President-elect Joe Biden urged a group of activists to remain silent on his "promise" to "change policing" until after Georgia's January Senate runoff elections, arguing that the push could alienate Peach State voters.
"I also don't think that we should get too far ahead of ourselves on dealing with police reform in that, because they've already labeled us as being 'defund the police,'" Biden said of Republicans. "Anything we put forward in terms of the organizational structure to change policing—which I promise you will occur, promise you—just think to yourself and give me advice whether we should do that before January 5th, because that's how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we're talking about defunding the police."
"How much do we push between now and January 5th—we need those two seats—about police reform?" Biden went on to ask.
Biden's comments came during a Tuesday call with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, NAACP president Derrick Johnson, and other progressive activists, according to the Intercept. The call also came one week ahead of Biden's first runoff campaign stop with Democratic Senate hopefuls Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
While Ossoff and Warnock have recently distanced themselves from calls to defund police, both Democrats have expressed hostility toward law enforcement in the past. Ossoff argued that funding for police departments has to be "on the line" in June and highlighted the need to hold "entire departments accountable." Warnock, meanwhile, said that many police officers behave like gangsters and thugs in a series of 2015 sermons. Ossoff defended the comments of his self-described "running mate," claiming that ads targeting Warnock's sermons are "nonsense" and "fear-mongering."
Both Ossoff and Warnock campaign staffers have also backed the call to defund police. Ossoff campaign deputy press secretary Rhyan Lake in May donated to bail out "Defund the Police" rioters in Minnesota. Lake went on to share a tweet from far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) defending the defund police movement. In addition, Warnock senior adviser Dasheika Ruffin argued that defunding police is not a "radical" policy in a June tweet, claiming that the movement is "about a complete reimagining of law enforcement in the United States."
Ossoff and Warnock have received extensive support from the Black Lives Matter PAC, which calls to end federal funding for police and "close all federal prisons." The pair of Democrats will face Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, in the state's January 5 runoffs.