- Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, is campaigning on an offer of renewal and unity – and is pledging to overturn key immigration policies of President Donald Trump.
- Trump, in contrast, is hardening the same kind of divisive rhetoric he used before his shock victory in 2016.
- With Democrats holding their first virtual conference, Trump has renewed attacks on immigrants and praised a far-right congressional candidate in Florida.
- Republicans appear to be crafting their conference to focus on cultural wedge issues to further inflame tensions in a way they hope will favour Trump.
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Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention this week plans to pledge to “build back better” if he is elected to serve as the 46th US president.
Biden’s pitch is to renew and unify a nation devastated by the coronavirus and, he says, years of bungling by the administration of President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday he officially received the Democratic nomination, as people from all wings of his party – and even some Republicans – signalled support for his campaign.
Trump, in contrast, is doubling down on wedge issues of immigration and race, stirring the grievances essential to the “culture wars” that loomed large in his 2016 victory.
Trump is seeking to portray himself as the only person capable of renewing the US economy in the wake of the coronavirus. He casts a Biden presidency as a Trojan horse for left-wing extremists waiting to run amok.
The contrast between the two is striking:
- As Democrats prepared for their first virtual conference this week, Trump gave a speech in the border town of Yuma, Arizona, where he boasted of his record of stopping immigrants and refugees from entering the country. He alleged that Democratic policies would leave “aliens with criminal records” free to enter the US, spread disease, and commit crimes.
- Biden, meanwhile, was laying out plans to reverse Trump’s policies, including adding protections for immigrants and admitting more refugees.
- As the second night of the DNC got underway, Trump retweeted several messages in support of the far-right activist Laura Loomer after she won the GOP primary for a House of Representatives seat in Florida. Loomer’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has echoed that spread by Trump, and she had been billed by supporters as an “antidote” to “the squad,” the group of young Democratic congresswomen of colour, two of whom are Muslim.
- Democrats at the DNC conference have highlighted the diversity of their movement, which includes Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris, the first Black woman on a major-party presidential ticket.
- Trump spent much of the past week overtly seeking to depress the vote, by attacking mail-in voting procedures and threatening to starve the US Postal Service of funding. He has repeatedly and falsely claimed that the process is exposed to widespread fraud.
- According to Politico, Trump and the GOP hope to make their conference next week a showcase for ordinary Americans they say are the victims of left-wing cancel culture and mob violence.
- They will include the Covington High School student Nick Sandmann, who sued a slew of publications over their coverage of his encounter with a Native American protester in 2019, and the McCloskeys, a couple who threatened anti-racism protesters near their St. Louis mansion with weapons during June’s anti-racism protests.
With the convention season in full swing, the contrast between the candidates seeking to lead the US through its gravest crisis in recent history could not be starker.