Trump camp’s twin cards
US Vice-President Mike Pence on Wednesday cast the re-election of President Donald Trump as critical to preserving law and order and economic viability, asserting that Democratic rival Joe Biden would set America on a path to socialism and decline.
Amid widening protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, in Wisconsin, Pence and other Republicans at their national convention described the November 3 election between Trump and Biden as a choice between law-and-order and lawlessness.
“The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Pence told a crowd seated in folding chairs at historic Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
Accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Trump joined Pence on stage after the speech as the crowd chanted: “Four more years.”
Police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Blake, 29, multiple times in the back at close range on Sunday, reigniting protests against racism and police brutality that erupted across the US earlier in the year.
During a third night of unrest on Tuesday, three people were shot, two fatally. A teenager was arrested on homicide charges. The state’s lieutenant governor said he was apparently a militia member who sought to kill innocent protesters.
In his speech Pence said: “Let me be clear: the violence must stop, whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”
Biden said earlier he had spoken with Blake’s family on Wednesday and, like the family, called for an end to the violence.
But, unlike Trump who has yet to publicly comment on the police shooting, Biden called for justice and defended the right to protest.
“Protesting brutality is a right and necessary, but burning down communities is not protest. It’s needless violence,” Biden said in a video posted by his campaign.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump said he would send federal law enforcement to Kenosha by agreement with the state’s governor while the US department of justice said a federal civil rights investigation had been opened into the shooting.
Democrats have characterised Trump’s law-and-order focus as a diversion from what they say is the President’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 178,000 Americans and cost the jobs of millions of people.
Trump has struggled to win back women voters alienated by his combative style, opinion polls show, and some speakers sought to highlight his work to elevate women — part of an effort during the convention to present a softer view of Trump that is often belied by his own actions and words.