Joe Biden will assail President Donald Trump’s leadership in some of the starkest language yet on Monday, accusing him of fomenting violence that has spawned across the country in recent weeks.
The Democratic nominee will deliver a speech Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh in the furthest public campaign trip from his home in Delaware since the pandemic began. In it, he will counter the Republicans’ convention theme that no one is “safe in Joe Biden’s America,” warning the American people that they are unsafe in a country led by Trump.
“This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country,” Biden will say, according to excerpts released by his campaign. “He can’t stop the violence – because for years he has fomented it.”
Biden’s speech comes as unrest sweeps across the U.S. from Portland, Oregon, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in a country dealing with cascading crises, including the coronavirus pandemic, police shootings, a crashed economy and natural disasters.
Jason Miller, an adviser to the Trump campaign, dismissed Biden’s speech. “You’re not going to hear anything from Biden or any sort of plan to stop the violence we’re seeing in the streets,” Miller said on a call with reporters. “All you will hear today is empty talk, just like Biden has been doing for 47 years.”
In the months since George Floyd, a Black man, was killed June 25 by police in Minneapolis, Americans have been protesting police brutality in largely peaceful gatherings that have, at times, been overshadowed by looting and violence. Trump and his allies have blamed Biden and Democratic mayors and governors for the violence.
“He may believe mouthing the words, ‘law and order’ makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows you how weak he is,” Biden will say in a speech delivered before an audience of reporters and staff only. Biden has tried to minimize crowds to avoid spreading Covid-19.
But Biden also wants to signal that he is out on the campaign trail after taking a week off while the Republican National Convention last week made a strong pitch that he was soft on crime.
On Saturday, a caravan of pro-Trump supporters drove through downtown Portland, shooting paintballs and throwing objects at those protesting police violence. A man affiliated with a right-wing group was shot and killed during the protests. The death came after a 17-year-old was charged in connection with the death of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by a White police officer, leaving him paralyzed below the waist and prompting a new wave of protests nationwide.
Biden has supported the protests while unequivocally condemning the violence and looting, issuing a statement on Sunday saying, “I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right.”
He has also tried to correct Trump’s false claims that Biden supports calls to defund police departments.
Biden will aggressively hit back at the narrative on Monday.
“Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?” his prepared remarks say
Biden had considered visiting Kenosha on Monday, but the campaign decided against the trip after Trump announced he was going on Tuesday. State Democratic leaders have urged Trump to reconsider, warning him his presence could exacerbate the divisions in the city and divert public safety resources.
In choosing Pittsburgh, the Democratic nominee will return to the city where he made his first campaign stop in April 2019 at a union hall. It’s also the city where an anti-Semitic gunman killed 11 people at a synagogue in October 2018, the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the U.S.
— With assistance by Jennifer Epstein
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