Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris both condemned violence at protests in Kenosha, Wisc., on Thursday amid allegations from Trump allies that they have been silent on the issue, with Biden attempting to turn the accusation around on Trump.
“I condemn violence in any form,” Biden said in an interview with MSNBC, claiming Trump is “rooting for the violence” and “pouring gasoline on the fire” because he “views it as a political benefit.”
Harris echoed Biden’s condemnation in a speech later that day, stating that she will “always defend peaceful protests and protesters,” but that “we should not confuse them with looting and committing acts of violence.”
Harris also called out the “shooter who was arrested for murder,” in Kenosha, declaring “we will not let these vigilantes and extremists derail the path to justice.”
The remarks come amid a GOP convention in which many speeches have been underpinned by the notion that Biden and Democrats have enabled protests by failing to call out violence – though Biden criticized “needless destruction” and “violence that endangers lives” at George Floyd protests in May.
“You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Vice President Mike Pence said in his RNC acceptance speech on Wednesday, pointing to violence in cities that Biden noted is happening “in Donald Trump’s America,” and accusing Biden of wanting to “defund the police,” despite Biden explicitly opposing that policy.
Simultaneously, the GOP convention has showcased several speakers slamming Biden’s work on the 1994 Crime Bill and Harris’ record as a prosecutor, attempting to paint Trump as the true criminal justice advocate despite his harsh attitude towards protesters and vandals in recent months.
“Biden’s crime bill, perhaps his signature legislative accomplishment, was the accursed product of the police lobbying group the National Association of Police Organizations — and with Biden, everything they wanted, they got,” Cato Institute’s David D’Amato wrote in The Hill, not mentioning that NAPO endorsed Trump, with NAPO President Michael McHale speaking at the GOP Convention on Wednesday.
In spite of Biden and Harris’ condemnations, Republicans have continued to hammer them over protest violence. “It’s too little too late, he has been silent two and a half months,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who spoke at the convention on Wednesday, said in an interview with Fox & Friends on Thursday. “They are now talking about this, because they know that as voters are watching their TV screens and concerned about the safety and security in their community.”
“The more chaos and anarchy and violence reign, the better it is for who is the clear choice for who’s best on public safety and law and order,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said in a Fox & Friends interview, a remark that seems to have been the impetus for Biden’s allegation that Trump sees “political benefit” in protest violence.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The final night of the Republican convention will doubtless feature more accusations of Biden being soft on crime. Speakers for the night include Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who infamously advocated for military intervention in George Floyd protests, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who joined Trump when he received an endorsement from the New York Police Benevolent Association, and NYPBA President Patrick Lynch, as well as Trump himself. The Biden campaign preempted the speeches in a statement, telling viewers, “When Donald Trump says tonight you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America, look around and ask yourself: How safe do you feel in Donald Trump’s America?”