PHOENIX — Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden went on the record with ABC15 Tuesday, tackling subjects ranging from defunding the police, to education to Governor Doug Ducey’s management of the COVID-19.
The Biden campaign is making a play for Arizona, seen as one of a handful of battleground states that could be a tipping point in deciding the outcome of the presidential election.
President Trump won Arizona by 3.5 points in 2016.
The Trump campaign has blasted Biden on the airwaves, with an ad claiming he supports defunding the police, a position the Trump camp claims will lead to spikes in crime and slowed police response.
The campaign ties Biden’s support of Black Lives Matter to one of the movement’s central demands: to defund police agencies, using the money for social programs in underserved communities.
“I am opposed to defunding the police,” Biden said. “Matter of fact I called for putting more money in -- $300 million in funding for community policing.”
Biden points out the president called for nearly a half-billion dollars in cuts to local police departments in his most recent budget proposal.
Biden says he wants police reform, but more dollars, not less, for agencies.
“We have to have this as a call to action to finally confront the racial injustices that have been prevalent in this country for far too long,” he said.
Biden also weighed in on the issue of re-opening schools The president has pushed for schools to open without delay in the fall, and has threatened to cut or pull federal funding from states that don’t comply.
The Trump administration argues, re-opening schools is best for children’s mental health, as students across the country have been isolated and out of the classroom since March.
Biden says the president is politicizing the issue.
“Trump doesn’t want to do that hard work. He just wants to order schools open because he’s afraid if he doesn’t, it will hurt his re-election chances,’ Biden said. “It’s not about his re-election. It’s about the safety and security of our teachers and our children and our neighborhoods.”
Biden said he does blame the governor for the state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said pressure from the White House has given all governors a tough choice.
“He (Trump) basically waved the white flag. He said I’m not responsible. I don’t have to do anything. The poor governors, Democrat and Republican, are in a horrible situation.”
Biden’s campaign is quickly building a presence in Arizona, announcing staff for a state office and a $15 million ad buy targeting Arizona and several other states.
Polling shows Biden leads President Donald Trump in Arizona, but by a single-digit margin, making the race a statistical tie.