Updated Aug 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden: Trump is "rooting for chaos"

Joe Biden on Monday gave his most forceful counterargument to President Trump on the issue of law and order, arguing in Pittsburgh there would be more violence in America if the president is re-elected.

What he's saying: "You know me. You know my heart. You know my story. Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really? I want a safe America," Biden said.

  • "He's supposed to be protecting this country, but instead he’s rooting for chaos and violence. The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America, so now he’s trying to scare America."

Why it matters: Biden turned Trump's accusation that the country can't feel safe with Biden in charge back on the president — with a clinical reminder that: "These are not images of some imagined Joe Biden's America of the future. These are images of Donald Trump's America today."

  • Trump continues to claim that cities run by Democrats are less safe. His re-election campaign has put out ads that say, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” and falsely claim that Biden supports defunding the police.

Between the lines: Biden is not in an ideal position. He's been forced out onto the physical campaign trail because Trump and his Republican allies continue to dominate the narrative on safety and policing under a Democratic administration, with Biden so far leaving the accusations largely untouched.

  • But his speech set the tone for how he and Democrats will more forcefully counter the GOP on this issue.
  • "I want to be very clear: 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.

The big picture: It's rare for Biden to do an in-person event in the COVID-era, but that reiterates the campaign's desire to rebuke Trump.

  • Biden's measured tone grew more forceful when reiterating certain points to correct the record about how candidacy: "I am not banning fracking," he said at one point. "Let me say that again: I am not banning fracking, no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me."
  • He also listed exactly what he wants to keep America safe from — the coronavirus pandemic, "bad cops," looting, rioting, and "four more years of Donald Trump."
  • "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," Biden added.

The bottom line: "Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?" Biden asked in one of the speech's most memorable lines.

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