Accepting the GOP nomination for a second term, President Trump took a warm and fuzzy approach. “We are one national family, and we will always protect, love and care for each other,” he said.
But that was so… last week.
In a statement for Oregon’s voters’ guide, Trump lashed out at “failed leaders like the Portland Mayor” and “the radical antifa mob that he coddles.” The content of this statement has not been previously reported.
“For too long, the failed Democrat politicians in Oregon have allowed lawlessness to run rampant,” he said. “Families are less safe and businesses are forced to close their doors, stifling economic prosperity. This is not the America we all know and love.”
There was no mention of the coronavirus pandemic, massive unemployment, racial injustice, or any other issues of potential interest to Oregon voters. Instead, Trump framed the election as a choice between violence and stability.
“This November, it’s up to you to decide what direction this country chooses,” he said. “Will you allow radical leftists who wish to defund our police and export the chaos in Portland to communities across our country? Or will you vote to support our men and women in blue and say no to the dangerous radicals who embrace violent mobs like Antifa.”
The statement appeared to reflect Trump’s push in recent days to make violence by racial justice demonstrators in some US cities the central focus of his campaign. It wasn’t known if the statement was provided to Oregon’s secretary of state, who publishes the voters’ guide, before or after the convention. Laura Fosmire, a spokeswoman for the agency, said Thursday that all materials are filed electronically. “I am not sure we track dates when that information is submitted,” she told WhoWhatWhy.
On Wednesday, the Oregon US Attorney’s Office in Portland filed unusual “civil disorder” charges against three participants for alleged violence during protests. The Oregonian reported that the felony cases “mark a significant detour from past practice in Oregon — federal prosecutors here haven’t used the charge in recent memory.”
In Trump’s acceptance speech August 27, delivered virtually to the GOP convention, he also took a swipe at Oregon.
“If you give power to Joe Biden, the radical left will defund police departments all across America,” Trump said. “They will pass federal legislation to reduce law enforcement nationwide. They will make every city look like Democrat-run Portland, Oregon.”
Earlier this summer, the US Marshals Service deputized state troopers who were sent to Portland to safeguard the downtown federal courthouse. With troopers now returning to help Portland police control demonstrations, the US Attorney’s office said it will evaluate all arrests made by state and local police for potential federal prosecution.
Despite the incendiary tone of Trump’s comments in the voters’ pamphlet, the statement caused barely a ripple. As of Thursday, a review of blogs — conservative or liberal — and Oregon political news sites found no mention of it, and the Associated Press didn’t report on it. Fosmire, the Oregon agency spokeswoman, said she didn’t know how many online visitors had read the statement.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Republican Party announced that it hadn’t gathered enough signatures by Monday’s deadline to force a recall election for Gov. Kate Brown — its second failed attempt to recall the Democratic governor in less than a year.
Thomas Wheatley, an advisor to Brown, pointed out that the governor won the election in 2018 by more than 100,000 votes. “This recall attempt was just the latest political ploy to divert attention away from Trump’s floundering presidency by pitting Oregonians against each other,” Wheatley said. “But the people of Oregon are smarter than that.”
Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from The White House / Flickr.