WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump's focus Monday remained on the reelection contest five months from now, even as dozens of American cities cleaned up from a sixth night of chaos protesting the death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis.
"NOVEMBER 3RD," Trump tweeted, referring to Election Day, when he is running for a second four-year term in the White House against former Vice President Joe Biden.
With Biden, a Democrat, leading Republican Trump in all 40 national polls of U.S. voters in May, the president unleashed a string of Twitter attacks.
"Sleepy Joe Biden's people are so Radical Left that they are working to get the Anarchists out of jail, and probably more," Trump tweeted about protesters arrested in the past week.
"Joe doesn't know anything about it, he is clueless, but they will be the real power, not Joe. They will be calling the shots! Big tax increases for all, Plus!" Trump said.
Countering Trump, Biden, speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, vowed to address "institutional racism" in his first 100 days in office if he is elected and create a police oversight body.
Biden, staying at his home in Delaware during the coronavirus crisis, has struggled to be heard above the din of the public debate in Washington. But he has called the upcoming election a fight for the soul of the nation, hoping to contrast his quieter approach to public discourse with Trump's more incendiary attacks on his foes.
With the significant racial overtones of the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was pinned to the ground by a white police officer as he gasped to breathe, Biden left his home to meet with about a dozen local black leaders in his hometown. Later, he planned a virtual meeting with mayors from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota.
"Hate just hides," Biden said, speaking of race relations in the U.S. "It doesn't go away, and when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks."
Biden's aides noted that while he did not appear on television over the weekend, he spoke about Floyd's death before Trump did and has voiced compassion for the protesters.
Trump linked Biden, who served eight years as former President Barack Obama's second in command, to the more radical elements in the protests against the police action a week ago that killed Floyd.
Floyd was held face down on a Minneapolis street by police officer Derek Chauvin, who pushed a knee against his neck for more than eight minutes even as he repeatedly said he could not breathe. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second degree manslaughter in the case.
"Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors. These people are ANARCHISTS," Trump tweeted about the protesters. "Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!"
In another tweet Sunday, Trump said, "Law & Order in Philadelphia, NOW! They are looting stores. Call in our great National Guard like they FINALLY did (thank you President Trump) last night in Minneapolis. Is this what voters want with Sleepy Joe? All Dems!"
Trump also blamed another of his favorite targets, the national news media, for allegedly promoting civil unrest in the U.S.
"The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy," he said. "As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!"
"Much more 'disinformation' coming out of CNN, MSDNC, @nytimes and @washingtonpost, by far, than coming out of any foreign country, even combined," Trump alleged. "Fake News is the Enemy of the People!"