PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania was the focus Thursday of both Vice President Mike Pence and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The two campaigned in the Keystone State, with Biden speaking in Dunmore, just outside of Scranton, and Pence making a couple of stops — the last one in Philadelphia, where he addressed the Fraternal Order of Police.
Pence departed the Philadelphia area around 8 p.m. after a tour that started in central Pennsylvania led to Northeast Philly. A “Back the Blue” rally held at the Philadelphia FOP headquarters was more like a party, one thrown every few years when spirits require boosting.
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“Right now, folks, there is no support for the police,” Philadelphia FOP President John McNesby said. “Zero politicians in the City of Philadelphia, City Council.”
While police supporters gathered outside, inside, union members and their families awaited the arrival of Pence, who traveled by bus from Lancaster and stopped in Malvern along the way.
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“He has been wanting to come in for months, from what I understand,” McNesby said. “This was a chance where his schedule permitted and he came in for it.”
Before taking the stage, the vice president met with the six officers who were injured in last August’s shootout in North Philadelphia and the family of Sgt. James O’Connor — killed in the line of duty in March.
“The truth is that we don’t need to choose between supporting our police and supporting our communities,” Pence said, “and we also don’t need to choose between supporting our police and supporting African-American families here in Philadelphia.”
Addressing the City of Philadelphia’s $33 million reduction to the police force’s budget, Pence said, “Under this president and this administration, we’re not going to defund the police. Not now, not ever.”
The room, where the invitation-only portion of the event was held, was said to be at reduced capacity. Masks were worn very sparingly.
Outside, a few dozen protesters took in demonstrations throughout the day.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain and Sen. Pat Toomey also spoke at Thursday’s event.