As protests break out in cities across the country over the death on May 25 of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, knelt on his neck, the actions of Donald Trump and of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in response are a study in contrasts.
Biden has been visible. He visited the site of a protest in his home state of Delaware; met with leaders of the black community in Wilmington to listen to their concerns; and held a virtual roundtable Monday afternoon with the mayors of St. Paul, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
Observers note that Biden is taking actions ordinarily expected of a president in such situations.
Trump, meanwhile, has remained out of camera view, fanning the flames of unrest with violent rhetoric on Twitter, behavior even his own aides fear is making the situation across the country worse.
Trump has called for looters to be shot and suggested martial law be implemented to stop the protests.
In a call with governors on Monday, Trump told Democratic leaders they had to take harsher steps in response.
"You have to dominate, if you don't dominate you're wasting your time. They're going to run over you, you're going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate," Trump said in the call, according to audio obtained by CBS News.
The Associated Press reported that Trump said, "You've got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you'll never see this stuff again."
With Trump sticking to his usual script and speaking just to his base, one nonpartisan political analyst said, he likely isn't helping his political standing ahead of the November presidential election.
"There are more people who don't like pure chaos than do like chaos," Stuart Rothenberg, a longtime nonpartisan political handicapper and columnist at Roll Call, said in an interview. "And so, given that, I don't see how the president benefits from looking the way he's looked for the past 3 1/2 years — which got him to a job approval in the low 40s and trailing Biden in the ballot test from 5 to 8 points. I don't see how this changes that."
Biden currently leads Trump in national polls by an average of 5.9 points, according to RealClearPolitics. Biden also has leads in enough swing states to hand him an Electoral College victory in what CNN's Harry Enten called "one of the best positions for any challenger since scientific polling began."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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