WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday issued a stinging rebuke to President Donald Trump‘s false accusations that the Democratic nominee is anti-law enforcement, or that he condones violence that has erupted in cities like Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon. 

“Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?” mentioned Biden, a part of a broader argument he made that the president himself is a contributing issue to the unrest and racial strife that has roiled the nation this summer season.

Property harm and clashes with police in a number of giant cities have adopted peaceable demonstrations opposing police brutality in opposition to Black individuals, which have been triggered by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May. The newest police capturing of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, occurred in Kenosha earlier this month, sparking protests and counterprotests there. 

“Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting, it’s lawlessness, plain and simple,” mentioned Biden. “And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change. It will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way.”

Democratic presidential nominee former US Vice President Joe Biden speaks throughout a marketing campaign occasion at Mill 19 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 31, 2020.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

The speech was Biden’s most direct rebuttal to this point of Trump’s and the GOP’s assaults final week through the digital Republican National Convention. 

“Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters?” Biden mentioned, dismissing false claims just like the one Trump made final week, when he mentioned Biden was a “Trojan horse for socialism.” 

“I want a safe America. Safe from Covid. Safe from crime and looting, safe from racially-motivated violence, safe from bad cops. Let me be crystal clear. Safe from four more years of Donald Trump,” mentioned Biden. “The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America, so now he’s trying to scare America.” 

On Tuesday, Trump will journey to Kenosha, the place he plans to fulfill with regulation enforcement. As of Monday afternoon, the president didn’t plan to fulfill with the household of Jacob Blake, who was shot within the again seven occasions by a police officer in entrance of his kids.

Democrats have criticized Trump’s go to as a divisive stunt throughout a time when tensions between regulation enforcement and Kenosha’s Black group are particularly uncooked. White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany mentioned Monday that Trump was going partly to “visit hurting Americans,” but additionally for a extra overtly political motive: “Highlighting that the federal government has done a lot in the way of using law and order to create peace,” she mentioned.

Biden’s 30-minute formal speech, delivered on location in Pittsburgh, represents a concerted effort to shift the main focus of the election again right into a referendum on Trump, and on the president’s management of the nation over the previous 3½ years, particularly through the previous six months of the coronavirus pandemic.

Political strategists on either side of the aisle have acknowledged that if November’s election is a referendum on Trump, then the president could have a really troublesome time getting reelected. But if Trump can handle to shift the main focus of the race to Biden, then the president’s odds enhance. 

Biden, like Trump, is aware of this dynamic. In Pittsburgh, he accused Trump of resorting to worry mongering as a result of extra conventional reelection pitches would not work in his favor.

“The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now, he’s trying to scare America,” mentioned Biden.

“Since Donald Trump and Mike Pence can’t run on their record that has seen more American deaths to a virus than this nation suffered in every war since Korea combined. … Since they can’t run on their economy that has seen more people lose their jobs than at any time since the Great Depression. … Since they can’t run on the simple proposition of sending our children safely back to school. … And since they have no agenda or vision for a second term Trump and Pence are running on this: ‘You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.’ And what’s their proof? The violence you’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.”

“These are not images from some imagined ‘Joe Biden’s America’ in the future,” Biden continued. “These are images from Donald Trump’s America today. He keeps telling you if only he was president it wouldn’t happen. He keeps telling us if he was president you would feel safe. Well – he is president. And it is happening. And you don’t.”

For Biden, there’s a lot driving on whether or not or not his argument about security resonates with voters. 

After main Trump in polls by important margins for greater than a 12 months, the presidential race seems to have tightened previously a number of days. It’s a shift pushed partly by Trump’s hammering of a “law and order” message that distorts each Biden’s positions and the character of the social justice protests this summer season.

But it additionally doubtless displays public nervousness within the wake of two killings — the double murder of two protesters in Kenosha allegedly by a 17-year-old vigilante, and the capturing of a person at a Trump assist demonstration in Portland, Oregon.

While Biden has led Trump total in nationwide polls, Trump polled four factors higher than Biden this month on the query of who voters belief most to take care of crime, 43-39, in response to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal ballot.

Following Biden’s speech, the Trump marketing campaign claimed that Biden had “failed to condemn the left-wing mobs burning, looting, and terrorizing American cities.”