LONDONDERRY: Fresh from accepting the Republican nomination, US President Donald Trump had harsh words for anti-racism protesters on Friday during a campaign stop in the politically important state of New Hampshire.
Addressing a crowd in an airport hangar, Trump called the demonstrators who sought to disrupt his White House speech on Thursday night “thugs” and said Senator Rand Paul could have died when he was swarmed by protesters afterwards.
Paul said on Friday he was attacked by an “angry mob” of more than 100 people near the White House and had to be rescued by the police.
“He’d either be in very bad shape, or dead, and that would include his wife, if those policemen didn’t happen to be there,” Trump said of the Republican senator.
The president has emphasised a “law and order” theme to motivate his political base and attract more voters as he trails former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, in national polls ahead of the Nov 3 election.
“You know what I say? Protesters, your ass. I don’t talk about my ass,” he said. “They’re not protesters. Those aren’t protesters. Those are anarchists, they’re agitators, they’re rioters, they’re looters.”
Trump has been criticised for not showing empathy in the wake of shootings and killings of Black men by police, including George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May, sparking anti-racism demonstrations worldwide.
New protests erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week after police officers shot Jacob Blake, another African-American man, multiple times in front of his children. He survived.
Thousands of people took part in a march in Washington on Friday to denounce racism.
Trump has not commented extensively about Blake, but he spoke extensively about protesters on Friday without specifying which demonstration he was talking about.
“They’re just looking for trouble. This has nothing to do with George Floyd, has nothing to do with anything. They don’t even know who George Floyd is,” he said.
Biden and his running mate, vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris, said Trump was making America less safe with his rhetoric and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The President incites violence, inspires white-supremacist shooters, and his failed Covid response is costing thousands of lives per day. When you look at the world right now, ask yourself: Do you feel safe in Trumps America?” Biden tweeted.
“He (Trump) has been obsessed, I think, with spreading fear and using division to protect his own ego, and more fundamentally to erode the foundations of the democracy that he swore to defend,” Harris said at a fundraiser on Friday.
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2020