Biden Condemns Political Violence, Mocks Claim That He Would Be Soft on Rioters as President

Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president Joe Biden speaks about safety in America during a campaign event in Pittsburgh, Penn., August 31, 2020. (Alan Freed/Reuters)

Joe Biden pushed back Monday against attacks by President Trump and other Republicans who claim that he has been slow to condemn leftist street violence and would empower those radicals if he were to win in November.

Biden delivered his remarks in a speech in Pittsburgh, Penn., on the riots and broader economic uncertainty across the country. The speech comes after Biden condemned riots in Portland, Ore., and “needless violence” in Kenosha.

“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting, looting is not protesting, setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

The former vice president continued, “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story. Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

Trump has sought to portray rising rates of violent crime in cities throughout the U.S., as well as ongoing riots in Portland, Ore., as the fault of local Democratic leadership.

“The people of Portland, like all other cities & parts of our great Country, want Law & Order,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “The Radical Left Democrat Mayors, like the dummy running Portland, or the guy right now in his basement unwilling to lead or even speak out against crime, will never be able to do it!”

In his Monday speech, Biden characterized Trump as a president who “sows chaos, rather than providing order.”

“He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it,” Biden said. “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 how weak he is.”

While it isn’t clear what specific incident Biden was referring to, two demonstrators in Kenosha were allegedly shot and killed by 17-year-old suspect Kyle Rittenhouse, who had traveled to the city to join efforts to protect property from rioters. In Portland on Saturday, pro-Trump protester Aaron Danielson, who joined a “Patriot Prayer” caravan to the city, was shot and killed by a demonstrator who declared himself “100% Antifa” on social media.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.