Biden went first. In a major speech in Pittsburgh, he offered a sweeping indictment against Trump’s America, highlighting errors in dealing with the coronavirus and portraying the president as so desperate to stay in power that he is using fear and hatred as a campaign strategy.
“He keeps telling us that if he were president you would feel safe. Well, he’s president whether he knows it or not, ”said Biden. “Does anyone think that there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?”
After Trump claimed for days that Biden was a tool of a radical movement that sows discord in American cities, Biden tried to put the president on his heels. Biden urged Trump to denounce all forms of violence and accused him of stirring up riots with streams of tweets, including some that appeared to support confrontations on the streets.
“The way back begins now in this campaign. You know me. You know my heart and you know my story, the story of my family, ”Biden said in the speech, which was broadcast live on multiple cable networks. “Ask yourself: do I look to you like a radical socialist with a weakness for rioters? Really?”
He added, “I want a safe America – safe from Covid, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops. And let’s be crystal clear: Safe from Donald Trump four more years ago.”
Biden spoke the night before of Trump’s Tuesday trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where fatal clashes and destruction took place following the shooting of Jacob Blake last week. The president plans to meet with police officers and ignore Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ request to stay away so Trump doesn’t add to tensions.
Trump made a name for himself for calming Kenosha, even though it was Evers who originally set up the National Guard. However, some local Democrats have complained that it took Biden too long to denounce the violence. They fear that Trump’s law-and-order message could swing voters who want to end the chaos.
But Trump appeared to be ceding any ground he might have gained by turning to social media and not only refused to condemn the violence of some of his own supporters, but also tweeted a video of his followers attacking protesters. His spokesman later said he hadn’t seen it.
In his speech, Biden dared the President to reject the violence committed by his own supporters. But hours later, during a briefing at the White House, Trump refused to do so, even when asked if his supporters would shoot pepper spray and paint bullets on protesters.
Biden’s Monday speech picked up Trump directly, as the Democrat had not done during his congressional speech two weeks ago when he failed to pronounce the president’s name. The Democrat called Trump by name and insisted the president own the violence in Kenosha, Portland and other American cities after four years of escalating racial tensions. In doing so, he also defended the Obama administration’s records of crime.
After months of test drives to brand Biden, Trump and his allies decided to paint him as an ignorant instrument of socialists and left radicals. They say Biden is too clueless to understand he is being exploited and too weak to defy their orthodoxy on the rare occasions when he does.
But every time Trump tried to tag Biden, the Democrat has come up with the upper hand and his lead in polls has grown.
The run-ins follow a familiar pattern. Trump insisted that Biden could not defy the growing demands of the left to defuse the police. In response, Biden said he was not only against defusing the police, but wanted to spend more on law enforcement. Trump said Biden supported the hydraulic break ban. Biden clearly said he doesn’t.
And Trump has repeatedly reverted to the idea that Biden would refuse to condemn riots so as not to offend liberal voters. But Biden has repeatedly denounced the people who get upset, loot and set fire to property.
“None of this is protesting – it’s lawlessness, plain and simple,” Biden said on Monday.
When Trump later stood on the podium in the White House, he tried to hold Biden and his party responsible for the violent cities. But Trump refused to condemn all actors contributing to the chaos, including right-wing supporters of his campaign. He said the men who carried paintball guns used the substance as a “defense mechanism”.
“Color is not a sphere,” he said.
When asked about Kyle Rittenhouse – the 17-year-old who was charged with five crimes after shooting three people, two fatally in Kenosha last week – Trump said Rittenhouse was attacked so badly that he could have been killed.
“You saw the same tape as me and he was trying to get away,” Trump said. “It’s being investigated, but I think he had big problems. He would probably have been killed. ”
Rittenhouse was charged as an adult on two first degree murders and one attempted murder.
Trump also said he refused to meet with Blake’s family because he was uncomfortable with the request to have lawyers present.
Trump has been very critical of Biden for not having visited Wisconsin. Amid the pandemic, Biden moved his acceptance speech from Milwaukee to Wilmington, Delaware, citing safety concerns.
“Joe Biden refused to go to Wisconsin for over 670 days, so it should come as no surprise that he refuses to visit Badger State and deal with the ongoing unrest and violence,” said Samantha Zager, spokeswoman for the Trump campaign he would actually start promoting the president. It is clear that Biden prefers to hide from his failed records and the Democrats’ failure to protect our cities. “
Biden is preparing for a more stable itinerary after Labor Day but could visit Wisconsin later this week, according to the campaign.