Donald Trump fired back at Joe Biden after the former vice president sharply criticised his use of a Washington DC church as part of his announcement that he was deploying US military assets to combat protesters in the capital city.
“Sleepy Joe has been in politics for 40 years, and did nothing. Now he pretends to have the answers. He doesn’t even know the questions,” the president tweeted about six hours after Mr Biden gave one of the first major speeches of the 2020 general election.
That came in response to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee saying in a speech on Tuesday morning in Philadelphia that the president needs to care “for all of us, not just those who voted for [him]”.
“The president held up the Bible at St John’s church. I wish he’d open it once in a while instead of brandishing it,” Mr Biden said. “If he did, he’d see that we’re all called to love each other like we love ourselves. It’s hard work but it’s the work of America.”
But the president later tweeted that “weakness will never beat anarchists, looters or thugs, and Joe has been politically weak all of his life,” adding the phrase that he has used to describe himself, his presidency and his preferred mindset to end the sometimes violent protests in response to a black man’s death under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis: “LAW & ORDER!”
Mr Biden gave his speech to blast Mr Trump walking yesterday to St John’s Church near the White House after federal law enforcement personnel used tear gas – which they are now denying – to clear a safe path for the president to have pictures taken of him holding a Bible next to the church.
The former vice president also urged Mr Trump to “open the US constitution once in awhile” and urged him to be “part of the solution, not the problem”.
“When he tweeted ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ those aren’t the words of a president, they’re the words of a racist Miami cop from the 1970’s,” Mr Biden said before comparing Mr Trump’s comments about US secret service officers being ready to unleash ”vicious dogs” on protesters if they jumped over the White House fence to Bull Connor’s use of dogs and fire hoses on Civil Rights protesters in the early 1960s.
“We’re not going to allow any president to quiet our voice,” Mr Biden said. “We can’t leave this moment thinking that we can once again turn away and do nothing, we can’t do that this time. The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism.”
Mr Biden leads Mr Trump by around 10 percentage points nationally, and has leads in most of the key swing states that should decide the election. He told voters the election is about what they want the United States to be.
“Donald Trump has turned this country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears,” Mr Biden said in a speech and hall set up to make him look presidential. ”Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Is this what we want to pass on to our children and our grandchildren? Fear, anger, finger pointing, rather than the pursuit of happiness? Incompetence and anxiety, self-absorption, selfishness?”
A few hours after Mr Biden spoke in the “City of Brotherly Love,” where his 2020 campaign is based, White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway said he, as vice president, and Barack Obama, the country’s first black commander-in-chief, did not do enough to heal the country’s racial wounds.
“One has to scratch their head and wonder, you know, ‘Why Joe Biden hasn’t done more. Why is he talking about that today?’” he said. “And so we all need to do better as a nation. But I would wonder why Joe Biden thinks that he should, you know, he has some kind of privilege or right to continue a record that seems underwhelming at best from his time in that building (the White House).”
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