Joe Biden defended his stance on the recent wave of social unrest that has swept across America’s cities on Monday, telling supporters he was neither a “radical socialist” nor had a “soft spot for rioters.”
The former vice president, who over the weekend pledged not to use the National Guard as a political “prop,” delivered a speech in western Pennsylvania addressing the protests and riots that have sprung up since Jacob Blake’s shooting by police. In his remarks, Biden not only castigated President Donald Trump for “stroking violence,” but clarified his own position on the topic.
“You know me, you know my heart, you know my story, my family’s story,” the Democrat nominee said. “Do I look like a radical socialist, with a soft spot for rioters?”
Claiming that he wanted a country secure from not only “crime and looting,” but also “from racially motivated violence” and “from bad cops,” Biden argued that the current unrest will do nothing to bring change.
“I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and the dreams of small businesses being destroyed and the opportunity for real progress on issues of race and police reform and justice being put to the test,” the former vice president said.
Biden’s speech came only two days after he assured members of the National Guard that he would never use the military to intervene in domestic political disputes.
“I promise you as president, I’ll never put you in the middle of politics or personal vendettas,” Biden said on Saturday during a virtual address to the National Guard Association of the United States. “I’ll never use the military as a prop or as a private militia to violate the rights of fellow citizens. That’s not law and order. You don’t deserve that.”
Such comments, combined with Biden’s consistent praise of “peaceful protesters,” have drawn attack from Republicans, especially as violence and rioting escalated throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Oregon in recent days.
In the wake of such criticism, Democrat strategists have begun openly discussing fears that the rioting could engender a backlash against Biden among suburban voters, a must-win constituency if he has any hopes of taking the White House this November.