Donald Trump will accuse Joe Biden, his Democratic presidential rival, of being soft on crime in a speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday evening, as he addresses the unrest that has erupted in Wisconsin following the latest police shooting of a black man.

The president would use his address from the White House to “go after Joe Biden for his radical leftwing agenda” and his stance on crime, Mr Trump’s campaign said. A spokesperson added that he would “talk about the unrest” in cities from Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Minneapolis, Portland and Seattle.

Two months out from the election, Mr Trump is turning to the “law and order” message that helped propel him to victory in 2016, and that he used to more mixed success in the 2018 congressional midterm elections.

The final stretch of the race comes as millions of Americans protest more loudly about systemic racism in the US, and as Mr Trump trails Mr Biden in national polls and most of the swing states that will be key in November.

Over the first three days of the convention, Republicans accused Democrats of refusing to condemn the protests sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, and the earlier death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The attacks came after the Democrats used their convention last week to blame Mr Trump for inciting violence by supporting white nationalists while criticising the Black Lives Matter movement.

In his speech on Wednesday, Mike Pence, vice-president, accused Mr Biden of failing to support the police. While Democrats have voiced support for Black Lives Matter, Mr Trump’s base has been more supportive of Blue Lives Matter — a counter movement that rejects suggestions that the deaths of black men at the hands of the police is the result of systemic racism.

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“The hard truth is . . . you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Mr Pence said on Wednesday. “Under president Trump, we will stand with those who stand on the Thin Blue Line and we’re not going to defund the police.”

In an speech accepting his party’s presidential nomination from the White House on Thursday evening, Mr Trump is expected to say that Americans have never “faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas”.

Kellyanne Conway, a top White House political adviser, told Fox New on Thursday that continued unrest in American cities would help Mr Trump make the case that he was tougher on law and order than his opponent.

“The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety, and law and order,” said Ms Conway, who will soon step down from her position.

Mr Biden hit back at the Republican attacks in an interview with MSNBC television, in which he said the unrest was occurring in “Donald Trump’s America”.

He added that it was “amazing” that Mr Trump had not spoken about the reasons underpinning the protests in Kenosha, where a 17-year-old white male was arrested on Wednesday in connection with two fatal shootings near the demonstrations.

Line chart showing how Trump and Biden are doing in the US national polls

“He just keeps pouring fuel on the fire. He’s encouraging this. He’s not diminishing it at all. This is his America now,” Mr Biden said. “If we want to end where we are now, we’ve got to end his tenure.”

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Mr Biden has also said he does not endorse the view of some Democrats that funding for police departments should be reduced, while urging protesters to demonstrate peacefully against police brutality.

Mr Trump is expected to speak at 10.30pm in Washington. He will be preceded by a big cast of Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, and Tom Cotton, an Arkansas senator who is widely believed to be considering a run for president in 2024.

Ivanka Trump, his daughter, and Dana White, head of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, will also address the convention on the final evening of the four-night event, as will Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City.

Follow Demetri on Twitter: @dimi


Via Financial Times