Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden didn't mince words Monday when he angrily condemned President Trump as a "toxic presence" who has ignited violence during the 2020 presidential campaign.
Trump and his top strategists had been exploiting the rash of street protests for their political advantage, and Biden had flatly rejected those efforts.
"I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. It's lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted," Biden said.
"You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family's story," Biden said. "Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?"
Instead, Biden added, "I want a safe America. Safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops. Let me be crystal clear: safe from four more years of Donald Trump."
Yet Trump and his attack squad continued to blame Biden, insisting he hadn't repudiated the protesters and the rioters who followed them. But the former vice president flatly declared in his Monday remarks, "I condemn violence of every kind by anyone whether on the left or the right."
The bitter war of words flared throughout the two weeks of their conventions, though Biden seemed to have the stronger statistical argument in the end.
"Donald Trump wants to ask the question: 'Who will keep you safer as president?'" Biden asked in his convention address. "Let's answer that question.
"When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15% in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder."
Pointing out that America's homicide rate had risen 26% this year, Biden leveled another question: "Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?"
The answer to Biden's question was in many of the nation's newspapers when Trump traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, this past week.
The headline on the front page of The Washington Post's lead story Wednesday read: "Trump visits city hit by riots," with the subhead declaring that Trump "Ignores pleas to drop Kenosha trip."
It wasn't long after the Democratic convention had concluded its business and nominated Biden that his top strategists were being bombarded with messages from worried Democratic leaders.
Trump headed to Kenosha, the scene of where police shot an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, to press his hard-line law-and-order campaign that his advisers believed would play to voters' concerns there.
Speaking at an event focused on community safety, the president said that Kenosha had "been ravaged by anti-police and anti-American riots," and promised to stand by law enforcement.
"To stop the political violence, we must also confront the radical ideology that includes this violence," Trump said. "Reckless, far-left politicians continue to push the destructive message that our nation and our law enforcement are oppressive or racist."
Biden didn't directly respond to Trump's appearance in Kenosha, but said in an interview with WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, that the president was doing nothing to quell the violence.
"The fact is, this is Donald Trump's America. Donald Trump has done nothing more than pour gasoline on the fire. I have condemned the violence from the very beginning," Biden said.
Trump later announced that his administration plans to give $1 million in emergency funds for Kenosha law enforcement, $4 million to help support local small businesses destroyed in the riots and fires and over $42 million to support public safety statewide.
Who says criticizing the president doesn't lead to getting things done?
(Donald Lambro has been covering Washington politics for more than 50 years as a reporter, editor and commentator.)