WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States’ largest police union on Friday endorsed President Donald Trump’s re-election bid, boosting the Republican’s message that he is the candidate of “law and order” amid U.S. protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
The Fraternal Order of Police, which has more than 355,000 members nationally, said Trump had shown his support and understanding for law enforcement officers facing civil unrest around the country in recent months.
“The FOP is proud to endorse a candidate who calls for law and order across our nation,” Patrick Yoes, the union’s national president, said in a statement.
Earlier on Friday, presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign said he had been endorsed by nearly 200 former and current law enforcement officials.
The dueling endorsements came as Trump in recent weeks has emphasized a “law and order” message ahead of the Nov. 3 election, while Biden has tried to shift the focus back to Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has said a Biden presidency would lead to lawlessness, while seeking to tie the former vice president to unrest sparked by police shootings of Black Americans.
Biden has accused Trump of stoking violence with his rhetoric. The Democratic candidate has embraced calls from protesters for policing reforms but has denounced the rioting and looting that have disturbed some of the mostly peaceful protests across the country this summer.
“He has condemned violence of all kinds, and there is no question that I would feel safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Tom Manger, a former police chief in Montgomery County, Maryland, said in a statement distributed by the Biden campaign.
The list of endorsements announced by Biden’s campaign included current and former prosecutors, sheriffs and other law enforcement officials from around the country.
Later on Friday, Biden was set to criticize Trump’s stewardship of the virus-ravaged U.S. economy.
The health crisis, in which more than 186,000 Americans have died, has been overshadowed in recent days by civil unrest in Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a white policeman shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, several times in the back in August.
Trump and Biden both visited Kenosha this week. The president promised to help the city recover from several nights of violent protests and arson, while Biden met with Blake’s family and emphasized racial healing.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)