Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Trump` are fighting to shape public perception around the protests convulsing the country, a high-stakes battle that comes as the nation is gripped by largely peaceful protests mixed with disturbing scenes of violence.
Trump is taking a rather aggressive approach on law and order, using military personnel to target protesters outside the White House and demanding that Democratic leadership in cities regain control from vandals and looters that have ransacked businesses and fought with the police.
The president’s campaign is making the case that Biden is too weak and that the country needs a strong leader in a time of crisis.
Biden on the other hand is trying to cast Trump as someone who lacks empathy at a time when racial relations are tense over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in Minneapolis after a police officer restrained him by kneeling on his neck.
On Tuesday Biden denounced Trump from a City Hall in Philadelphia, one of the cities wracked by violent protests in recent days.
“When peaceful protesters dispersed in order for a president to use tear gas and flash grenades in order to stage a photo op – a photo op – at one of the most historic churches in the country… we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle, more interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care,” Biden said.
“We will not allow any President to quiet our voice,” Biden said. “We won’t let those who see this as an opportunity to sow chaos throw up a smokescreen to distract us from the very real and legitimate grievances at the heart of these protests.”
Even some GOP leaders have expressed unease with Trump’s methodology, especially pertaining to the protesters around the White House on Monday night.
“To me at a time like this, the president ought to be trying to calm the nation, pledge to right historic wrongs and be a steady influence. I don’t think he was last night,” said Senator Susan Collins, who is among the most vulnerable GOP senators up for re-election.
“It was painful to watch peaceful protesters be subjected to tear gas in order for the president to go across the street to a church that I believe he’s attended only once,” she said.