Biden savors Trump’s latest attacks
President Trump escalated his attacks on Joe Biden on Monday, lashing out at his rival as protests and riots spilled into the streets and turned violent for the third straight night.
“Sleepy Joe Biden’s people are so Radical Left that they are working to get the Anarchists out of jail, and probably more,” Trump wrote in a Monday morning tweet. “Joe doesn’t know anything about it, he is clueless, but they will be the real power, not Joe. They will be calling the shots! Big tax increases for all, Plus!”
To Democrats, Trump’s tweet signaled a kind of desperation.
Trump has seen the former vice president surge in a number of national and swing state polls as views sour on his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Now, just as Trump was criticizing Biden for taking the votes of African Americans for granted, he has been accused of fomenting racial strife with a series of tweets starting early Friday morning that appeared to threaten those protesting the latest killing by police of an unarmed black man with violence.
“He’s clearly trying to do his usual move of stoking racial and political divisions for his own political gain to distract from his inaction on the pandemic, recession, and now the protests,” said Democratic strategist Eddie Vale. “The problem for him is it’s no longer 2016 and Americans have now lived through years of his failures and it’s a lot harder for him to keep blaming everyone else after declaring I alone can fix it.”
An ABC News-Washington Post poll out Sunday revealed that 53 percent of registered voters would vote for Biden while 43 percent said they would cast a ballot for Trump.
The poll — which was conducted before the protests began — also showed that Trump’s approval rating slipped from 48 percent in March to 45 percent.
One Republican strategist said Trump is “clearly worried about his standing.”
“Look, it’s been a rough time for the country these past couple of months,” the strategist said. “No one can tell you with a straight face that things are swell. They’re not. And it’s happening under his watch. That’s not what anyone wants on our side.”
Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing some of Trump’s tweets. One said that when the looting starts, the shooting starts, and seemed to vow military action against protesters in Minneapolis, where Floyd died last week after being detained by police. One of the officers, who has been charged with third-degree murder, held down Floyd with a knee on his neck for more than eight minutes.
After Trump’s tweets, protests exploded for another day, including outside the White House — which led Trump to warn about vicious dogs and ominous weapons awaiting anyone who jumped the fence.
Two more days of often violent protest followed in Washington, D.C. Buildings near the White House were set on fire and spray-painted with graffiti.
Trump reportedly was taken to the White House bunker on Friday night. On Sunday and Monday, he ripped Democratic governors for not taking firmer actions with demonstrators.
Biden appeared Monday to be seeking a contrast with Trump.
He met with African American community leaders in Wilmington, Del., and also hosted a virtual roundtable with mayors of cities who had been at the epicenter of the weekend’s chaos.
That followed an appearance he made over the weekend, when he visited one of the protest sites near his home in Delaware. Photos posted to his social media accounts show him taking to his knee while talking to a black man and child.
In a statement over the weekend, Biden said “protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response.
“But burning down communities and needless destruction is not,” he added, in the carefully worded statement that avoided mentioning “police.”
GOP strategist Shermichael Singleton said it is Trump seeking a contrast with Biden, and that the president’s embrace of law and order could help him.
“He’s trying to strike a contrast between himself and Biden and what he’s attempting to do is to say in the midst of chaos you need order,” said Singleton, who has been critical of Trump. “Most people would generally agree with that. When you see people vandalizing stores, stealing, looting, that’s chaotic. People don’t want that.”
“What Trump is doing, I would argue, is actually smart,” he said. “In other words, he’s not saying anything about the protests. He’s only talking about the people who are looting and destroying stuff. Two very different things.”
Democrats believe Biden has seized the moment effectively, highlighting a lack of empathy from Trump. They point to Biden’s impetus for running for president in the first place: The president’s reaction to a 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va.
“This is the extension of the argument he’s been making,” said Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist who served as the director of African American paid media on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, adding that Trump “doesn’t speak the language of unity. He speaks the language of division.”
Just like then, Biden has succeeded in making the argument that Trump “is not built for this moment,” Payne said. “Maybe this will fire up his base but that’s all he’s got right now.”
Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said he’s given up thinking that Trump’s tactics are designed to keep his base motivated.
“Guess what? His divisive, incendiary message is who he is and always will be,” Israel said. “He gets bizarre satisfaction when he sees people trampling other people. We give him too much credit for developing a strategic plan.”