“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” the president said, seemingly referencing Black Lives Matter protesters.
The Black Lives Matter protests began following the May 25 death of George Floyd. Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department after an officer pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death led to nationwide demonstrations against racial inequality and police brutality.
Trump took aim at the press, accusing members of the media of “slandering” not only him and other Republicans, but also the military forces.
“You not only slander me, you not only slander American people, but you slander generations of heroes who gave their lives for America.”
“You slander people much braver and more principled than you… You are dishonoring people fighting for freedom in the Civil War — you slander them,” the president continued, criticizing media coverage of the protests.
One of the protesters’ demands was to remove Confederate statues and memorials from public places. In some states, the demonstrators toppled and vandalized the statues.
The commander-in-chief also discussed the coronavirus pandemic, stating that the nation has “made a lot of progress” in dealing with the virus. He also pointed out that the mortality rate has declined, arguing that his administration now knows how to handle COVID-19 outbreaks.
As The Hill noted, Trump’s speech differed greatly from his 2019 address.
During last year’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial, the president avoided politics, dedicating the event to U.S. armed forces. Saturday’s speech contained attacks on the president’s political opponents and came as he continues to lag behind the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden in the polls.
In a video message published earlier in the day, Trump said that America “will be greater than ever before,” suggesting that the country is on its way to beating the coronavirus. The president blamed China for the outbreak, arguing that the economy is recovering as well.
Biden also published a video message, but he refrained from mentioning Trump. Instead, the Democrat focused on civil rights and racial inequality. The former vice president said that Americans now have a chance to “rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.”
Although Biden chose not to mention Trump in his address, he made sure to attack the president in a column penned for NBC News. In the op-ed, he promised to undo Trump’s policies and focus on rebuilding “America’s foundation.”