By JACK ARNHOLZ, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The Republican governor from Ohio and a Democratic congresswoman from Florida called for peaceful demonstrations Sunday after recent violent clashes between protesters.
“We want to respect protestors, but we don’t want to tolerate violence. And that’s always the line. We want to support our police,” Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told ABC’s This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz, touting a bipartisan bill in the state legislature to that end.
“It’s been well thought out,” DeWine said of the bill, saying that it also “calls for some very significant police reform.”
“The foundation of every great community really is the opportunity to live in a safe community,” Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., said in a separate interview on This Week.
“We also need to understand what truly makes America the great wonderful country that it is. And that’s an individual’s right to protest, so our job is to make sure that peaceful protesters are able to exercise their right guaranteed under the First Amendment, but we also have to make sure that those who break the law … be held accountable,” she added.
DeWine and Demings spoke to Raddatz about the ongoing nationwide protests following the recently released video of a deadly arrest of an unarmed Black man in Rochester, New York, and the killing of a pro-Trump demonstrator in Portland, Oregon.
President Donald Trump and his administration have blamed the violence, in part, on state and local officials who either did not or were slow to accept assistance from the federal government.
When pressed by Raddatz about whether his Oregon and Wisconsin counterparts should have embraced federal support, the Ohio governor said, “I don’t know that. They have to deal with the problem. They’re the ones who are on the ground.”
“We’ve had a number of protests in Ohio. We worked very closely with our mayors. We’ve given them support whenever they ask for it with the National Guard,” DeWine added.
Both Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week, following the protests there in the wake of police shooting Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man.
While a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll showed that 55% of voters think Trump’s rhetoric on the protests is making the unrest worse, 49% think Biden’s response “doesn’t have much of an effect one way or the other.”
“President Donald John Trump is the commander in chief. And so the buck stops with him,” said Demings, who was reportedly on Biden’s vice presidential short list. “While America was going through civil unrest in all 50 states — quite frankly, America was on fire — we had a president, a commander in chief, who was walking around with a gasoline can, not trying to sow peace and calm, but actually throwing fire on an already volatile situation.”
“I believe that Vice President Biden is on the right track. You’ve heard him talk about peaceful protest, but he also talked about accountability,” she added.
With the presidential election entering its final two months, both Demings’ Florida and DeWine’s Ohio represent key battlegrounds in the 2020 race.
In an earlier segment on This Week, Raddatz spoke with voters in Ohio about their thoughts on the race with 58 days until Election Day. Many voters referred to the president’s rhetoric on law and order.
“(Trump’s) not speaking to me and he’s not speaking for me,” Elisia Triggs, a voter in the Cincinnati suburbs, told Raddatz.
Other Ohioans conveyed more supportive sentiments toward the president, including Lynn Kinkaid, a resident of Hamilton, Ohio, who said, “I think (Trump) almost walks on water.”
DeWine expressed confidence about the president’s chances in his home state, telling Raddatz, “It’s going to be a close race in Ohio. I think the president will win Ohio. But Ohio’s always going to be a battleground state.”
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