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Biden says Trump is 'rooting for more violence, not less'

Biden reacted to Vice President Mike Pence's speech attacking him at the Republican National Convention.
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WASHINGTON — Joe Biden said Thursday that President Donald Trump is "rooting for more violence, not less," because he thinks it benefits him politically.

In an interview on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, reacted to Vice President Mike Pence's speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, in which he said people "won't be safe in Joe Biden's America."

Biden added about Trump: "He views this as a political benefit to him, you know. He's rooting for more violence, not less, and it's clear about that. And what's he doing, he's kept pouring gasoline on the fire."

Biden said he condemns violence in any form, including looting, and he then referred to the 17-year-old man who faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the shooting deaths of two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, at a protest this week sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

"Where's the condemnation coming for that?" Biden asked.

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Asked whether he would consider visiting Kenosha, Biden said: "Yes, I would. I would consider that." But he added that he doesn't want to become "part of the problem" and would want to "make sure it could be done safely."

"If I were president, I'd be going," Biden said. "If I went, what I'd be doing is try to pull together the Black community as well as the white community and sit down and talk and talk about how we get through this."

Biden said Trump is making the situation worse.

"What bothers me the most is the idea of just pouring gasoline on the racial flames that are burning," he said. "That does not justify any of the looting, any of the burning, any of the damage being done by protesters. But the people have a right to be angry. People have a right to protest."

Regarding Pence's claim that people would be less safe under Biden, he said the "biggest safety issue is all the people dying from COVID — over 1,000 yesterday again."

"We're worse off than any other country in the world right now," he said.

Biden's campaign is preparing to run a two-minute ad on every major TV network before the final night of the convention Thursday that portrays him as an energetic doer in contrast to Trump's "sleepy Joe" sobriquet.

The unusually long ad, which comes as Trump's campaign has paused its TV ads in swing states, features B-roll video of Biden running across stages juxtaposed with a clip of Trump unsteadily walking down a ramp.

"When Joe Biden is president, America is just going to have to keep up," the narrator says before the ad moves on to a positive biographic story about Biden. It never mentions Trump, who speaks at the convention Thursday.

Other Democrats responded more directly to the third night of the Republican convention, which culminated in Pence's warning that the unrest in Kenosha shows that "you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America."

"With all due respect, Mr. Vice President, that violence is happening right now in Donald Trump's America. That division is happening right now on your watch. You own this," senior Biden campaign adviser Symone Sanders said on a call with reporters organized by the Democratic National Committee.

She said it was "nihilistic and disgusting" that former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Thursday on Fox News that "the more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who's best on public safety."

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Former Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg also mocked the convention for trying to rewrite Trump's record.

"Last night was like witnessing an alternate reality," Buttigieg said on the Democratic call. "I've been hearing about this remarkable man who delivered peace to the Middle East, acted swiftly to defeat COVID and is deeply committed to empowering women. He sounds like a great guy. I hope I'll meet him someday. It is peculiar that he shares the same name as our current president, given that in every other respect he couldn't be more different.

"Donald Trump is president right now. All of this is happening on his watch," he added.