PITTSBURGH — Democratic nominee Joe Biden hit the campaign trail for the first time since March on Monday in Pittsburgh as he condemned the violence in Kenosha, Wisc., and Portland, Ore while blaming President Donald Trump for the unrest across the country.
The speech marks a change for Mr. Biden’s campaign, who had to shift course after originally scheduled to get back on the campaign trail after the Labor Day holiday next week. After centering much of his campaign on Mr. Trump’s poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the former Vice President is making a push to argue that Americans won’t be safe if President Trump wins re-election.
“He doesn’t want to shed light, he wants to generate heat, and he’s stoking violence in our cities,” Biden said. “He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it.”
Mr. Biden went on to condemn the violence breaking out in Kenosha and Portland, which has included rioting, looting, and arson.
“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted,” Biden said. “Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”
Mr. Trump needs to win back white voters in the suburbs and has attacked the former Vice President in the past week by saying Americans will not be safe if Mr. Biden wins the election in November.
“You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden responded. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”
Mr. Biden hit out at the president directly for trying to use fear to drive voters to the ballot box to win re-election.
“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,” said Biden. “The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America, so now he’s trying to scare America.”
Mr. Trump has called himself the “President of law and order” while he and his allies painted a dark picture during last week’s Republican National Convention that America under Biden would lead to more violence and unrest.
The former Vice President then hit out at the president and rebuked his “law and order” theme while saying he is coming across as weak.
“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.”
Mr. Biden touted his own political record as he reminded voters of the efforts of former President Barack Obama’s administration to come out of a depression during the 2009 economic collapse.
Monday marked a return to the campaign trail for Mr. Biden, who is expected to visit Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Minnesota in the coming weeks. His campaign said on Monday he may visit Kenosha as soon as this week.