Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Monday strongly condemned recent outbreaks of violence in American cities and laid the blame squarely on President Trump's desk, accusing him of "stoking violence" and calling him a "toxic presence."
In a speech in Pittsburgh, Biden sought to undermine a major argument from the Trump campaign that the former vice president is apathetic at best about violence ravaging American cities and businesses.
"Fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames, rather than fighting the flames," Biden said in his speech. "But we must not burn. We have to build. This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can't stop the violence because for years he's fomented it."
Biden launched his campaign in 2019 with a video about the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, from a white nationalist rally. Now, violent demonstrations have broken out in several cities across the country, as peaceful protests over racial injustices and police brutality continue.
One person was shot and killed over the weekend after a confrontation between a caravan of Trump supporters in vehicles and counter-protesters in Portland, Oregon. The deadly clash came days after two protesters werein Kenosha, Wisconsin, allegedly by a 17-year-old who now faces murder charges. Kenosha has been the site of continuing protests and clashes since a police officer seven times in the back. Blake, who is Black, remains hospitalized and is partially paralyzed.
Mr. Trump ison Tuesday over the objections of Wisconsin's Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who said he is "concerned about what [the president's] presence will mean for Kenosha and our state."
On Sunday, Biden released a statement condemning the violence in Portland, and accused Mr. Trump of "recklessly encouraging violence." In his speech on Monday, Biden emphasized the need for justice and peace, simultaneously. The Trump campaign has leveled the accusation that Biden isn't condemning violence, and would allow it to continue under his watch. But Biden repeatedly pointed out that the violence the nation is seeing is happening under Donald Trump's watch.
"Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?" Biden said. "We need justice in America. And we need safety in America."
The former vice president also highlighted the nation is facing multiple crises at once.
"COVID. Economic devastation. Unwarranted police violence. Emboldened white nationalists. A reckoning on race. Declining faith in a bright American future. The common thread? An incumbent president who makes things worse, not better," Biden said. "An incumbent president who sows chaos rather than providing order."
The "road back begins now," Biden said, adding that people know him, his heart and his family's story.
"Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist, with a soft spot for rioters? Really?" he said, responding to the Trump campaign's portrayal of him as a radical leftist who is soft on crime.
"Donald Trump 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 said.
The former vice president took no questions as he exited from his speech.
"I want a safe America, safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting. Safer from racially violence, safe from bad cops. Let me be crystal clear. Safe from four more years of Donald Trump," Biden said.
The Trump campaign responded to Biden's speech by saying he wasn't specific enough in his condemnation.
"As predicted, Joe Biden today failed to condemn the left-wing mobs burning, looting, and terrorizing American cities. He failed to condemn Antifa," Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said. "He failed to condemn people who called the police a 'cancer' or people on his campaign staff who called them 'pigs.'"