WASHINGTON – Democrats accused President Donald Trump of trying to inflame racial tensions and incite violence to benefit his campaign after he praised supporters who clashed with protesters during a deadly night in Portland, Oregon. and announced he will travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, amid anger over the shooting of another Black man by police.
Trump unleashed a flurry of tweets and retweets the day after a man identified as a supporter of a right-wing group was shot and killed in Portland. The city has been the site of months of daily protests, and a large caravan of Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters clashed Saturday night. Trump praised the caravan participants as “GREAT PATRIOTS!” and retweeted what appeared to be the dead man’s name along with a message to “Rest in peace.”
Trump also retweeted those who blamed the city’s Democratic mayor for the death.
“The people of Portland, like all other cities & parts of our great Country, want Law & Order," Trump wrote Sunday. "The Radical Left Democrat Mayors, like the dummy running Portland, or the guy right now in his basement unwilling to lead or even speak out against crime, will never be able to do it!”
Trump has throughout the summer cast American cities as under siege by violence and lawlessness, despite the fact that most of the demonstrations against racial injustice have been largely peaceful. With about nine weeks until Election Day, some of his advisers see an aggressive “law and order” message as the best way for the president to turn voters against his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and regain the support of suburban voters, particularly women, who have abandoned him. But Democrats accuse Trump of rooting for unrest and trying to stoke further violence for political gain instead of seeking to ratchet down tensions.
“He may think that war in our streets is good for his reelection chances, but that is not presidential leadership — or even basic human compassion,” Biden said in a statement responding to the shooting, in which he “unequivocally” condemned violence on all side, while accusing Trump of “recklessly encouraging" it.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, blamed Trump for the tensions.
“Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?” he asked at a televised news conference. “It’s you who have created the hate and the division.”