SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden are joining together for the first time during her presidential campaign as the nation confronts a recurring issue of the 2016 race: the rash of police-related shootings.
Clinton and Biden were taking stage Friday in the vice president’s boyhood hometown following the death of five police officers in Dallas on Thursday night. Police said gunfire broke out while hundreds of people were protesting fatal police shootings this week in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Clinton campaigned with President Barack Obama last week and her appearance with Biden in Pennsylvania, a general election battleground state, is aimed at building party unity ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
It will lean heavily on biography. Biden lived in Scranton as a boy and has returned multiple times as vice president. Clinton often talks about her grandfather’s work in a Scranton lace mill and her father’s upbringing in the city.
But the event comes at the end of a somber week. The deaths of the Dallas police officers followed the police-involved fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota.
Clinton planned to discuss criminal justice reform following the high-profile shootings. She has made overhauling the criminal justice system a major focus of her campaign and outlined steps to curb gun violence. The White House — with Biden playing an active role — has been unable to get Congress to enact stricter gun control measures after several high-profile shootings, including the deaths of 20 children and six staff members at a school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
The former secretary of state has not yet addressed the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute her use of a private email system while serving in Obama’s Cabinet or the FBI’s contention that she was “extremely careless” in handling classified information. FBI Director James Comey on Thursday defended the government’s decision not to prosecute, pushing back against suggestions that Clinton received special treatment.