‘Donald Trump a toxic presence in our nation for 4 years’: Joe Biden
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, on Monday called president Donald Trump a “toxic presence” who has exploited violence linked to anti-racism riots as a “political lifeline” to save his campaign for a second term doomed by his handling of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Biden attacked Trump’s central re-election thesis that the Democratic challenger supports the violent protests, benefits from it and will unleash more of it on the country if elected. And the president had already caused the chaos he was seeking to warn of, Biden said, adding, in fact he was stoking it for political mileage.
“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said in a speech in Pittsburg, in battleground state Pennsylvania. “Poisoning how we talk to one another. Poisoning how we treat one another. Poisoning the values this nation has always held dear. Poisoning to our democracy.”
He added, as a rhetorical follow-up question: “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our national character?”
Biden also sought to clarify his own stand on the protests, which Trump and his surrogates have sought to wrongly characterise as sympathetic to “thugs” and the “radical left”. “I want to be clear about this: Rioting is not protesting,” he said. “Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting.”
“None of this is protesting – it’s lawlessness – plain and simple,” he added.
The Democrat has led the Republican president in all polls in recent months, although by a narrowing margin in recent days.
He faces an aggressive push-back from Trump and his allies in the final stretch of the polls, the last two months till November 3. They have sought to portray Biden as weak on law and order and a puppet of the radical left wingers of the Democratic party that have been most visible in recent months marching in anti-racism protests all over the country, confronting police and, at times pushing lines of orderly conduct.
Biden sought to punch holes in that narrative in the speech. He argued that Trump should take responsibility for the protests and the violence as they took place on his watch as president, instead of passing them off as warnings of a dystopian future under the presidency of his Democratic challenger.
“Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a political lifeline,” Biden said.
Trump sought to hit back later, calling Biden’s speech “strange”. And he attacked Biden for not mentioning “the far left” and that “what I saw, I don’t believe he mentioned the word “Antifa”, short for anti-fascists, an extreme left wing comprising white and colored activists opposed, among other things, to white nationalists.
Trump went on to, in fact, defend a 17-year-old white nationalist who shot dead two protesters in Kenosha, in the unrest following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by a white police officer. The shooter was “trying to get away from” protesters chasing him, he said, echoing the shooter’s defense attorneys. “I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have probably been killed,” said Trump.