President Trump on Wednesday blamed the looting and street violence in Philadelphia on Joseph R. Biden’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement, while the Democrat said there is “no excuse” for the rioting in a bid to minimize blowback on his front-running campaign in the final week of the race.
“This is a group that he supports,” Mr. Trump said of demonstrators who injured Philadelphia police officers and pillaged big-box stores uncontested. “He doesn’t want to condemn them. You can’t have chaos like that.”
At a campaign stop in Bullhead City, Arizona, the president told more than 4,000 supporters that Mr. Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala D. Harris “stand with the rioters and the vandals.”
“I stand with the heroes of law enforcement,” Mr. Trump said.
The former vice president, whose nominating convention elevated the status of the Black Lives Matter movement, tried to distance himself from the latest violence over the fatal police shooting of a Black man. He said he will establish a commission to address use-of-force standards.
“There is no excuse whatsoever for the looting and the violence — none whatsoever,” Mr. Biden told reporters after voting in Delaware with his wife, Jill. “There are certain things we’re going to have to do as we move along, how you diminish the prospect of lethal shooting in circumstances like the one we saw. But there’s no excuse for the looting.”
As the race entered its final six days, Mr. Trump’s renewed attempts to link Mr. Biden to social unrest was just one line of attack. He also repeated criticisms of the Democrat as corrupt and weak on immigration.
Mr. Biden kept his focus on the coronavirus. He characterized Mr. Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as an “insult” to its victims. The Democrat vowed not to campaign “on the false promises of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch” and pledged to prioritize science.
“Even if I win, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic,” Mr. Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “I do promise this: We will start on Day One doing the right things.”
Arizona is another state where Mr. Biden is forcing the president to play defense. Mr. Trump, who made his seventh trip to the state this year, won it in 2016 but is trailing narrowly in public polls.
At his rally in windy Bullhead City, near the Nevada border, the president alternated between sounding optimistic and at times fatalistic about the election. He also grappled with unusual stagecraft problems, including whiny microphone feedback and hard-to-read teleprompters bouncing in the breeze.
Mr. Trump said he was anticipating a record third-quarter report Thursday on gross domestic product to show how well he is guiding the economic recovery from coronavirus lockdowns.
“If that number’s not big, you don’t even have to vote for me, OK? I’m taking a chance when I say that,” Mr. Trump said.
On Wall Street, markets plunged for the third straight day as investors showed concerns about the lack of another coronavirus stimulus package in Washington.
As he spoke about the stakes in the election, the president urged supporters, “Don’t let a bad thing happen on Tuesday. Don’t let it happen.”
The crowd at one point began chanting, “We love Trump.” The president made an exaggerated gesture of wiping tears from his eyes and joked that he couldn’t cry or the media would report it unfairly.
“You’re so lucky that I took you on this journey,” he told the crowd in a wistful tone.
The president has been trying to blame Mr. Biden and other Democrats since May for the rioting and looting that have hit many major cities across the U.S. in response to police shootings of Black suspects. But even some Republican pollsters say Mr. Trump’s criticisms have worked only with his Republican base.
Mr. Biden said he watched Mr. Trump on TV accusing the Democrat of insufficiently condemning the violence. He said the network then “ran the tape of my just having spoken … saying I condemn the violence.”
“We spend more time shouting and listening and some wonder, you know, if our hearts have turned to stone out there,” Mr. Biden said. “I refuse to believe it.”
The White House said it was standing ready to deploy federal resources, if necessary, to quell the rioting and looting in Philadelphia. The violence escalated after Walter Wallace Jr. was fatally shot by police Monday while wielding a knife.
Mr. Wallace’s family said he suffered from bipolar disorder and was experiencing a mental health crisis during the confrontation.
Mr. Trump also expressed frustration that his accusations of corruption against Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter, are not sticking as well as he would like. He blamed news media and social media platforms.
“Tremendous corruption in the Biden family, but you can’t find it anywhere in the media,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s not in Facebook. Sleepy Joe Biden, with all the corruption, with all the theft, with all the money they took out of these countries that we ended up paying for in spades, you can’t find it in Big Tech. You can’t find it at The Washington Post and The New York Times because they’re crooked. We don’t have freedom of the press. We have suppression of the press.”
One of Mr. Trump’s top advisers on immigration said Wednesday that Mr. Biden would be the “best friend” of child smugglers if he is elected president. He predicted that the Democrat would reverse the president’s crackdown on human trafficking.
“Joe Biden would be the best friend that child smugglers and child traffickers have ever had in the White House,” said Stephen Miller, a top White House aide who said he was speaking in his capacity as a campaign adviser. “His policies would incentivize child smuggling and child trafficking on an epic, global scale.”
Mr. Miller said Mr. Biden would implement a nationwide “catch-and-release” program that would free illegal immigrants within the U.S. to begin the process of seeking asylum, which can take years.
“Within a week of that happening, there would be a rush on the border on a global scale unseen before in the whole of human history,” Mr. Miller said. “It would be the largest gift to traffickers, smugglers and coyotes that you could ever possibly conceive.”
He said border towns in Arizona, where the president is campaigning Wednesday, and other states would be “overwhelmed by the unprecedented influx of people.”
Mr. Miller also said the administration’s announcement Wednesday of a cap of 15,000 refugees for 2021, a record low, should appeal to taxpayers in battleground states such as Michigan and Minnesota. He said those states have borne “disproportionately” the share of resettling refugees from countries such as Somalia, Syria and Yemen, all of which have been barred by Mr. Trump.
The president received major endorsements in Nevada, another battleground, from the Nevada Trucking Association, the Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Retail Association of Nevada.
While Mr. Trump was holding two rallies in Arizona, Ms. Harris also campaigned in the state.
She invoked the late Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and an adversary of Mr. Trump, kicking off her comments by saying she wanted to “start with a little straight talk” about the president and his failed response to COVID-19.
“You know, there has been some talk about my values. Let me just tell you, Tucson, I am a proud, patriotic American. I love my country,” she said. “Our values reflect the values of America. Our values tell us we have witnessed the worst, the biggest disaster of any presidential administration in the history of this country.”
• Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.