The president, on his way to an event in McHenry County, Illinois – where he's making the case for the infrastructure deal reached by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House – was greeted by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, both Democrats, as he deplaned Air Force One at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
The meeting came after more than 100 people were shot and 19 killed over the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, the city’s most violent weekend this year. And LIghtfoot has come under increasing pressure to take action.
Lightfoot campaigned for mayor as a public safety expert and on Tuesday vowed that "we are doing absolutely everything that we can to stem the violence." But the city council and neighborhood officials are growing restless.
The president last month rolled out a package of crime-fighting proposals that included cracking down on illegal guns, which has long been a major contributing factor to Chicago’s violence.
Biden’s stop in Chicago came hours after two federal agents and a Chicago police officer were shot early Wednesday while on duty in an unmarked law enforcement vehicle on the city’s Far South Side.
After the meeting, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that "during a greet with Mayor Lightfoot on the airport tarmac, President Biden expressed his personal support for the two ATF officials and the Chicago police officer who were shot earlier today. He reiterated his commitment to working with the Mayor and leaders in Chicago in the fight against gun violence and conveyed that the Department of Justice would soon be in touch about the strike force announced just a few weeks ago that will be working with cities like Chicago."
Ahead of next year’s midterm elections, when the Republicans aim to win back majorities in both the House and Senate, the GOP’s been targeting Biden for the rise in crime and gun violence in cities across the country. And they’ve been trying to tie the president and congressional Democrats to the calls by some on the far left of the Democratic Party to defund the police in the wake of last year's protests from coast to coast over racial inequity.
National polling indicates that crime is rising as a top issue on the minds of American voters.
The president’s overall approval rating stood at 50% approval and 42% disapproval in an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted June 27-30. But his approval on dealing with crime was underwater, at 38%-48%.