Joe Biden accuses Donald Trump of fomenting violence and 'poisoning' US democracy

Democratic nominee made return to campaigning and public appearances in speech from Pennsylvania

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about safety in America during a campaign appearance in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. August 31, 2020.     REUTERS/Alan Freed
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The Democratic nominee for US president, Joe Biden, returned to the campaign trail on Monday, accusing Donald Trump of stoking violence and undermining US democracy.

In a speech from the swing state of Pennsylvania, Mr Biden, after a week of the Trump campaign attacking him as weak on security and unwilling to condemn riots in Kenosha and Portland, flipped the table on the US President.

“This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country,” he said in Pittsburgh. “He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it.”

Mr Biden rejected all forms of rioting and called for prosecution of all responsible.

"I want to be very clear about all of this: rioting is not protesting, looting is not protesting, setting fires is not protesting," he said.

"It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

Mr Biden said Mr Trump was part of the problem and rebuked him over his speeches.

”Donald Trump has been a toxic presence on our nation for four years," he said.

"Poisoning how we talk to one another. Poisoning the way we treat one another. Poisoning the values this nation has always held dear. Poisoning our very democracy."

Mr Biden again accused Mr Trump of not being truthful in speaking to the American public.

“The incumbent President is incapable of telling us the truth.”

Mr Biden said four more years of Mr Trump would not bring safety and that he only exacerbated crises.

Mr Trump later denied these claims at a briefing and tweeted an attack on his opponent.

“Just watched what Biden had to say," he posted.

"To me, he’s blaming the police far more than he’s blaming the rioters, anarchists, agitators and looters, which he could never blame or he would lose the radical left Bernie [Sanders] supports."

The unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon has killed three people in the past week.

Mr Trump will travel to Kenosha on Tuesday, even though the Governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers urged him not to come, saying it would “hinder our healing".

“I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together,” Mr Evers wrote.

With only 64 days until the vote, Mr Biden and Mr Trump will be increasing their campaign activities.

The Democratic nominee will travel to Minnesota, Arizona and Wisconsin next week, Bloomberg reported, as Mr Trump continues to visit swing states and hold outdoors rallies.

While Mr Biden still has a lead in opinion polls, the gap has narrowed and Mr Trump is capitalising on his “law and order” message to persuade voters that he is the right candidate for the moment.