or abolishing police departments, posting on Twitter that “we must ensure legislative efforts do not prevent America’s finest sons and daughters from seeking a career in law enforcement.”
To protect our communities and the life, liberty, and safety of every American, it is vital that we hold bad cops accountable, end unjust practices, increase transparency, and refocus police on their core mission: to protect and serve every American, regardless of their race. pic.twitter.com/CgLGKoQbja
— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) June 8, 2020
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who the Biden campaign was reportedly vetting, had previously introduced a bill in 2017 that increased funding and manpower for law enforcement.
2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who has vocalized interest in being Biden’s running mate, bragged in a 2018 campaign pamphlet about supporting “a living wage for law enforcement,” drawing a contrast with her opponent.
If the Biden campaign doesn’t want to alienate a vocal wing of the Democratic party, he’s going to have to explain the strong support for police that he previously touted.