Kenosha is threatening to upend a Joe Biden campaign strategy of making the November election a referendum on Donald Trump — especially his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — with unrest in the city playing into Trump’s “law and order” messaging.
Trump’s campaign of fear is aimed at the few persuadable voters left in key swing states, among them Wisconsin. The Trump line is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America — ignoring that what’s happening right now is on Trump’s watch.
“Who’s rooting for the violence here?’” Biden said in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “He’s using division and hate. It’s the only way he stays in office,” Biden told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Biden talked to the anchors in the run up to the fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention.
“The biggest safety issue is all the people dying from COVID, over 1,000 yesterday,” Biden said.
The pandemic, sparking the worst health and economic crises of all our lifetimes, was worth only a few brief mentions at the GOP convention until Trump’s speech, where he promised to “crush the virus.”
Voters are smart and won’t be fooled into thinking the pandemic is “done” merely by the pictures we saw at the convention of people not wearing masks or social distancing in the White House Rose Garden or the South Lawn or Fort McHenry.
Indeed, the thousands seen mingling on the South Lawn on Thursday night – with few wearing masks – had all the makings of a super-spreader event. For the record, Richard Porter, a Republican National Committeeman from Illinois, was on the South Lawn wearing a mask.
At the convention and in the weeks left before voting starts, the Trump team time machine wants to vault voters either back to the pre-coronavirus spread around the globe or forward to some time in the future when this is behind us.
The robust stock market Trump often cites as proof that everything is OK doesn’t matter if you don’t own stock or are forced to take money out of your stock-based retirement plan because you lost your job. A payroll tax cut Trump wants doesn’t matter if you’re not on a payroll.
Pick a time, any time, but the pandemic present – except when it comes to unrest in Kenosha and in cities run by Democratic mayors taking place in the past few days and earlier this summer.
Trump and other Republicans who paint a scary future if Biden becomes president do it as a distraction. The health, economic and racial injustice problems the nation is grappling with now are happening while Trump is in charge.
Before Trump’s South Lawn acceptance speech, Biden and running mate Kamala Harris launched their pre-emptive strike – Biden in the CNN and MSNBC interviews, and Harris in a speech in Washington, D.C.
“This happens to be Donald Trump’s America, Donald Trump’s America,” Biden said twice for emphasis. “COVID is out of control. … This is his America now.”
Biden and Harris each talked about Jacob Blake, the Black man shot seven times in the back by a white Kenosha police officer.
Kenosha is one word describing two distinct issues confronting the nation: police brutality and the rise of white radicalism.
Kyle Rittenhouse, a white 17-year old from Antioch in northwest Illinois, was charged with killing two people and wounding another in Kenosha on Tuesday. He was a Trump backer – attending a Trump rally in Iowa, Buzzfeed News reported – who was enamored with policing.
Harris retooled her speech – it was billed as remarks on COVID-19 – to address Blake and systemic racism.
“And even as we experience this reckoning with racial injustice, we must also confront another crisis: The pandemic that has torn apart so many lives. The numbers that define this crisis are staggering. We cannot look the other way or allow ourselves to become numb to them,” she said.
Trump made his own pre-emptive move.
On Thursday afternoon, Trump’s White House announce the purchase of 150 million COVID-19 rapid tests from Abbott, the global health care company headquartered near the city of North Chicago in Lake County, for nationwide distribution.
At a Biden virtual fundraiser on Thursday attended by a group of Illinois lawyers and hosted by Larry Rogers, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, the pool report said Biden told the gathering he “is planning to hold in-person events in battleground states, depending on state regulations on gatherings, beginning after Labor Day.”