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Biden Trip to NYC Designed To Show He 'Is Taking Crime Seriously'

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended herself and the Biden administration after comments she made during a podcast drew criticism, The Hill reports. President Biden's planned trip to New York City on Thursday to meet with Mayor Eric Adams to talk about measures to combat gun crime. The trip seems carefully designed to show the president is taking crime seriously.

Adams, a former New York City police officer, won the Democratic mayoral nomination last year over more progressive rivals. His victory was attributed in in part to his tough-on-crime rhetoric. He now is grappling with public unease fueled by high-profile violent crimes, including the murder of two police officers while answering a domestic disturbance call in Harlem on Jan. 21.

Biden is facing similar challenges on a national basis, with at least 16 cities hitting new peaks in homicide totals last year. Meanwhile, the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2021 reached 73, the highest since 1995, with the unique exception of 2001, when many police officers died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"It's not only that many police officers have been killed. It’s also the large number of innocent bystanders who have been killed throughout the country,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor emeritus who specializes in political communication. “That is the thing that makes it so problematic for the president and the Democrats. It’s all over the country.”

Democrats have been vulnerable to being seen as soft on crime for at least a generation. In 1988, crime was the issue that was perceived to have sunk Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis in his quest for the White House. Dukakis has warned today’s Democrats not to repeat his mistakes, describing the ‘Defund the Police’ movement as “nuts.”

An ABC News/Ipsos poll in mid-December indicated that crime was one of Biden’s weakest issues. Only 36 percent of adults approved of how he was handing crime, in contrast to the 61 percent who disapproved.

Crime plays into “political sloganeering — and Fox News and the Republicans are very good at it,” said progressive strategist Jonathan Tasini.

During an appearance last week on the “Pod Save America” podcast, which is hosted by former aides to President Obama, Psaki appeared to glance up at a TV screen showing several networks, including Fox News.

“On Fox, is Jeanine Pirro talking about ‘soft-on-crime consequences.’ I mean, what? What does that even mean?” Psaki asked with a laugh. “There’s an alternate universe on some coverage.”

Critics — including the Republican National Committee — contended she was taking public concern about crime too lightly.


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