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As crime surges on his watch, Donald Trump warns of Biden's America

Donald Trump is painting dystopian portrait of what Joe Biden's America might look like, asserting crime and chaos would ravage communities should former vice president win White House in November

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Donald Trump | Joe Biden | US Presidential elections 2020

AP  |  Washington 

President Donald Trump. Photo: PTI
President Donald Trump. Photo: PTI

President is painting a dystopian portrait of what Joe Biden's America might look like, asserting crime and chaos would ravage communities should the former vice president win the White House in November.

Left unsaid: A recent surge in violent crime in several American cities has happened on his watch.

Irony is way down the list of things that President Trump worries about, said Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at the State University of New York College at Cortland whose research focuses on gun and the American presidency.

He's turning to the old playbook - appeal to the fears of Americans and then associate those fears with the Democratic Party, specifically

With echoes of Richard Nixon's law-and-order campaign in 1968, Trump is trying to energise his conservative base while also making an appeal to a small patch of undecided voters by posing the question: Which man will keep you safer?

By leaning hard on select scenes of violence, Trump is banking on that unrest continuing. But the protests could wane. Violent crime around the US has been on a downward trajectory for the better part of the last three decades.

Lanae Erickson, a senior vice president for social policy and at the centre-left think tank Third Way, said Trump's attempt to use the Nixon playbook and tap into anxieties about crime is odd given that, unlike Nixon in 1968, Trump is already in the White House.

Trump is the incumbent, so if bad things are happening right now, they get blamed on him, Erickson said. I don't know how he can persuade voters that it's Joe Biden's fault.

Trump has tried to paint Biden as captive of his party's most liberal elements who have called to dramatically reshape policing in America.

His campaign has aired advertising in battleground states that shows a woman calling police for help as an intruder breaks into her home and getting a voice recording informing her that, because the police have been defunded, no one is available to take her call.

The president recently tweeted a warning to Suburban Housewives of America that Biden will destroy your neighbourhood and your American dream. No one will be SAFE in Joe Biden's America! Trump declared.

Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York have seen spikes in violent crime and homicides this year. And Trump has dispatched federal agents or announced plans to send agents to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Chicago, and Kansas City, Missouri, to try to stop the unrest. He's also sent federal agents to Portland, Oregon, to try to forcibly quell protests around the federal courthouse.

Trump has tried to argue that Biden, at least implicitly, would condone unchecked violence.

Last week, Trump said he'd like to flood Chicago, which has seen a 51% increase in homicides and a 47% increase in shootings compared to the same time last year, with 50,000 or 75,000 people and solve it like you wouldn't believe."


But Trump said he wouldn't do it because of a lack of cooperation from the city's leadership.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Trump, despite his tough talk, has shown little interest in addressing a central issue driving the violence in the city: About 60% of firearms recovered in crimes committed in Chicago were originally purchased outside Illinois.

At the centre of Trump's attempts to cast Biden as weak on crime is pushing the unfounded notion that Biden wants to defund the police.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, Trump incorrectly cited a charter between Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders that was signed as part of the Unity Task Force, an effort to find common ground between the more moderate Biden backers and Sanders' liberal supporters.

But the task force's recommendations for the Democratic platform does not mention defunding police. Trump was unable to show Wallace language in the task force document that said as much.

Still, Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley hammered on the point during a Monday call to update grassroots activists on strategy.

Peter Scharf, a criminologist at Louisiana State University School of Public Health who has advised the New Orleans Police Department's reform efforts, said Biden's stance on policing is complicated and one that Trump will look to further muddy.

Biden, as a senator, played a key role in writing the 1994 crime bill-- tough-on-crime legislation that critics say fuelled mass incarceration.

During the primary, fellow Democrats repeatedly criticised Biden over the bill. His criminal justice proposal reverses some key provisions of the crime bill. He has also apologised for supporting some policies in the 1990s that he now recognises were harmful, such as sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine.

While Biden does not support defunding police departments, the push in some left-leaning big cities to drastically overhaul police budgets could put him in a difficult position, Scharf said.

The majority of Seattle's nonpartisan City Council, for example, has publicly embraced calls to cut the city's 2021 police budget by half. That makes it crucial that Biden become more proactive in laying out his vision for reinvention of the modern police force to prevent Trump's anti-police jabs from sticking, Scharf added.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, July 29 2020. 16:00 IST
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