“The people of Portland, like all other cities & parts of our great Country, want Law & Order," Trump wrote Sunday. "The Radical Left Democrat Mayors, like the dummy running Portland, or the guy right now in his basement unwilling to lead or even speak out against crime, will never be able to do it!”
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Trump has throughout the summer cast American cities as under siege by violence and lawlessness. With about nine weeks until Election Day, some of his advisers see an aggressive “law and order” message as the best way for the president to turn voters against his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and gain the support of suburban voters, particularly women.
But Democrats accuse Trump of rooting for unrest and trying to stoke further violence for political gain instead of seeking to ratchet down tensions.
Democratic White House nominee Joe Biden closed out the carefully scripted, pre-taped and virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention on Thursday.
“He may think that war in our streets is good for his reelection chances, but that is not presidential leadership — or even basic human compassion,” Biden said in a statement responding to the shooting, in which he “unequivocally” condemned violence on all side, while accusing Trump of “recklessly encouraging" it.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, blamed Trump for the tensions.
“Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?” he asked at a televised news conference. “It’s you who have created the hate and the division.”
Trump has cast the upcoming election as clash between “law and order” and anarchy, and he has denounced protesters as “thugs” while sharply defending police.
Trump is expected to continue to hit that theme when he travels Tuesday to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where tensions are still raw after police shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in the back seven times, leaving him paralyzed. The shooting has ignited new demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality months after George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer touched off a wider reckoning on race.
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Trump will be meeting with law enforcement officers and “surveying” the damage in the city, where businesses have been vandalized and some buildings burned during demonstrations, White House spokesman Judd Deere announced.
But Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, asked Trump to reconsider in a letter Sunday.
“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state. I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together,” Evers wrote.
Earlier Sunday, Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, said Trump is “doing everything he can to fan the flames.”
“I think his visit has one purpose, and one purpose only. And that is to agitate things and to make things worse,” Bass said Sunday on CNN's “State of the Union." “It is clear his campaign is all about law and order. It is a throwback to the past. And he’s going to do everything to disrupt law and order in this time period."
Deere responded to the critics saying, “The only people to blame for the violence and riots in our streets are liberal politicians and their incompetent policies that have failed to get control of these destructive situations.”