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EXCLUSIVE: Joe Biden Discusses Rising Homicide Rate In Philadelphia, Details Plan To Safely Reopen Pennsylvania

BRISTOL, Pa. (CBS) -- The battleground state of Pennsylvania went red in 2016 by a small margin. Many believe the state's 20 electoral votes could decide this year's election, just 10 days away from ending.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, of Willow Grove, Montgomery County, spoke at a drive-in rally in Bristol on Saturday afternoon. They spoke about the importance of Pennsylvania when it comes to winning the 2020 election.

After the rally, the former vice president spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News Anchor Jessica Kartalija.

Kartalija: Crime rates in Philadelphia, as you know, are at an all-time high. As of this morning, 391 homicides already this year. What is your plan to reduce crime in our city specifically and around the country amid these calls to defund the police?

Biden: Well, first of all, I do not support defunding the police as you know. I'm glad you didn't ask it that way because you know I didn't. And secondly, the police department of Philly knows that as well. When we were president and vice president, Barack and I, the crime rate fell 15%. It fell 15% because we provided support for law enforcement, we condemned all violence, whether it's violence by a renegade cop or it's violence by a protester taking a baseball and smashing a window or burning a place down. I think police departments need more resources, not fewer. One of the things I'm going to do as soon as I get elected, if I get elected, is to call together a commission made up of law enforcement, made up of the community, made up of the civil rights community as well and sit us down and work out rational means about how we move forward.

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Kartalija: My grandfather was a coal miner in Western Pennsylvania. Industry leaders are concerned that if you win, demand for Pennsylvania coal will decline significantly as we move toward green energy. You also talked about transitioning away from oil. What would you tell these families here in Pennsylvania who are concerned about this?

Biden: Look, I'm from Scranton, Pennsylvania. My great grandfather is a mining engineer, so I come from coal country. I'm not talking about eliminating fracking, I just say no more fracking on federal lands with regard to gas, oil, coal, all of it, the transition is taking place, nothing to do with anything I'm proposing. The fact is, the fastest growing industries in the country are solar and wind. We can move in the direction where the transition takes place, so people are not left behind. We have to invest in the new technologies.

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Kartalija: As you mentioned, 85,000 new cases, you said the president quit on this country. If elected, what are your parameters for reopening businesses and schools in Pennsylvania?

Biden: The day I get elected, if I get elected, I'd call every governor together and I'd ask them to please do a mask mandate. If they're not going to do that, then I'd go to the mayors and the county executives and the local elected officials. We'd make sure in order for businesses and schools to open, you provide them with the financial assistance needed to open to provide the protective gear, to provide everything from new ventilation in their businesses and their schools and making sure they have the opportunity to have gloves and masks and the like and have it for free. But I would not be doing what the president is doing, holding super-spreader rallies around the country, which has just been pointed out in the wake of his rallies there's upticks in COVID. It's not a violation of freedom, it's patriotic. I'd invest a lot of money in making sure we had testing that could turn around in 24 hours.

Kartalija: We have not seen unity in this country for some time. I don't remember the country ever being this divisive. How do you plan to restore unity if you were elected?

Biden: Start talking to people with decency, so stop how vicious politics has become. Look at what the president does, everything's name-calling. That's not American politics. That's not who we are, we're so much better than that. We cannot govern this nation, this is not who we are if we cannot reach compromise. And I promise you, I've done that my whole career, and I believe I can do it again.


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