Joe Biden has come out fighting as he asked Americans if they wanted the “toxin” that is Donald Trump to continue leading the nation.
The Democratic presidential nominee, speaking in a rare public appearance away from his hometown, criticised the president for his handling of the pandemic, police shootings, protests and job losses.
Speaking in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr Biden said: “The incumbent president is incapable of telling us the truth, incapable of facing the facts, incapable of healing.
“He doesn’t want to shed light, he wants to generate heat. And he’s stoking violence in our cities.
“Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really? I want a safe America, safe from COVID.
“Safe from crime and looting. Safe from racially motivated violence. Safe from bad cops. Let me be crystal clear, safe from four more years of Donald Trump.”
He told voters that he is “in this campaign for you” and that he does “not think about myself” – unlike Mr Trump, he said.
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The former vice-president has used the campaign so far to highlight Mr Trump’s handling of the pandemic, but he broadened his attack on Monday to several other issues, including law and order – one of the president’s main focuses.
“Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?” he asked the crowd.
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Mr Biden accused the president of failing to protect the nation as violent protests have dominated several cities over the past few months following the police shootings of a number of black Americans.
“He failed to protect this nation so he’s trying to scare America,” he said as he added that Mr Trump has “no problem with right-wing militia” who are “more heavily armed than the police” taking over the protests.
Mr Biden dismissed Mr Trump as incapable of tackling the violence “because for years he’s fomented it” and said the president does not want to stop it because it plays to his base.
In reaction to the president saying Mr Biden will not condemn the violence, the Democrat said: “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”
But the president hit back, tweeting: “To me, he’s blaming hte police far more than he’s blaming the rioters, anarchists, agitators, and looters, which he could never blame or he would lose the radical left Bernie supports!”
Mr Trump also retweeted a clip of Mr Biden seemingly stumbling over his words during the speech.
The Democrat accused Mr Trump of playing a “subservient role” to Russian president Vladimir Putin, and said he had a plan for economic recovery, a plan to tackle COVID-19 and increasing murder rates.
He added that he had a clean energy strategy and emphasised he would not ban fracking “no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me”.
The president has been a “toxic presence” who is “poisoning” how Americans talk to each other and view each other, he said.
“Will we rid ourselves of this toxin or make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”
As he finished his speech he quoted Pope John Paul II, saying: “Be not afraid, fear never builds the future but hope does.”