For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

After another week of deadly violence across America, Joe Biden issued a stern warning to voters: Violence is facing Americans on all fronts, and President Donald Trump is squarely to blame for it.

Biden hammered that theme in a speech he gave in Pittsburgh Monday afternoon. “We need justice in America, and we need safety in America,” Biden said, naming the pandemic, its attendant recession, police violence, and white nationalism. “The common thread? An incumbent president who makes things worse, not better. An incumbent president who sows chaos rather than providing order.”

Biden’s speech was prompted by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the murders of two protestors by a white supremacist as they took to the streets to demonstrate against the officer’s actions. As the violence unfolded, Trump had been tweeting demands for law and order. Over the weekend, he credited the return to calm in Kenosha with his decision to send in the National Guard—though Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers made the initial decision to call them in. All the while, Trump has mocked Biden and said that he’s soft on crime because “he can’t lose the Crazy Bernie Super Liberal Vote!”

Police violence and racial inequality took center stage for Biden’s attack on how the president’s rhetoric has made the country less safe. “Seven bullets in the back of Jacob Blake, a knee on the neck of George Floyd, the killing of Breonna Taylor—in her own apartment,” Biden said, listing the recent attacks that have spurred nationwide demands to the end of police brutality. But the former vice president also rebutted the president’s attacks. “Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters?” he asked. “I want a safe America—safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Friday that nationwide discontent boosted Trump’s reelection prospects. “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,” she told Fox and Friends

Biden has made the opposite bet, one that has fueled his campaign’s entire raison d’être. He premised his entrance into the Democratic presidential primary last April on the Trump’s response to the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he said there had been “some very fine people on both sides” of the violence. He repeated that logic at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month, saying that Charlottesville had been his “call to action.” After a racially-motivated mass shooting in El Paso last August left 23 dead, Biden hit those notes during a speech in Iowa. But the former vice president, who was officially named as the Democratic presidential nominee earlier this month, hasn’t yet had the chance to draw this particular contrast with Trump, in real-time, with the spotlight of the general election upon him.

Last spring, Trump began to distance himself from his response to Charlottesville after Biden entered the race with that message. After Biden spoke today, Trump instead doubled down on his law-and-order rhetoric. “To me, he’s blaming the Police far more than he’s blaming the Rioters, Anarchists, Agitators, and Looters, which he could never blame or he would lose the Radical Left Bernie supports!” Trump tweeted after Biden’s remarks.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate