President Donald Trump launched into a long campaign-rally-style attack on Joe Biden during a speech in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday.
The setting is normally used for official presidential announcements, and it is against White House protocol to launch campaign attacks against political rivals in speeches there.
Trump's trademark rallies were called off during the early months of the coronavirus crisis. A planned rally in New Hampshire, scheduled for this past Saturday, was also canceled at the last minute.
President Donald Trump speaking with the news media in the Rose Garden at the White House on Tuesday.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
President Donald Trump broke White House protocol on Tuesday by using a Rose Garden speech to launch a series of rally-like attacks on his Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden.
The rambling, hour-long speech on Tuesday afternoon had been billed as a statement by the president on the situation in Hong Kong, where China recently unveiled a draconian new security law that has already had a chilling effect on pro-democracy protests.
But Trump repeatedly veered off topic and attacked Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, instead.
At one point, he listed a series of claims about Biden that appeared to have been drawn from an opposition-research document.
—The Hill (@thehill) July 15, 2020
The speech came days after the president was forced to cancel a reelection rally in New Hampshire on Saturday. According to NBC News, advisers feared low attendance given coronavirus fears and bad weather forecasts.
Instead, the president launched the rally-style partisan speech in the setting of the Rose Garden, which historically has been where the president delivers official announcements and not campaign speeches.
Though the Hatch Act of 1939 bars White House officials from political campaigning, it does not apply to the president.
Many observers, however, saw Trump's use of the Rose Garden speech to attack Biden as a serious breach of protocol.
—jonkarl (@jonkarl) July 14, 2020
Trump began by announcing plans to sign into law a congressional bill sanctioning China over its Hong Kong crackdown, before launching into attacks on Biden.
"Joe Biden's entire career has been a gift to the Chinese Communist Party and to the calamity of errors that they've made," Trump said.
Later, Trump started listing a series of policies he claimed had been drawn up by a task force of staffers working for Biden and the former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Trump said Biden was seeking to "abolish prisons" and "mandate net-zero carbon emissions for homes, offices, and all new buildings by 2030," which he claimed "basically means no windows, no nothing."
Earlier, Biden had given a speech in Delaware in which he unveiled a $2 trillion plan to cut carbon emissions.
—Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) July 14, 2020
At one point in the Rose Garden speech, Trump also asked, "Where's Hunter?" — a popular catchphrase at the president's campaign rallies that alludes to unsubstantiated allegations about Biden's son Hunter's work in Ukraine.
Trump trails Biden in national polls amid criticism of Trump's response to the George Floyd anti-racism protests and the coronavirus pandemic, with infection rates still climbing in many states.
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