The two traveled to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93, hijacked by the terrorists, crashed. But at different times.
The question always resonates in historical events: What were you doing on the day that such a thing happened? All Americans remember where that one was on September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m.
Senator Joe Biden was traveling by train from his home in Delaware to Washington, where he was scheduled to give a speech on Capitol Hill. In the middle of the trip, his wife called him and alerted him that a plane had hit the Twin Towers. He wanted to go to Congress to give a speech against terrorism, but they were evacuated.
Donald Trump, then a New York real estate mogul, was watching television when the bloodiest terrorist attack in American history happened. A chain immediately consulted him on the matter and stressed that none of his buildings had been damaged and that after the collapse of the World Trade Center one of its Trump towers had become the tallest in Manhattan. Something that was not true.
Biden and Trump were the protagonists this Friday of the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that caused nearly 3,000 deaths, in the middle of a fierce electoral campaign, in different acts and avoiding crossing. In addition, one spent the time discreetly comforting the families, while the president highlighted in his speeches the power of the United States.
Trump and Biden traveled to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the rural area where the hijacked Flight 93 crashed and everyone on board was killed. But, in tough electoral times, of political and personal attacks, and with ceremonies cut short by the pandemic, the candidates for the presidency of the United States on November 3 they did not cross.
Trump was at the scene in the morning and Biden was later, after attending the annual commemoration at the 9/11 National Monument and Museum in New York along with Vice President Mike Pence.
Biden emphasized that it was a day of mourning and that he would stop campaigning and that he would not give political messages as a sign of mourning and commemoration of the victims. “I’m not going to make the news today, I’m not going to talk about anything other than 9/11,” Biden told reporters. “There will be no propaganda from us today. It is a solemn day and so we will observe it, okay? “
The Trump campaign did not make a similar promise, stressing that Biden’s ads kept popping up.
But it was impossible to avoid registering the political signals. Trump did not go to New York because, even though it is his city, it is a Democratic stronghold and it is hostile to him. He preferred to go to Shanksville because, in addition to the site of the tragedy, Pennsylvania is a crucial state in the election.
Trump won it by less than a percentage point in 2016 and Democrats hope to win it back this year. Biden is about 4.3% ahead in the polls there, but it’s all very volatile. That is why the Democrat also went there.
Trump delivered a patriotic speech in Shanksville with the story of Flight 93, which authorities said was headed for some purpose in Washington until passengers agreed to overpower the hijackers mid-flight and ended up crashing.
“The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that whatever the danger, whatever the threat, whatever the odds, Americans will always stand up to fight.” He expressed solidarity with the families of the victims by saying that “today every heart in the United States beats in unison with you.”
He mentioned how the country came together after the attacks, not to mention the current divisions around the coronavirus and racial issues. Along with first lady Melania Trump, she laid a wreath at the site and observed a minute’s silence aboard the presidential plane at 8:46, the time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center 19 years ago.
Different was the scene at the ceremony in Manhattan. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill De Blasio and the White House representative were Vice President Mike Pence, all wearing chinstraps.
At an unusual moment of détente in this aggressive campaign, Biden walked up to Pence and tapped him on the shoulder to greet him. Then elbows collided – the salute that replaces the handshake during the pandemic – and Biden repeated the salute with second lady Karen Pence.
At one point reading the names of the dead, Biden saw a woman crying. Amanda Barreto, 27, lost her godmother and aunt in the attacks. She said Biden reached out and told her that she knew what it meant to lose someone, referring to her son Beau, who died of a brain tumor. “She told me to stand my ground,” she said. She thanked her for her words and said she would vote for her in November.