The former vice president, who has remained secluded at home since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, commenced in-person campaigning on Monday with a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In his remarks, Biden addressed the mounting social unrest that has swept most of the country since the shooting last week of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
While the former vice president spent a portion of his speech criticizing violence and urging supporters to stand against it “in every form it takes,” Biden claimed the blame for such disorder rested with the current commander-in-chief.
“The incumbent president is incapable of telling us the truth,” Biden said. “Incapable of facing the facts and incapable of healing. He doesn’t want to shed light, he wants to generate heat and he’s stoking violence in our cities.”
“Fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames, rather than fighting the flames,” he added. “But we must not burn, we have to build.”
Arguing that Trump had “long ago forfeited any moral leadership,” Biden claimed that the president was incapable of stopping “violence because for years he had fomented it.”
“He 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,” the former vice president said. “Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?”
Biden’s speech comes as protests against Blake’s shooting and more broadly in opposition to police brutality and racial injustice have turned violent in several cities across the country. The situation, in particular, has escalated not only in Kenosha, but also in areas like Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Although it is too early for a clear determination, the rioting has raised concerns about Biden’s leadership abilities among suburban and swing voters, many of whom are a must-win constituency if Democrats have any hope of taking back the White House in November.