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Violent Protests Draw Comments From Trump, Biden Campaigns


President Trump travels to Kenosha, Wis., today despite the governor asking him to stay away. Trump will tour damage from protests that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake. It is Trump's latest attempt to pin the blame for that destruction on Democrats.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The violence is fueled by dangerous rhetoric from far-left politicians that demonize our nation and demonize our police.

MARTIN: That was the president speaking there at the White House press briefing yesterday, repeating rhetoric we have heard over and over during the Republican convention. Earlier in the day, Joe Biden addressed those attacks in a Pittsburgh speech.


JOE BIDEN: This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can't stop the violence because for years he's fomented it.

MARTIN: NPR's Scott Detrow is with us now. Good morning, Scott. Let's start with President Trump. How is he talking about Kenosha, Wis., right now?

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Well, first of all, it's worth noting that after days of the president and other Republicans saying that Biden is not doing enough to condemn violence, President Trump repeatedly defended and offered excuses for Kyle Rittenhouse yesterday. And before we hear from the president, let's add some context. Rittenhouse is the 17-year-old who allegedly traveled from out of state to Kenosha to provide vigilante protection. And graphic videos show him shooting people in chaotic scenes. Prosecutors have charged him with two counts of homicide. But the president offered a sympathetic interpretation of one of those videos.


TRUMP: I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been - he probably would have been killed. But...


TRUMP: ...It's under investigation.

DETROW: There are several videos from several angles. And the bottom line is, as the president said, it's still under investigation. But he has been charged. More broadly, he again repeatedly pinned blame for moments of violence in protests on Democrats, Democratic mayors of cities. It was very partisan framing. And hours after Joe Biden suggested that Trump wants to fan the division for reelection, Trump said at one point he hoped his visit to Kenosha today could, quote, "increase enthusiasm."

MARTIN: So as you said, Joe Biden has suggested that the president is intentionally trying to increase divisions. What else is Biden saying?

DETROW: He gave a big speech Monday addressing these attacks in detail for the first time. And he did two interesting things. The first thing was directly respond to what the president is saying. Biden again said he supports peaceful protests, that they're happening for a good reason and made it clear he opposes looting, arson, any kind of violence. Then he spoke directly to this argument from President Trump that Biden is in league with violent protests in Kenosha and Portland and elsewhere.


BIDEN: You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family's story. Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really? I want a safe America - safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.

DETROW: And you heard that pivot there in the second half of the answer. Biden spent a lot of the speech walking through all of the bad things happening right now - millions of jobs lost, the pandemic - saying all of that is making people less safe, and it's happening on the president's watch. So he tried to broaden this to a larger argument.

MARTIN: All right, NPR's Scott Detrow for us. Thank you so much, Scott.

DETROW: Sure thing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.