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Finley: Dem's strategy: Blame Donald Trump, not rioters

Nolan Finley   | The Detroit News

Democrats think they’ve found the formula for appearing to denounce the riots racking major American cities without offending the rioters: Blame President Donald Trump.

Joe Biden, along with most other Democrats, has skirted calls to address the violence in Portland, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere. The Democratic convention went a full four days without noting the ongoing burning and looting. Their hope was to keep the focus on the discontent represented by the massive protests while ignoring the violence they facilitate. 

CNN, the party’s media mouthpiece, was widely ridiculed for airing a report on a "mostly peaceful" protest in Portland while a building burned in the background.

And then the polls started moving. Republicans exploited the growing unease about the loss of control of American cities during their convention last week, pounding the law and order theme.

It’s a message that hits home in Middle America, where there is sympathy for the goals of Black Lives Matter but little tolerance for mobs running unchecked through cities. Trump’s numbers improved against a silent Biden. And so the Democratic presidential nominee finally had to speak.

"The deadly violence we saw in Portland is unacceptable," Biden tweeted. "Shooting in the streets of a great American city is unacceptable. I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same."

His message was seconded by his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, who more directly shifted the blame from the rioters to the president:

"I join @JoeBiden in condemning this violence. This can not — and must not — be who we are. Americans deserve a president who will heal our country and bring people together — not fan the flames of hatred and division."

Not a word in either statement condemning the actual hooligans who are using the Black Lives Matter protests as a shield for their murder and mayhem. The name Antifa never crosses Democratic lips.

Portland’s pitifully incompetent mayor, Ted Wheeler, picked up the blame-Trump theme during his press conference after the weekend slaying of a pro-Trump counterdemonstrator.

The pivot is designed to make the violence all about Trump, with the assurance that electing Biden will calm the streets. They’ve settled on a message that "you’re not safe in Donald Trump’s America."

Pushing fault for riots fueled by Democratic inaction onto Republicans is major bullwacky. Those responsible for the violence are anarchists exploiting the pants-wetting of Democratic mayors and governors who are deathly afraid to appear less than in total solidarity with the BLM protests. 

The anarchists don’t care who is president. Their goal is to create chaos and tear down America’s institutions, including the presidency.

As long as they maintain control of the streets, it’s a win for Trump and Republicans. Unless they screw it up.

And that’s what they seem intent on doing. The boneheaded Trump motorcade that sparked the deadly confrontation in Portland played right into the hands of the blame-Trump movement. 

As does the president’s planned visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin Tuesday. Trump must know his appearance in the city will be met with more violence. He’ll get the blame for whatever happens — and deservedly so. But Trump rarely misses a chance to self-destruct. Nor does he ever convincingly distance himself from the hate groups that have gravitated to his presidency.

The best strategy for Trump, the GOP and their supporters is to steer well clear of the riots. Disavow any counterprotests staged in their name. Continue to tie the anarchists to the Democratic officials who make excuses for their rampages. And offer federal help to reclaim the cities. 

Then stand back and watch Democrats fumble an issue that is fast rising in importance with voters. 

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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