BALTIMORE, August 27 (Reuters) :
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday cast the re-election of President Donald Trump as critical to preserving America’s safety and economic viability, while cautioning Democrat Joe Biden would set the country on a path to socialism and decline.
Amid widening protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin, Pence and other Republicans at their national convention described the Nov. 3 contest between Trump and Biden as a choice between “law and order” and lawlessness.
“The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Pence told the crowd seated on a lawn at historic Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, Trump joined Pence on stage after the speech as the crowd chanted: “Four more years.”
Police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Blake, 29, multiple times in the back at close range on Sunday, reigniting protests against racism and police brutality that erupted across the United States earlier in the year.
During a third night of unrest on Tuesday, three people were shot, two fatally. The state’s lieutenant governor said the white teenager arrested on homicide charges was apparently a militia member who sought to kill innocent protesters.
Ahead of Pence’s speech, Trump said he would send federal law enforcement to Kenosha by agreement with the state’s governor.
“Let me be clear: the violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha,” said Pence, who did not mention Blake. “We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”
Biden said earlier he had spoken with Blake’s family on Wednesday and, like the family, also called for an end to the violence. But unlike Trump, who has yet to publicly comment on the police shooting, Biden called for justice and defended the right to protest.
“Protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary, but burning down communities is not protest. It’s needless violence,” Biden said in a video posted by his campaign.