- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2020

President Trump’s campaign team accused Joseph R. Biden on Monday of endorsing progressives’ growing calls to defund police departments, saying the Democratic nominee’s personal silence on the issue amounts to support for it.

“It is consuming the entire Democrat Party,” said Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director. “Where has Joe Biden been? By his silence, Joe Biden is endorsing defunding the police.”

In the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, many Democrats are pushing to defund police departments. Mr. Biden is traveling to Texas on Monday to meet with Floyd’s family.

Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said the Democrat doesn’t support defunding police, but he does support “the urgent need for reform — including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing — so that officers can focus on the job of policing.”

He pointed to Mr. Biden’s proposal to spend an additional $300 million on community policing.



Mr. Murtaugh dismissed the proposal as “one line item in the massive federal government.”

“We still haven’t heard from Joe Biden himself on the radical ‘Defund the Police’ movement in the Democrat Party,” Mr. Murtaugh said. “Until Americans hear from Joe Biden himself, they have no way of knowing where he really stands. Joe Biden is the leader of his party and he could single-handedly step in and steer elected Democrats away from this terrible policy, which invites chaos in American communities, but he has remained secluded in his basement saying nothing.”

Since the protests turned to rioting and looting in many cities last week, Mr. Trump has returned to a “law and order” theme for his campaign. His campaign now wants to back Mr. Biden into a corner on the issue of defunding police, either causing a split with liberal elements of Mr. Biden’s base or aligning him with a proposal that’s unpopular with many voters.

The issue is also causing a rift for Mr. Biden with police unions; the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations told Politico that Mr. Biden “kept moving left and fell off the deep end.”

Republicans also are raising the issue in congressional races. The campaign arm for Senate Republicans on Monday called on Democratic candidates to take a stand on defunding police.

No Senate Democratic candidate or incumbent running this fall has been willing to speak out against this extreme policy idea. The issue will be too important in voters’ minds for them to remain silent forever.

“What once lived on the liberal fringe has now broken through in a serious way,” said Jesse Hunt, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “Senate Democrats everywhere are going to have to answer to voters about how they plan to keep Americans safe while their party seeks to ‘defund the police.’”

Former Cincinnati, Ohio, Mayor Ken Blackwell said mayors, police chiefs and other local leaders “have a duty to restore order” in their communities.

Referring to the movement to defund police, Mr. Blackwell said, “You’d have to be stuck on stupid to buy into that.”

In a conference call organized by the Trump campaign, former Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh of Chester County, Pennsylvania, called proposals to defund or eliminate police departments “astounding.”

“It would create nothing but chaos and anarchy,” she said. “It’s the job of the government to protect the citizens. Who’s going to answer the 9-1-1 calls?”

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