In his first visit to Pittsburgh since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden asked a simple question: “Do you feel safe in Donald Trump’s America?” While Biden denounced the violence that has marked some protests nationwide this summer, he also blamed President Donald Trump for fomenting, and seeking political advantage from, crises afflicting the country.
“We have to stand against violence in every form it takes,” Biden said Monday, addressing recent killings or serious injuries of Black people by police officers. “Violence that we’ve seen again, and again and again, of unwarranted police shooting, excessive force: 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.”
But Biden also condemned looting and rioting that has taken place this summer, as well as the violence allegedly perpetrated by a member of a local militia in Kenosha, Wisconsin that left two people dead and injured a third person at a protest following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer last week.
“Rioting is not protesting, looting is not protesting, setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said, adding that as president he would bring both protesters and law enforcement to the table.
“I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and dreams of small businesses being destroyed and the opportunities for real progress on race and police reform,” Biden said. “Donald Trump looks at this violence and he sees a political lifeline.”
Biden said Trump was seeking to shift attention from Trump's own policy failures, beginning with the White House's failure to contain the coronavirus but including threats to Social Security and healthcare protections under the Affordable Care Act.
Throughout Biden’s speech, which was held at Hazelwood Green’s Mill 19, the Democrat repeatedly asked Americans: Do you feel safe in Trump’s America? Biden cited rising crime statistics and the more than 180,000 Americans who have been killed by the coronavirus under President Trump.
“[Trump] keeps telling us if he was president, you’d feel safe,” Biden said. “Well, he is president.”
Biden also addressed the economic fears of millions of Americans out of work and worried about paying rent and feeding their families, by touting his Build Back Better plan, which would put people back to work while investing in renewable energy.
But Biden was clear that such a plan would not ban fracking, a form of natural gas drilling used in swaths of Pennsylvania, as suggested by opponents.
“I am not banning fracking,” he said. “No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”
In a statement following Biden’s speech, the Trump campaign said the Democrat “failed to condemn the left-wing mobs burning, looting and terrorizing American cities,” said Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the campaign. “These left-wing rioters are Joe Biden supporters trashing cities run by Democrats who support his candidacy. He has repeatedly given them cover by excusing their violence by calling them ‘peaceful protestors’ and accusing law enforcement of ‘stoking the fires of division.’ You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
Soon after Biden’s speech ended, Trump weighed in on Twitter.
Just watched what Biden had to say. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2020
Biden's speech sought to preempt such attacks, asking voters if he looked “like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters. Really? I want a safe America. Safe from crime and looting … safe from four more years of Donald Trump.”
But President Trump will have an opportunity to expand on that criticism: On Monday he announced plans to make a campaign stop of his own in Latrobe, Pa. on Thursday.