PHILADELPHIA — Joe Biden plans to blister President Donald Trump for directing authorities to drive back peaceful protesters outside the White House "in order to stage a photo op," saying Tuesday that the commander in chief "is more interested in power than in principle."
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is delivering a speech in Philadelphia, addressing "the civil unrest facing communities across America." Biden is working to elevate his voice in the national debate after more than two months of the campaign for the White House being frozen amid the outbreak of the coronarvius.
"When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the president from the doorstep of the people's house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle," Biden will say, according to excerpts released by his campaign. "More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care."
Biden's criticism comes a day after Trump threatened the nation's governors that he would deploy the military to states if they did not stamp out violent protests over police brutality in the wake of the George Floyd killing that have roiled the nation. Police under federal command eventually forced b ack peaceful demonstrators in Washington with tear gas so the president could walk to a nearby church and pose with a Bible.
"Look, the presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won't either," Biden plans to say. "But I promise you this. I won't traffic in fear and division. I won't fan the flames of hate."
The former vice president is set to appear at City Hall in Philadelphia, where the National Guard is maintaining a visible presence to defend public buildings as the city grapples with sustained violent protests. Several adjacent businesses — banks, convenience stores and hotels were boarded up. A very small audience, including Mayor Jim Kenney, is expected.
Biden is trying to create a stark contrast with Trump, who has embraced the language of confrontation and war, casting himself as the "president of law and order." Trump signaled he would stake his reelection on convincing voters his forceful approach was warranted in a time of national tumult and racial unrest.
"I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country – not use them for political gain," Biden will say, according to the excerpts. "I'll do my job and take responsibility. I won't blame others. I'll never forget that the job isn't about me."