Biden uses Charlottesville to talk about political violence. But he hasn’t been there

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in Charlottesville, Va. It’s been more than six years since images of a neo-Nazi rally shocked the world – hundreds of people with tiki torches chanted anti-Semitic slurs and counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed.

In the year The events of August 12, 2017 were so shocking that they prompted Joe Biden, who has largely retired from political life, to run for president against Donald Trump. That day in Charlottesville, hearing Trump say “there are very good people on both sides,” he said, was a defining moment.

“In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life,” Biden said in a 2019 video announcing his run for president.

But as much as Biden has said about Charlottesville, some residents are wondering why he hasn’t visited the city.

What the visit means for Biden.

“If it’s affected him … it’s one of the reasons he runs, so why wouldn’t you? I mean, it’s what you do,” said former teacher Carla Hunt.

Student Amy Little said Biden should “absolutely” visit.

“I think there’s a certain gravitas in coming and seeing where these things are and really getting a feel and breathing the air and seeing the sites,” she said.

Others said Biden’s visit won’t make much of a difference.

Local resident Kelly Vo said, “2017 was a long time ago. There’s been an outbreak, there’s been a lot of other places that have happened since then. It’s going where the news is.” “It is what it is.”

Deepa Shivaram / NPR

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NPR

Kelly Vo (left) told NPR that Biden is traveling where the news is, and that a visit to Charlottesville after the events of 2017 would have little impact.

Barbara Perry, a professor of presidential history at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, told NPR that as shocking as the events in Charlottesville were, political memories are short.

“Maybe the further we get from August 2017 and the attack on Charlottesville, it raises a good point: Do we still have that sense of urgency there?” Perry said.

Still, Perry said it was important to speak to Biden on the matter.

“I think it’s really the responsibility of the president of the United States to remind Americans that we’re fighting to preserve the democratic republic,” Perry said.

It’s a central message for Biden’s democracy.

At private events with donors and at some official events, Biden has begun to direct more pointed attacks on Trump — saying he and right-wing Republicans are a threat to the nation’s survival.

At a recent fundraiser in San Francisco, Biden said that “democracy is at risk” in the next election, adding that Trump is “running on a platform to destroy democracy as we know it, and he’s not even hiding the ball.”

In a speech in Tempe, Ariz., President Biden pared some of his attacks on former President Trump, saying he and radical Republicans are a threat to democracy.

Rebecca Noble / Getty Images

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Getty Images

In a speech in Tempe, Ariz., President Biden pared some of his attacks on former President Trump, saying he and radical Republicans are a threat to democracy.

At public events, he has begun making similar arguments. In September Speech In Tempe, Ariz., Biden said it’s up to Americans to decide where they stand on the country’s values.

“Do we still believe in the Constitution? Do we believe in basic decency and respect? The whole country has to ask itself honestly — and I mean this honestly — what it needs and understands the concerns of our democracy,” Biden said.

“I’m asking you whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent – put the protection of our democracy before anything else,” Biden said. “We put our country first.”

Polls show the state of democracy is a top concern for voters. A Recent pollsA whopping 82% of voters from the Bipartisan Policy Center and Morning Consult are concerned.

Biden’s campaign said the president would continue to make fighting political violence a part of his re-election bid, but did not say how he would talk about it going forward.

Copyright 2023 NPR. Visit https://www.npr.org to see more.





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