Conservatives ripped President Biden’s choice of Washington’s Union Station as the venue for one of his final pre-midterm speeches, deriding it as a “ghost town” frequented by “yelling psychos,” homeless people and drug addicts.
The station, which opened in 1907, is best known as the headquarters of Amtrak as well as the southern terminus of its main Northeast Corridor line from Boston via New York and Philadelphia
However, the statue-filled and marble-covered transit hub has fallen on hard times since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, with many stores in the terminal and adjacent shopping mall shuttering and never reopening.
“President Biden plans to deliver an address Tuesday night from Union Station in DC,” Washington Times national politics correspondent Susan Ferrechio tweeted Wednesday morning, sharing a photo of vacant storefronts below the station’s elegant coffered ceilings. “This once-thriving shopping center is now practically a ghost town. I took this photo of empty stores on Saturday.”
In August, Starbucks announced it was closing its location inside Union Station due to rising crime and drug use inside the store.
“After careful consideration, we are closing some stores in locations that have experienced a high volume of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate, to open new locations with safer conditions,” a Starbucks spokesperson told Business Insider at the time.
J.P. Freire, a GOP staffer for the House Ways and Means Committee, tweeted on Wednesday that along with the closed Starbucks, travelers and shoppers must also deal with being “chased and hounded by unwell people” that have set up tent cities around the building.
“The Union Station Starbucks — long a staple for weary travelers — had to close earlier this month due to ‘concerning incidents’ (crime),” he wrote. “Encampments of tents litter the nearby blocks, and customers of the remaining stores find themselves chased and hounded by unwell people.”
Some on social media wondered if the Biden administration would shield the president, speech attendees, and TV viewers from the well-known realities of the area around the station.
“Very curious if they’ll clear out the yelling psychos or drug users from Union Station before he arrives” conservative commentator Katie Pavlich wrote on Twitter in response to the news of Biden’s speech.
“I’m guessing only because it’s election week, but DC cleared the tent city from in front of Union Station and it actually looks nice,” Washington Free Beacon editor Brent Scher tweeted Wednesday morning, shortly before getting the news of Biden’s speech.
Most of the tents and homeless camps surrounding Union Station were cleared out over the summer, an effort undertaken by the National Parks Service. It’s unclear if any tents were specifically removed in preparation for Biden’s speech.
The commander-in-chief will speak at around 7 p.m. from Union Station’s Columbus Club, which can fit up to 350 people.
The last-minute appeal to midterm voters is expected to be about “preserving and protecting our democracy” and “the threat of election deniers and those who seek to undermine faith in voting and democracy,” according to the Democratic National Committee.