KENOSHA, Wis. (NewsNation) — President Donald Trump visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, to survey damage from riots that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
While there, Trump promised to rebuild Kenosha and provide more federal spending to Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a political battleground state that Trump won narrowly in 2016 and needs to keep in his column as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3.
The president visited a burned-out furniture store that was destroyed in the upheaval and then a makeshift command center to praise National Guard troops who were called in to reinforce local police after several nights of peaceful protests gave way to looting, arson and gunfire.
“These are not acts of peaceful protest, but really domestic terror,” Trump told a group of local business leaders in a high school gym, flanked by his Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
In the company of law enforcement, the president pledged to provide $1 million in federal support to Kenosha law enforcement, $4 million to small businesses, and $42 million to public safety statewide, contrasting that with some calls to “defund the police.”
“We have to condemn the dangerous anti-police rhetoric. It’s getting more and more. It’s very unfair,” Trump said.
After days of sometimes violent protests, Kenosha has been quieter of late. The president Tuesday sympathized with the cop on the beat.
“All of a sudden they’re faced with the decision. They have a quarter of a second to make a decision. If they make a wrong decision one war or the other they are either dead or they are in big trouble,” Trump said.
The president has followed a law and order message this summer, saying he does not believe there was systemic racism in police forces, and adding that the shootings of Jacob Blake and other African Americans were aberrations that get corrected.
The state’s Democratic governor and the city’s Democratic mayor had urged Trump to avoid Kenosha to prevent inflaming tensions and allow citizens to heal, but the president dismissed their appeals in order to show support for law enforcement and business owners whose stores were looted and set ablaze.
Trump did not visit Blake, who was paralyzed from the waist down after a white police officer fired at his back seven times on Aug. 23, nor his family, but did meet with his mother’s pastor, Sharon Ward.
“I think we need to mobilize people of prayer to pray for this country. And also I think it’s important to have Black people at the table to help solve the problem.” Ward said.
In advance of the president’s trip to Wisconsin, former Vice President Joe Biden took to Twitter.
“We need a president who will lower the temperature and bring the country together,” Biden wrote. “Not one who raises it and tears us further apart.”
Biden had no events today, but the president indicated his opponent wasn’t in control of his campaign anyway. Asked last night who is controlling Biden’s campaign, the president said this:
“People that you’ve never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows….they’re people that are on the streets. They’re people that are controlling the streets.”
While the president did not meet with Jacob Blakes family during his time in Kenosha, he did say, “I feel terribly for anybody that goes through that.”
Reuters contributed to this report.