Trump Embraces Fringe Theories on Protests and the Coronavirus

“What does President Trump think will happen when he continues to insist on fanning the flames of hate and division in our society and using the politics of fear to whip up his supporters?” Mr. Biden asked. “He is recklessly encouraging violence. He may believe tweeting about law and order makes him strong — but his failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is.”

The latest social media outburst by the president came just days after he accepted the nomination for a second term in an election in which he has been trailing for months. Mr. Trump sought to capitalize on any momentum generated by the Republican National Convention, posting a series of tweets asserting that he is actually leading in polls.

A new poll by Morning Consult, however, showed that Mr. Trump had narrowed Mr. Biden’s lead but that the president still trailed. The survey, conducted on Friday, the day after the conclusion of the Republican convention, found Mr. Biden ahead 50 percent to 44 percent, a six-point lead compared with the former vice president’s 10-point advantage a week ago after his own convention. Another poll by Yahoo News and YouGov likewise showed Mr. Biden’s lead shrinking to six percentage points, down from nine points.

A post-convention bounce is typical in presidential years but it does not always last, and an ABC News-Ipsos poll showed that Mr. Trump did nothing to improve his own standing with voters, only 31 percent of whom reported a favorable view, roughly the same as before the Republican convention. Democrats, however, are growing more concerned that Mr. Trump is successfully using violence in the streets after police shootings of Black Americans to energize his own supporters and tar Mr. Biden and his party as weak on law and order.

In that vein, many of Mr. Trump’s Sunday morning tweets focused on the violence in Portland, where the shooting death of a man exacerbated an already tense situation. The man was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group based in the Portland area that has clashed with protesters before.

Mr. Trump repeatedly assailed Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland for resisting federal help and delighted in showcasing a peaceful protest held at the mayor’s own home on Friday, even retweeting a post accusing the Mr. Wheeler of “committing war crimes.” Rather than calling for calm, Mr. Trump seemed to justify aggressive action against demonstrators by his supporters.

“The big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected after 95 days of watching and incompetent Mayor admit that he has no idea what he is doing,” Mr. Trump wrote, as he retweeted a journalist’s post reporting that Trump supporters were firing paintballs and pepper spray, including at the reporter. “The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!”

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