CLEVELAND — President Biden wrapped up his visit to Cleveland Thursday afternoon after giving a speech on the economy and on his proposed $1.9 trillion infrastructure and investment plan.
In his speech at Cuyahoga Community College, Biden touted the economic progress the U.S. has made since he took office in January, claiming that the COVID-19 stimulus package was the catalyst to begin building back.
Last stop: ice cream
On his way out of town, the president stopped at Honey Hut for a cone and a pic with, it turns out, city council president Kevin Kelley's daughter.
He was asked about the Jan. 6 commission and had this to say:
President Biden delivered remarks
Biden gave a speech on the U.S. economy and his "Blue Collar Blueprint for America" at Cuyahoga Community College. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson were also in attendance.
Watch his full speech in the media player below:
Biden tours Tri-C
President Biden toured Cuyahoga Community College's manufacturing and 3-D printing facilities before his scheduled speech at Tri-C around 2:20 p.m.
During his tour, Biden made a stop at the Robotics Integrated System Station, an immersive experience to prepare students for the sounds, feel, and potential problems that they may encounter while working at any given section of an automation-enabled factory.
He also talked to students at The Ideation Station, a digital fabrication laboratory that allows individuals to experience a simulation of the “fun” of manufacturing.
Watch video of the president's visit to the college below:
President Biden lands in Cleveland
Biden flew into Hopkins Thursday afternoon and landed at about 1 p.m. He spoke briefly with U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur on the tarmac before departing to tour Cuyahoga Community College. Watch video of the president's arrival below:
President Biden departs for Cleveland
As President Biden departed the White House for Cleveland, reporters asked him about striking a bipartisan deal with Republicans on his infrastructure plan. Watch video of Biden taking off in Air Force One below:
Local activists speak out ahead of arrival
Before his arrival, "Tamir's Campaign for Justice" released a statement calling for Biden to “make things right” after the federal investigation by former President Trump's Department of Justice ended when political supervisors denied requests from career prosecutors to convene a grand jury to investigate the case.
The statement reads:
Trump’s Department of Justice shelved the federal investigation and then underhandedly announced its closure in the winter holiday of 2020. The Rice family has renewed their quest for justice for Tamir and are asking Biden to make good on a promise he made in 2015 at the 60th annual NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund:
“President Biden, when I saw you in 2015 at a convention in Detroit, Michigan, you promised to make things right when you became the next president. We were on stage together and you shook my hand and said 'We will make things right.' I’m asking you to re-open Tamir’s case. His human and civil rights were violated in the most horrific way and for that Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback need to be convicted,” said Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice and founder of the Tamir Rice Foundation.
Tamir’s Campaign for Justice is calling on the Department of Justice to re-open the case against Garmback and Loehmann for civil rights violations that led to the death of Tamir Rice. Convictions of these officers would help end police impunity for anti-Black violence in the United States, and would bring the Rice family much needed peace.
What he'll talk about
The economy and his $1.7 trillion American Jobs plan.
News 5 reporter Taneisha Cordell previewed the president's visit during Good Morning Cleveland. Watch it in the media player below:
"He’ll talk about the fact that his economic plan is working, it’s helping put people back to work, it’s helping give people hope but also now is the time to invest more in our economy," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told News 5.
The room inside Tri-C where President Biden will talk about his “Blue Collar Blueprint for America.” pic.twitter.com/lEIthxXd1u— John Kosich (@KosichJohn) May 27, 2021
What's the back story on this visit?
March 10, 2020 was the day when traditional campaigning ground to a halt in the 2020 race for the White House. Both Biden and Bernie Sanders were to have competing rallies in Cleveland one week ahead of the state’s primary. Within hours of the events, both were canceled as the state began the process of shutting down large gatherings in an effort to get ahead of the pandemic. Biden flew instead to Philadelphia as all in-person campaigning stopped.
The president would like to forge ahead on an infrastructure deal with Republican support, especially from Ohio's soon to be retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who told News 5 there should be a dialogue.
"I told the White House and the president that I believe in this case we can find common ground," Portman said. "This is one where there is no excuse for us not figuring out a good bi-partisan solution."
So then is there a message to Portman in the president coming to Ohio?
"Well, we agree and we certainly welcome that openness by Senator Portman,” Psaki said. “Even though people feel like there's no bipartisanship happening, there is."
Where they disagree is in how to pay for it. The White House wants to raise taxes on the rich while Republicans feel it can be done in other ways.
“With regards to real infrastructure there are opportunities for 'payfors' including user fees and including the gas tax, which still generates billions of dollars,” Portman said. “And including public-private partnerships and ways to use the government leverage to infrastructure bank to be able to pay for these over time because these are long term capital expenditures.”
News 5 asked Psaki if they are non-starters. “For the president they really are,” she said.
Biden's visit will come as Republicans put forward their counter-proposal, which the president will likely react to in real time on this stop.