WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Joe Biden is calling the struggle to reopen U.S. schools amid the coronavirus a “national emergency” and accusing President Donald Trump of turning his back to instead stoke passions about unrest in America’s cities.
The Democratic presidential nominee’s broadsides came a day ahead of his own trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Biden said he wants to help “heal” a city reeling from another police shooting of a Black man.
The wounding of Jacob Blake and subsequent demonstrations have made the political battleground state a focal point for debate over police and protest violence, as well as the actions of vigilante militias.
Biden assailed Trump for his vilifying of protesters as well as his handling of the pandemic that has killed nearly 190,000 Americans and crippled the national economy, leaving millions out of work, schools straining to deal with students in classrooms or at home and parents struggling to keep up. An American president, Trump’s challenger declared, should be able to lead through multiple crises at the same time.
“Where is the president? Why isn’t he working on this?,” Biden asked. “We need emergency support funding for our schools — and we need it now. Mr. President, that is your job. That’s what you should be focused on — getting our kids back to school. Not whipping up fear and division — not inciting violence in our streets.”
Trump answered almost immediately with his own event in North Carolina, where he continued casting the protests generally as “violent mobs here at home” that must be met with a strong show of force.
“These people know one thing: strength,” he said. If local leaders would ask for federal muscle, Trump said, “We’ll have it done in one hour.”
Earlier in the day he tweeted at Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, urging her to let federal authorities take over monitoring the nightly protests downtown.
Some things just don’t get any crazier. Just call me Kate, problem over! https://t.co/86SCqZ05ZG
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2020