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Trump broke protocol to attack Biden in rally-style Rose Garden speech

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  • 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 historically 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 last Saturday, was also cancelled at the last minute.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump broke White House protocol on Tuesday by using a Rose Garden speech to launch a series of rally-like attacks on 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 designed to quell pro-democracy protests. 

But Trump repeatedly veered off topic and attacked Biden, the presumptive 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, which are attacks compiled by political campaigns against opponents. 

The speech came days after the president was forced to cancel a reelection rally in New Hampshire last Saturday. According to NBC News, advisers feared low attendance caused by coronavirus fears and bad weather forecasts.

Instead, the president launched the rally-style partisan speech in the setting of the Rose Garden, which is historically where the president delivers official announcements, and not campaign speeches.

Though the Hatch Act of 1939 bans White House officials from political campaigning, it does not apply to the president.

However, many observers saw Trump’s use of the Rose Garden speech to attack Biden as a serious breach of protocol. 

Trump began by announcing that he was signing 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,” said Trump, in an apparent bid to portray himself as a tough on China in contrast to the former vice president.

Later, Trump started listing a series of potential policies which he claimed had been drawn up by a task force of staffers working for Biden and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. 

Trump claimed that 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 unveiled plans for a $2 trillion scheme to cut carbon emissions in a speech in Delaware. 

At one point in the Rose Garden speech, Trump also asked: “Where’s Hunter?” — a nod to the false claim that Biden’s son, Hunter, was involved in corruption in Ukraine. The phrase is a popular catchphrase in the president’s campaign rallies.

Trump currently trails Biden in national polls amid criticism of his response to the George Floyd anti-racism protests and the coronavirus pandemic, with infection rates still climbing in many states.  

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