Advertisement

Biden, at abortion rights campaign rally, repeatedly interrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters

In their first joint appearance of the 2024 campaign, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held an abortion rights rally in Virginia on Tuesday -- but Biden was repeatedly interrupted by protesters opposed to his support for Israel in its war with Hamas in Gaza.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers remarks, during a campaign event focusing on abortion rights in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024.  (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers remarks, during a campaign event focusing on abortion rights in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Biden had trouble delivering his prepared speech, by one count getting interrupted 14 times by protester chants that included "Genocide Joe" and "cease-fire now."

PHOTO: A demonstrator interrupts President Joe Biden during a campaign event focusing on abortion rights in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024.  (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
PHOTO: A demonstrator interrupts President Joe Biden during a campaign event focusing on abortion rights in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

His supporters in the audience, in turn, repeatedly drowned out the protesters with chants of "four more years" and "let's go Joe."

PHOTO: A protestor holds a sign during President Joe Biden's campaign event focusing on abortion rights, in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024.  (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
PHOTO: A protestor holds a sign during President Joe Biden's campaign event focusing on abortion rights, in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The protesters were escorted out each time.

When he was able to continue, Biden spoke of what he called the "devastating impacts" of the Supreme Court overruling Roe v. Wade, how Republicans have tried to limit access since then and how women voters have backed abortion rights in recent votes.

"Today in America, women are being turned away from emergency rooms, forced to travel hundreds of miles to get basic health care, forced to go to court to plead to help to protect themselves and their ability to then have children in the future," Biden said. "The cruelty is astounding. And it's a direct affront to a woman's dignity."

MORE: Biden administration announces new steps to protect contraceptives, abortion medication on Roe anniversary

The rally, on the same day as the New Hampshire GOP primary, was part of a larger effort to mark the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

"It feels like so much is at stake and things could go either way," Jackie Hoffenberg, a voter who attended the Biden rally in Virginia, told ABC News. "Our country is really going to not be the same if Joe Biden is not the next president."

PHOTO: Vice President Kamala Harris speaks before President Joe Biden appears at an event on the campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024. (Alex Brandon/AP)
PHOTO: Vice President Kamala Harris speaks before President Joe Biden appears at an event on the campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024. (Alex Brandon/AP)

In a sign Harris will continue to take a leading role -- she kicked off her "Fight for Reproductive Freedoms" tour in battleground Wisconsin on Monday -- Harris on Tuesday first took the stage to blast Trump and Republican "extremists" who have pushed for limiting abortion access.

"Former President Trump picked hand-picked three Supreme Court justices because he intended for them to overturn Roe," Harris said. "He intended for them to take your freedoms. He is the architect of this health care crisis."

Biden echoed her remarks, saying "the person most responsible for taking away this freedom in America is Donald Trump," saying his name at least 14 times.

“Let's remember, it was Donald Trump and his Supreme Court that ripped away the rights and freedoms in America," he said.

During a Fox News town hall in Iowa earlier this month, Trump said, "For 54 years, they were trying to get Roe v. Wade terminated, and I did it, and I'm proud to have done it" -- a line the Biden campaign has repeatedly quoted in fundraising pitches since.

"And he is not done," Harris said of Trump on Tuesday. "And the extremists are not done in the United States Congress, extremists who are trying to pass a national abortion ban to outlaw abortion in every state. But what they need to know is that we will not allow it, the American people will not allow it."

Biden and Harris were joined in Virginia by their spouses, who also delivered brief remarks.

PHOTO: Second gentleman Doug Emhoff speaks as first lady Jill Biden listens before President Joe Biden appears at an event on the campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024. (Alex Brandon/AP)
PHOTO: Second gentleman Doug Emhoff speaks as first lady Jill Biden listens before President Joe Biden appears at an event on the campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va., Jan. 23, 2024. (Alex Brandon/AP)
PHOTO: ABC News' Mary Bruce speaks with Vice President Kamala Harris. (ABC News)
PHOTO: ABC News' Mary Bruce speaks with Vice President Kamala Harris. (ABC News)

On Monday, the Biden campaign deployed surrogates in Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, to stress their message opposing abortion bans and the former president.

MORE: Trump boasts of role ending Roe v. Wade, says abortion bans must have 'concessions'

Biden and Harris are also battering Trump on the airwaves, rolling out a new TV ad that features a Texas mother who their campaign said had to go out of state to get an abortion to save her life.

"I never thought I would need an abortion for a planned pregnancy," Austin Dennard, a Dallas-area OB-GYN, said. "But, I did."

Dennard said she "desperately wanted" that baby, but was told during a routine doctor's visit that the fetus had no chance of surviving. She blames Trump for having to leave her state for what she said was a potentially life-saving procedure.

"In Texas, you are forced to carry that pregnancy and that is because of Donald Trump overturning Roe v. Wade," Dennard said in the ad. "The choice was completely taken away. I was to continue my pregnancy, putting my life at risk."

It was an ordeal, Dennard said, that is "every woman's worst nightmare."

MORE: Fighting for their lives: Women and the impact of abortion restrictions in post-Roe America

The president on Tuesday warned about several proposals by Republicans in Congress that would ban abortion at the federal level, and once again said he would veto any such legislation if it were to make it to his desk.

Biden also said the nation needs to restore the protections provided under Roe v. Wade -- which Democrats in Congress currently don't currently have the votes to pass.

"Give me a Democratic House of Representatives and give me a bigger, bigger Democratic Senate where we will pass a new law restoring and protecting Roe v Wade, and I will sign it up immediately," he said.

Despite the campaign's urgency to push abortion to the head of their platform some members of Biden's own party are sounding the alarm that more needs to be done.

Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a key surrogate for the Biden campaign, told the CBS program "Face the Nation" that Biden needs to use more "blunt language" to let voters know what's at stake in the upcoming election.

"I think people want to know that this is a president that is fighting. And I think he has said that. To use maybe more, you know, blunt language, maybe that would be helpful," said Whitmer.

She also said Biden should talk about abortion more.

"I think it would be good if he did. I know that one tenet of his belief system is that women and only women ... with their families and health care professionals are the ones who know what decision is right for them," Whitmer said. "And that he is fighting and going to continue to fight to make sure that that is squarely the ability of an American woman to make that decision."

In just the first year since the Supreme Court overruled its Roe. v. Wade decision, more than a dozen states banned nearly all abortion procedures. But in every referendum on the issue since the court's decision voters have resoundingly voted in favor of abortion rights.

Harris took a victory lap in November the day after Ohio voted for constitutional protections for abortion access, answering reporters' questions in the White House driveway.

"Last night, I think the American people made clear that they are prepared to stand for freedom and for the individual freedoms and the promise of freedom in America and by extension, was a good night for democracy," Harris said then.

"I think that if you look at from the midterms to last night, from California to Kansas, Ohio to Virginia, the voters said, 'Look, the government should not be telling a woman what to do with her body,'" she added. "And so it was a good night and the president and I obviously have a lot of work to do to earn our reelection, but I'm confident we're gonna win."

MORE: ABC News gets rare access to VP Kamala Harris as she hits the 2024 campaign trail

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Mary Bruce asked the vice president in an exclusive interview last week, "What can you realistically promise the American people you would do to protect these reproductive rights?"

"Well, we're gonna continue to do what we've been doing," Harris said. "And so that includes what we're doing through the court system, what we're doing to ensure emergency care and protection for all people in terms of access to emergency care, what we're doing to protect access to contraception is another big piece of this."

In a memo to supporters on Friday, Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said the campaign will continue to hammer Trump until Election Day in hopes of repeating Democrats' recent victories on abortion.

"With all this in mind, the Biden-Harris Campaign will be spending the next ten months highlighting the impact that Donald Trump's abortion bans in the states are having on women and providers and reminding voters exactly what is at stake for reproductive freedom in 2024," Rodriguez wrote.

ABC News' Selina Wang, Karen Travers, Arthur Jones and Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.

Biden, at abortion rights campaign rally, repeatedly interrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters originally appeared on abcnews.go.com