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Biden fights back, accusing Trump of fomenting US violence

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is heading back to the campaign trail for a much anticipated speech on the violence in US cities
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is heading back to the campaign trail for a much anticipated speech on the violence in US cities Ronda Churchill AFP/File
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Pittsburgh (AFP)

White House hopeful Joe Biden will ask voters "are you safe in Donald Trump's America" with a speech Monday in the swing state of Pennsylvania where the Democrat will accuse the president of fomenting politically explosive violence.

The stakes for Biden in the Pittsburgh address couldn't be higher nine weeks from election day.

Emerging from months of Covid-19 travel restrictions, Biden finds himself suddenly on the defensive, mocked by Trump as weak in the face of chaotic unrest combining leftist anti-racism protests, riots, deadly shootings and right-wing vigilante actions in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon.

With Trump exalting in the shift of debate from his widely panned handling of the coronavirus pandemic to his favored theme of what he calls "law and order," Biden risks losing the momentum that has put him ahead in the polls for the November 3 election.

The simple "are you safe" question that he will put to voters seeks to reclaim control of that message.

In speech excerpts released by the campaign, Biden says Trump is the one responsible for the mayhem he is attempting to pin on the Democrats.

Trump "can't stop the violence, because for years he has fomented it," Biden will say.

Trump "may believe mouthing the words 'law and order' makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows you how weak he is," Biden says.

"Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?"

- Kenosha flashpoint -

Trump, who for months has been trying to downplay the coronavirus crisis and talk up apocalyptic claims of anarchy under Democratic rule, will offer his own perspective Tuesday when he visits the flashpoint of Kenosha.

The city in one of the most significant states of the electoral map has been in turmoil since the shooting by a white police officer of an African American man in front of his children during an arrest this month.

A microcosm of the racial and ideological tensions of the Trump era, Kenosha has seen Black Lives Matter protests, riots, and the arrival of armed, white vigilantes, culminating in an incident where a 17-year-old militia enthusiast allegedly shot dead two people at the protest and badly injured another.

On Saturday in Portland there was another death. A man wearing a cap with the logo of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer was shot as Trump supporters -- some armed -- made a dramatic show of force in the city, clashing with leftwing groups that have been protesting against the police and often rioting for weeks.

Trump's visit to Kenosha will focus on his message that police are under siege in Democratic-led cities, putting what he calls "suburban housewives" and the "American Dream" in danger.

"He will meet with law enforcement and survey damage from recent riots," White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

Local elected leaders have pleaded with the president to stay away, according to US media reports.

Over the weekend and continuing early Monday, Trump delivered a torrent of tweets pushing his claims about Democratic-run cities in meltdown and offering support for the right-wing militias -- including one saying "Rest In Peace" for the victim of Saturday's Portland shooting.

"The Radical Left Mayors & Governors of Cities where this crazy violence is taking place have lost control of their 'Movement,'" Trump said in one tweet Monday.

"The Anarchists & Agitators got carried away and don't listen anymore - even forced Slow Joe out of basement!"

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