PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Joe Biden is mounting a more aggressive offense against President Donald Trump with a rare public appearance Monday where he will say that a second term for Trump will mean more violence in America’s streets — not less.
“Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?” Biden’s speech in Pittsburgh said. “We need justice in America. And we need safety in America. We are facing multiple crises – crises that, under Donald Trump, keep multiplying.”
The speech marks a new phase of the campaign as Biden steps up his travel after largely remaining near his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And after centering his candidacy on Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, Biden is making a broader push to argue that Americans won’t be safe if he wins reelection. That’s an effort to blunt Trump’s “law and order” message, which the president is emphasizing as some protests against racial injustice have become violent.
While Biden blamed the violence on President Trump, he also condemned it, saying, “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting.”
WATCH: KDKA political editor Jon Delano talks one-on-one interview with Biden
The Democratic presidential nominee accused President Trump of fanning the flames instead of fighting them. He also accused the president of long ago forfeiting “any moral leadership in this country. He can’t stop the violence — because for years he has fomented it.”
Biden said the violence now isn’t what America would look like under him, but what America already looks like under President 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 said.
When KDKA political editor Jon Delano asked Biden about the repeated charge that he wants to defund the police, Biden said, “let’s get the facts straight.”
“I not only don’t want to defund the police, I want to add $300 million to their local budgets to deal with community policing to get police and communities back together again.”
Biden is seeking to cast recent protests as the Trump administration’s problem. Trump and Republicans are highlighting violence at protests as examples of what the country will look like under a Biden administration.
“When he talks about Joe Biden’s America, he’s acting as if he’s in a spaceship. I mean, he is the president of the United States. When I was the vice president and Obama was the president, we reduced violent crime by 15 percent,” said Biden.
- President Trump To Make Campaign Appearance In Latrobe On Thursday
- Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden To Make Visit To Pittsburgh
- President Trump Critical Of Joe Biden After Announcement Of Planned Visit To Southwestern Pa.
- Vice President Mike Pence To Visit Pennsylvania For ‘Workers For Trump’ Rally
When asked about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, Biden says he doesn’t think America is full of racists.
“But I do think there is racism that has to be dealt with. It’s a very small minority of people,” he said.
Biden’s campaign says he will offer a different vision for a better future.
The former vice president also made sure to emphasize that he won’t ban fracking.
“I am not banning fracking,” he said. “Let me say that again: I am not banning fracking, no matter how much Donald Trump lies about me.”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald supports Biden. Fitzgerald recently posted on social media about Biden’s first visit to Pennsylvania.
Fitzgerald says “Biden knows & cares about us. And when he’s President, he’ll focus on jobs, infrastructure and health care.”
Conventions are over, the election is in full swing — & @JoeBiden's first visit is to southwestern PA, where he kicked off his campaign.
He knows & cares about us. And when he's President, he'll focus on jobs, infrastructure, health care — all the things that matter to us most. https://t.co/CUm0WO8cP5
— Rich Fitzgerald (@votefitz) August 31, 2020
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, the National Guard was deployed to quell demonstrations in response to a police shooting of a Black man that have resulted in looting, vandalism and the shooting deaths of two protesters.
And this weekend, one of Trump’s supporters was shot at a demonstration in Portland, Oregon, prompting multiple tweets from Trump himself, including one late Sunday erroneously accusing Biden of failing to criticize the “agitators” at the protests.
“We are facing multiple crises — crises that, under Donald Trump, keep multiplying. COVID. Economic devastation. Unwarranted police violence. Emboldened white nationalists. A reckoning on race,” Biden said. “Declining faith in a bright American future. The common thread? An incumbent president who makes things worse, not better.”
The former vice president echoed a similar sentiment in a statement on Sunday, denouncing the violent acts.
“I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same,” he said in the statement.
Portland has seen nearly 100 consecutive nights of Black Lives Matter protests and many have ended with vandalism to federal and city property.
Trump and other speakers at last week’s Republican National Convention frequently highlighted incidents of violence at protests that were sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last May, charging that if Biden is elected in November such incidents will become the norm.
Biden has repeatedly denounced violence at these protests, and last week accused Trump of viewing the violence as a “political benefit.”
“He’s rooting for more violence, not less. And it’s clear about that,” he said.
President Trump took to Twitter to give his thoughts on Biden’s visit to Pittsburgh saying that the former vice president has no choice but to go to the area because his poll numbers are “plunging”.
Joe Biden is coming out of the basement earlier than his hoped for ten days because his people told him he has no choice, his poll numbers are PLUNGING! Going to Pittsburgh, where I have helped industry to a record last year, & then back to his basement for an extended period…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2020
However, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted after the end of the Republican National Convention indicates that Biden’s approval rating remained basically the same.
(TM and © Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)