Joseph R. Biden Jr faces a crosscurrent of pressures as protests continue to batter Portland, Ore., and Kenosha, Wis. On one side is President Trump, who is trying to blame Mr. Biden for the unrest as he presses the theme of his convention — remember that? It was last week — that a Biden presidency would lead to disorder and crime. He has repeatedly used false claims to portray Mr. Biden as anti-law enforcement.
On the other are some Democrats who have always been a little wary of Mr. Biden’s political fortitude against a candidate like Mr. Trump. Some are concerned that the Democratic standard-bearer has been slow to push back on the notion that Democrats are responsible for violence taking place under the Trump presidency.
Mr. Trump, who spent Sunday and Monday morning bashing the mayor of Portland on Twitter over the unrest there, plans to travel on Tuesday to Kenosha, where disturbances broke out after a white police officer shot and paralyzed a Black man.
Mr. Biden, for his part, released a statement Sunday on the Portland shooting in which he charged Mr. Trump with fomenting the very unrest that the president is trying to blame Mr. Biden and other Democrats for.
“I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same,” Mr. Biden wrote. “It is not a peaceful protest when you go out spoiling for a fight. 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?”
Today, Mr. Biden is to give a speech in the Pittsburgh area. His campaign said it would “lay out a core question voters face in this election: are you safe in Donald Trump’s America?” The question tweaks a Trump ad that warns, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
Up until now, Mr. Biden has run a deliberately cautious campaign — largely staying out of the way and letting Mr. Trump, as one Democrat put it, run against Mr. Trump. But as the general election begins, and with Mr. Biden under attack and the country racked by such turmoil, a lot of Democrats are looking to see how aggressively Mr. Biden engages Mr. Trump at what feels like a critical point in their competition.
The fatal shooting in Portland, Ore., over the weekend capped a volatile week of street violence that increasingly hangs over the 2020 race.
On Saturday, a man affiliated with a right-wing group was shot and killed as a large caravan of supporters of Mr. Trump drove through downtown Portland, where nightly protests have unfolded for three consecutive months. No suspect has been publicly identified and the victim’s name has not been released.
The shooting came in the same week that a 17-year-old armed with a military-style weapon was charged with homicide in connection with shootings during a protest in Kenosha, Wis., that left two people dead and one injured.
The pro-Trump rally in Portland drew hundreds of trucks filled with supporters and adorned with Trump flags and American flags into the city. At times, Trump supporters and counterprotesters clashed in the streets, with fistfights occurring and Trump supporters shooting paintball guns from the beds of pickup trucks as protesters threw objects at them.
The shooting that night immediately reverberated in a presidential campaign now entering its most intense period, and came on the heels of a Republican National Convention in which the president had sought to reframe the 2020 race as a “law and order” election.
President Trump unleashed an especially intense barrage of Twitter messages over the weekend, embracing fringe conspiracy theories claiming that the coronavirus death toll has been exaggerated and that street protests are actually an organized coup d’état against him.
In a concentrated predawn burst, the president posted or reposted 89 messages between 5:49 a.m. and 8:04 a.m. on Sunday on top of 18 the night before, many of them inflammatory comments or assertions about violent clashes in Portland, Ore., where a man wearing the hat of a far-right, pro-Trump group was shot and killed Saturday after a large group of Mr. Trump’s supporters traveled through the streets. He resumed on Sunday night.
In the blast of social media messages, Mr. Trump also embraced a call to imprison Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, threatened to send federal forces against demonstrators outside the White House, attacked CNN and NPR, embraced a supporter charged with murder, mocked his challenger, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and repeatedly assailed the mayor of Portland, even posting the mayor’s office telephone number so that supporters could call demanding his resignation.
One of the most incendiary messages was a retweet of a program from the One America News Network, a pro-Trump channel that advances extreme theories and that the president has turned to when he feels that Fox News has not been supportive enough. The message he retweeted Saturday night promoted a segment accusing demonstrators of secretly plotting Mr. Trump’s downfall.
“According to the mainstream media, the riots & extreme violence are completely unorganized,” the tweet said. “However, it appears this coup attempt is led by a well funded network of anarchists trying to take down the President.” Accompanying it was an image of a promo for a segment titled “America Under Siege: The Attempt to Overthrow President Trump.”
A group of Republicans dedicated to defeating President Trump is going on the attack on Florida, preparing a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign aimed at undercutting Mr. Trump with moderate and independent voters in the country’s largest swing state.
The organization, Republican Voters Against Trump, has assembled parts of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s political operation to launch the offensive, which it has dubbed “Project Orange Crush.” Mike Murphy, an architect of Mr. Bush’s campaigns in the state and strategist for Mr. Bush’s 2016 super PAC, is directing the campaign, aided by David B. Hill, a former Bush pollster, and Tim Miller, a former Bush spokesman.
Mr. Murphy said in an interview that the group had already raised several million dollars for the campaign and had conducted polling and focus groups in the state. He said it planned to focus on several hundred thousand voters who could be the political tipping point in a state where elections are routinely decided by a percentage point or less.
Mr. Murphy said the group’s research had found a large number of moderate suburbanites and retirees, including along Florida’s western coastline and the Jacksonville area in the state’s northeastern corner, who were open to voting for Mr. Biden but needed some additional persuasion to break their typical preference for the G.O.P.
“There are cracks in the wall, but they need a few good sledgehammer blows,” Mr. Murphy said.
The Florida campaign is the latest of several aggressive steps recently by Republican Voters Against Trump, a group founded by the former Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Sarah Longwell, a Republican political strategist.
Earlier this month, the organization unveiled a video featuring Miles Taylor, a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security under Mr. Trump, detailing what he called “dangerous” and “terrifying” behavior by the president.
The group’s strategists explained their choice to focus on Florida in a memo: If Mr. Biden were to capture the state’s 29 electoral votes, he would likely need to win only one other major battleground state, such as Michigan or Wisconsin, to deny Mr. Trump a second term. Their campaign is aimed at about 450,000 Floridians in the political middle who they believe are capable of deciding the race.
While some Democrats have grown frustrated with Florida because of the high cost of campaigning there and its persistent tilt to the right in state-level elections, the memo argued that Florida could help counter Mr. Trump’s efforts to polarize the Midwestern states along purely racial lines.
“It is no secret that Trump will use reckless and racially inflammatory language and grievance politics to try to rally his voters,” the memo said, adding, “Unlike those states, with large majority white populations, Florida’s electorate is far more diverse.”
The group said it would use a mix of television and online advertising, and Mr. Murphy said radio and direct-mail advertising would also be in the mix. The ads are slated to start after Labor Day.
“What we are going to do is go right at the suburbanites,” Mr. Murphy said, “and surround them.”
The decision by the nation’s top intelligence official to halt classified, in-person briefings to Congress about foreign interference in a presidential election that is just nine weeks away exposes the fundamental tension about who needs to know this information: just the president, or the voters whose election infrastructure, and minds, are the target of the hacking?
The intelligence agencies are built to funnel a stream of secret findings to the president, his staff and the military to inform their actions.
President Trump has made it abundantly clear that he does not believe the overwhelming evidence, detailed in thousands of pages of investigative reports by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee and indictments of Russian intelligence officers by his own Justice Department, that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election, and is at it again.
One of the bitter lessons of the last election is that hose defending against disinformation campaigns include not just the president and his staff but also state and city election officials; Facebook, Twitter and Google; and voters themselves, who need to know who is generating or amplifying the messages they see running across their screens.
And if they do not understand the threat assessments, they will enter the most critical phase of the election — those vulnerable weeks when everything counts and adversaries have a brief window to take their best shot — without understanding the battle space.
So it is no surprise that as soon as word leaked about the decision by the director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, to give Congress only written updates about the latest intelligence, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. led the parade of accusations that Mr. Trump was paving the way for a second round of election interference.
“Nothing is more important than the security and integrity of our elections,” Mr. Biden, said in a statement on Saturday. “And we know that President Trump is unwilling to take action to protect them. That leaves Congress as the best defender of our democracy.
“There can be only one conclusion: President Trump is hoping Vladimir Putin will once more boost his candidacy and cover his horrific failures to lead our country through the multiple crises we are facing,” Mr. Biden added. “And he does not want the American people to know the steps Vladimir Putin is taking to help Trump get re-elected or why Putin is eager to intervene, because Donald Trump’s foreign policy has been a gift to the Kremlin.”
A project from the National Domestic Workers Alliance called the We Dream in Black initiative on Monday morning released its “Unbossed Women’s Agenda,” which outlines economic and social policies that aim to transform domestic work and infrastructure to support not only Black domestic workers, but also their communities.
“Domestic work is the first way Black women’s labor has been used and exploited in this country,” Aimée-Josiane Twagirumukiza, the organizing director of the workers group, said in an interview. “The importance of having a Black domestic workers agenda is to address that — to address the foundation of how the society views Black women’s labor in general.”
Domestic workers are at the center of the coronavirus pandemic, facing heightened risks as they continue to work long hours, often for low pay. As caregivers and nurses, Black women constitute 28 percent of all women working in home care, while representing about 7 percent of the population.
The agenda wasn’t meant to be a recovery plan for the pandemic; it has been in the works for about a year. But the timing of its release coincides with the rising political debate over how to go about the economic recovery.
“It’s definitely something that we want to be anchored with an economic recovery plan,” Ms. Twagirumukiza said. She added that the pandemic had shown people that the economic recovery will have to focus on more than just on jobs and labor protections. “It also has to be coupled with other things in terms of a new care infrastructure,” she said.
Those changes, in the workers alliance’s eyes, include passing the federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act, which was introduced last summer by Senator Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic vice presidential nominee. They would also mean enacting things like Medicare expansion, raising the minimum wage, instituting universal family care, securing better housing and passing an immigration overhaul.
“It’s really important now that we can reimagine what our economy looks like, that we can reimagine what work looks like,” said Jennifer Dillon, the director at the workers alliance. She called the plan an opportunity to “re-envision what work could look like for Black women who are oftentimes the first to lose income and the last to receive any kind of support or structural relief.”
Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III is trailing Senator Edward J. Markey in every poll ahead of the Democratic Senate primary in Massachusetts on Tuesday, and may become the first Kennedy to lose a race in the state.
He is struggling with idealistic young liberals and older, affluent white Democrats, the sort of voters who in an earlier era idolized his grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy, and his great-uncles.
Mr. Kennedy pointed to his strength with working-class Democrats and voters of color who are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, all but scorning what he suggested was the hypocrisy of white liberals.
“For a progressive left that says that they care about these racial inequities, these structural inequities, economic inequities, health care inequities, the folks that are on the other side of that are overwhelmingly supporting me in this race,” he said. “Yet there seems to be a cognitive dissonance.”
It wasn’t supposed to be this way — at least not in the minds of Massachusetts Democrats, who have spent a lifetime watching a parade of Kennedys win elections against little opposition. When Mr. Kennedy first considered challenging Mr. Markey last year, some in the party wondered if the 74-year-old incumbent would step aside for the 39-year-old political scion.
Instead, Mr. Markey, who was elected to the House before Mr. Kennedy was born, has harnessed the energy of the ascendant left and wielded his rival’s gilded legacy against him. And he has used his support from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and their joint authorship of the Green New Deal to establish himself as the clear front-runner.
Mr. Markey’s strength illustrates the growing clout of progressives in the Democratic Party, particularly in states and districts that are heavily metropolitan and filled with well-educated voters. Each of the Democrats who have unseated incumbents in primaries in 2018 or this year did so in House seats anchored in cities or close-in suburbs, which is where most of the votes in Massachusetts can be found.
What’s so striking about the Senate race here, though, is that it’s the incumbent who framed himself as the bold insurgent.