Joe Biden will argue that Donald Trump cannot quell the violent unrest that has roiled American cities because he has played a central role in instigating it, in an attempt to counter the president’s “law and order” campaign message.
Mr Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, is due to deliver a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Monday, in which he will accuse Mr Trump of “multiplying” recent crises, including the coronavirus pandemic and the violence at anti-racism protests since George Floyd was killed by a police officer in late May.
Mr Biden’s remarks come after two protesters were shot dead in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week, and a shooting in Portland, Oregon, over the weekend in which one person was killed amid clashes between Trump supporters, protesters and police. Mr Trump is set to visit Kenosha on Tuesday.
“This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country,” Mr Biden will say, according to an excerpt of his remarks.
“He can’t stop the violence — because for years he has fomented it. 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 will also accuse of Mr Trump mishandling the pandemic, accusing the president of being a leader “who sows chaos rather than providing order”.
Mr Trump has made stamping out unrest a central theme of his re-election campaign, as he tries to paint Mr Biden as soft on crime and convince voters that he can restore order to large cities run chiefly by Democrats.
Mr Trump said on Monday morning he still intends to visit Kenosha despite calls from Tony Evers, the state’s Democratic governor, to cancel his trip, warning that presence of the US president there could escalate the unrest. The Democratic mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian, told NPR that he would prefer the president not visit the city “at this point in time”.
In an appearance on Monday morning’s Fox & Friends on the Fox News channel, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Mr Trump did not intend to change his plans.
“This president will go to Kenosha, Wisconsin. He loves the people of Wisconsin, and he looks forward to speaking directly to them and unifying the state,” Ms McEnany said.
She added that the administration had “not been able to connect yet” with the family of Jacob Blake, the black man who was paralysed after being shot multiple times by a police officer in Kenosha last week, which touched off the protests.
In tweets on Monday, Mr Trump said his actions had spared the small Midwestern city from a higher death toll, and accused local Democratic officials of having “lost control” of their own supporters.
He has also been highly critical of Ted Wheeler, the Democratic mayor of Portland, where protesters and law enforcement officers have been squaring off all summer in increasingly tense encounters.
“Portland is a mess, and it has been for many years. If this joke of a mayor doesn’t clean it up, we will go in and do it for them!” Mr Trump tweeted.
He added: “The Radical Left Mayors & Governors of Cities where this crazy violence is taking place have lost control of their “Movement”. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but the Anarchists & Agitators got carried away and don’t listen anymore — even forced Slow Joe out of basement!”