Donald Trump and some of his top supporters have unleashed a new campaign message in the aftermath of last week’s Dallas police shootings and other instances of violence against law enforcement — one that has echoes of Richard Nixon’s 1968 playbook.
“I am the law and order candidate,” Trump said at a Monday speech in Virginia Beach.
Running on restoring “law and order” was what catapulted Nixon into the White House in 1968, when tensions between law enforcement and civil-rights and anti-war activists boiled over into riots that swept multiple major US cities.
During the beginning of his Monday speech, Trump used the phrase “law and order” multiple times. So did New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a top contender for Trump’s VP spot, who introduced him at the event. And in an interview with Business Insider on Monday, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, another person in consideration to be Trump’s running mate, did the same.
“We must maintain law and order at the highest level or we will cease to have a country,” Trump said. “I am the law and order candidate. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is weak, ineffective, pandering, and, as proven by her recent email scandal, which was an embarrassment not only to her, but to the nation as a whole, she is either a liar or grossly incompetent. Personally, I think she is both.”
“Not only am I the law and order candidate, but I am also the candidate of compassion,” Trump continued. “But you can’t have true compassion without providing safety for the citizens of the United States. Every kid in America should be able to securely walk the streets in their own neighbourhood. Everyone will be protected equally and treated justly, without prejudice. We will be tough, we will be smart, we will be fair — and we will protect all Americans. Without safety, we have nothing!”
In Dallas, five officers were killed and nine other people injured after a sniper, who later told police he wanted to kill white police officers, opened fire. The incident came the end of a peaceful protest for the recent police-involved shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. In the days since, police and activists have sparred at protests across the country.
“We need a president who will once again put law and order at the top of the priority of the presidency in this country,” Christie said Monday, later adding, “Lawlessness will not be tolerated from anyone no matter how powerful or lack of power those people may have. Law and order needs to be the first priority again in our country.”
In his interview with Business Insider on Monday, Flynn said “some form of anarchy” has taken over streets in major US cities within the past 48 hours because people “don’t respect the law-enforcement professionals.”
“We have got to respect the rule of law in this country,” he said. “We have got to respect the rule of law in this country.”
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