Biden has said for a couple of months that his running mate announcement would come in early August, ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which starts on August 17. The former vice president told reporters “I promise, I’ll let you know when I do.”
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee – after unveiling the fourth component of his plan to revive an American economy flattened by the coronavirus pandemic — said “I think I have laid out the most details plans on the economy” and touted “if I’m elected and this passes, I’m going to go down as one of the most progressive presidents in American history.”
Biden spoke with reporters as violence continues to flare in some cities across the country. The demonstrations protesting police brutality and racial injustice were sparked by the death two months ago of George Floyd, a Black man in Minnesota who died in police custody. Protesters in recent weeks surrounding Portland, Oregon’s federal courthouse have clashed with federal agents under the control of the Department of Homeland Security.
The former vice president said near the top of his speech that “when President Obama and I were in office, we protected federal property. We were able to do it without the Department of Homeland Security turning into a private militia. And it can be done today, but that wouldn’t help Trump’s political interests.”
Biden then charged that the president’s “determined to stoke division and chaos. It’s not good for the country, but Donald Trump doesn’t care. His campaign is failing and he’s looking for a political lifeline. This isn’t about law and order. It’s about a strategy to revive a failing campaign.”
The president recently announced he would be sending federal agents into other cities experiencing increasing crime rates, starting with Chicago. Trump called it a “surge of federal enforcement into American communities plagued by violent crime.”
At the same time the president, his re-election campaign, and allied groups have attacked Biden as being soft on crime and have accused him of wanting to defund the police, which the former vice president has repeatedly denied. The Trump campaign for weeks has also carpeted the airwaves in key general election battleground states with TV ads taking aim at Biden over the violence.
Democrats have accused the president of scare tactics in an attempt to win back suburban voters that Trump captured in his 2016 victory but who fled the GOP in 2018 as the Republicans lost their majority in the House of Representatives. Critics also accuse the president of highlighting the unrest to try and move the political spotlight off his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pointing to the Trump ads, Biden told reporters “that is all about trying to come up with a bizarre law and order 2020 campaign thing to scare the devil out of the American people….This is about division. This is about trying to split the country.”
And he emphasized that “so far thank God, the American people aren’t having any of it” and are “not buying onto this racial division.”
Asked how he’d handle the unrest in urban areas if he were in the White House right now, Biden said “I’d be using local police as we did when we were in office, when there were riots with federal property at stake. We were able to take care of that.”
Biden stressed that “arsonists should be held accountable. People carrying guns should be held accountable. People engaged in criminal activity must be held accountable and taken to trial…They should be found, arrested and tried.”
The Trump re-election campaign rapid accused Biden of having “zero idea what’s going on in Portland.”
Rapid response director Andrew Clark tweeted that “Joe Biden’s sound bite answer about relying on “local police” in Portland shows how much he is uninformed about what’s going on on the ground in Portland. Local police have tried to contain the rioting for weeks, but local leaders are hamstringing their efforts to do it.”
The Trump campaign also spotlighted Biden’s comment that he’d be “”the most Progressive president in history” if he’s elected and his proposals become law. The Trump campaign warned that if Biden’s “radical agenda is passed, “Middle-class families won’t be able to afford Joe Biden’s radical shift to the Left.”