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Biden to blast Trump's church photo op in Philadelphia speech

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter Trump narrows Biden's lead in Pennsylvania: poll Florida breaks first-day early voting record with 350K ballots cast MORE plans to rip President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE during a speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday, accusing the president of wrongly using military personnel to scatter protesters so that he could “stage a photo op at a noble church.”

“When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the President from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House— using tear gas and flash grenades— in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle,” Biden will say, according to prepared remarks.

“More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care. For that’s what the presidency is: a duty of care—to all of us, not just our voters, not just our donors, but all of us.”

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Trump ordered military personnel to clear the streets around the White House on Monday night so that he could walk across the street to pose for a photo holding a Bible in front of the historic St. John’s Church, which was set on fire by vandals over the weekend.

Without warning, military police repeatedly fired tear gas and smoke bombs into the peaceful crowd of hundreds of protesters in front of Lafayette Square ahead of Trump’s trip to the church.

Monday night marked the fourth night of civil unrest in the nation's capital over the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. The officer, who was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck during the arrest, was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Protesters and law enforcement have clashed in the streets. Some demonstrations have been peaceful, while others have been marred by violence, vandalism and looting.

Biden’s speech in Philadelphia, where thousands demonstrated in the streets on Monday, will focus on racial injustice. It is his first major public address since the coronavirus outbreak, which had kept him marooned at home in Delaware.

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The former vice president will also reiterate Floyd's last words of “I can’t breathe.”

“George Floyd’s last words, but they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation,” Biden will say.

“They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk. They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus and 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment — with a disproportionate number of these deaths and job losses concentrated in the black and minority communities. ... It’s a wake-up call for our nation. For all of us.”

And Biden will accuse Trump of being a divisive leader, while making the case for himself as a commander in chief who would unite the country.

“I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate,” Biden will say.

“I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain. I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me. It’s about you. And I’ll work to not only rebuild this nation. But to build it better than it was.”