President Donald Trump claims the mantle of law and order candidate and offers himself as the leader best positioned to keep Americans safe the day after Democratic rival Joe Biden attacked him over the deadly protests that showed up on his watch.
Trump dips headfirst into the recent outbreak of national reckoning on racial injustice, traveling on Tuesday – via objections from local leaders – to Kenosha, Wisconsin, which has been ravaged by protests since the shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23. a black man, seven times behind the police. Trump has defended a youth supporter accused of fatally shooting two men in Kenosha last week and accused the former vice president of advocating for "anarchists" and "rioters".
Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who used the National Guard to quell demonstrations in response to the Blake shooting, asked Trump to stay away for fear of adding to the tension. The White House said the president is expected to meet law enforcement and "look over property affected by the recent riots."
"I am concerned that your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned that your presence will only delay our work to overcome the division and progress together," Evers wrote in a letter to Trump.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers spoke at a news conference Thursday about the riots in Kenosha, the day after police arrested a 17-year-old for shooting racial justice protesters. Evers was accompanied by the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin and the National Guard as they discussed maintaining peaceful protests.
Trump insisted that his appearance could "increase" excitement in Wisconsin, perhaps the most competitive battlefield state in the presidential race, as the White House said he wanted to "visit injured Americans." He was expected to have called up the National Guard – an act by Evers – and urged federal law enforcement into the city to restore peace. The White House said Trump would not meet with Blake's family.
"I'm a big law enforcement fan and want to say thank you to law enforcement," Trump said Monday night in an interview with Fox News. "You did a good job."
Trump suggested that some police officers "choke" in challenging situations and compare them to golfers "missing a 3-foot putt".
In his most direct attacks to date on Monday, Biden accused Trump of causing the divisions that sparked the violence. He gave an unusually blistering speech in Pittsburgh and distanced himself from radical forces involved in arguments.
At a press conference on Thursday, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes information on Jacob Blake's recovery and ongoing protests against racial justice. Barnes also briefed on the armed militia that has arrived in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Biden said of Trump: "He does not want to shed any light on the darkness, he wants to generate warmth and he stirs up violence in our cities. He cannot stop the violence because he has stoked it for years."
For his part, Trump reiterated that he was accusing radical troublemakers who were stirred up and supported by Biden. However, when asked about one of his own supporters who was accused of killing two men during the Kenosha mayhem, Trump declined to denounce the murders, suggesting that 17-year-old suspect Kyle Rittenhouse acted in self-defense .
After a confrontation in which police said he fatally shot a man, Rittenhouse fell while he was followed by people who tried to disarm him. A second person was shot dead.
"That was an interesting situation," said Trump on Monday during a press conference on Monday. "He tried to get away from them, I think it looks like he fell. And then they attacked him very badly. … He had big problems. It would have been him – it probably would have been you. " killed. "
President Donald Trump discussed law enforcement decisions in a split second where he said, "Sometimes they choke," and that's what gets all the attention, but the "tens of thousands of great things they do, no one covers that. "
Biden saw Trump's impact very differently, accusing the president of "poisoning" the nation's values.
In a statement following Trump's press conference, but before his Fox News remarks, Biden said: "Tonight the president declined to reprimand violence. He would not even turn away any of his supporters who are charged with murder for assaulting others . He is too weak, too afraid of the hatred he has aroused, to put an end to it. "
Trump and his campaign team have taken up the riots in Kenosha and Portland, Oregon, where a Trump supporter was shot. Leaning hard on the defense of law and order, he suggested that Biden be committed to extremists. Trump's aides believe that a criminal stance will help him with the electorate and that the more the national discourse revolves around something other than the coronavirus, the better it is for the president.
Speaking to Fox, Trump insisted that if he were not a president, "you would have unrest like you've never seen it before".
In Pittsburgh, Biden strongly condemned violent protesters and called for prosecution – a major criticism from Trump.
"It's just plain lawlessness. And those who do it should be prosecuted," Biden said. And he drew on his 47-year career in politics to defend himself against Republican attack.
"You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, the story of my family," he said. "Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?"
The former vice president also tried to focus the race on what defined it – Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic that killed more than 180,000 Americans – after the president's team attacked for several days to oppose the campaign the rattling American violence start cities.
President Trump and Joe Biden are preparing to return to the campaign after a weekend of protests. Biden will address in Pittsburgh on Monday, while the president will bring his message of law and order to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. The president's planned visit, which does not include a meeting with Jacob Blake's family, comes despite requests from the governor and mayor to stay away.
Concerned Democrats, including some within his own campaign, have pushed Biden to address the violence directly and in greater depth, despite previously condemning it. After Trump raised the issue in his Congressional speech, which was followed by more bloodshed over the weekend, many in Biden's party, still shocked by the 2016 defeat, pushed Biden, the rare issue that broke the National, one step ahead to be focus on the pandemic.
Biden stated that while Trump is "trying to scare America", Trump's fear is really causing the nation's fear.
"You want to talk about fear? They are afraid that they will get COVID, they are afraid that they will get sick and die," said Biden.
Weissert reported from Pittsburgh. Associate press writer Jonathan Lemire of New York contributed to this report.