President Trump speaks in Minneapolis, Mankato, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin

David Jackson and Michael Collins
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP arrives during a visit to Basler Flight Service on Monday, Aug. 17, at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis. The president flew to Oshkosh following his visit at the Mankato Regional Airport.

Editor’s note: The following article, titled, “Trump tries to steal political spotlight from Biden as Democrats open convention” is by David Jackson and Michael Collins, USA TODAY. The Herald-Dispatch is part of the USA TODAY network.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 – Seeking to preempt the Democratic National Convention’s opening day, President Donald Trump attacked rival Joe Biden on Monday as a “Trojan horse for socialism” and said his agenda would unleash crime, chaos and corruption on the nation’s suburbs.

Trump’s remarks came as Democrats unveiled their lineup for Monday’s virtual speeches, showcasing the president’s effort to steal some political attention away from Biden as he prepares to accept his party’s presidential nomination.

During the first stops of a weeklong tour to counter the Democrats’ events, Trump accused the former vice president and other Democrats of waging “a left-wing war on cops” and suggested their sympathies lie with “lawbreakers and criminals.”

“Mine lie with law-abiding, hardworking Americans,” he said during brief remarks at the airport in Minneapolis.

Trump poked fun at former first lady Michelle Obama for taping a speech to be played at the Democratic convention and mocked California Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate, for ending her own presidential bid before the first votes were cast.

“She finished so badly. ... She went down like a rock in water,” he said.

At a separate airport event in Mankato, Trump accused Biden of supporting “every globalist attack on the American worker.” If Biden is elected president, “we’ll end up with one boring socialist country that'll go to hell,” Trump said.

Biden spokesman Andrew Bates countered that Trump’s failed leadership has cost thousands of American lives from COVID-19 and plunged the USA into one of the worst recessions on record.

“His presidency stands for crisis, lies and toxic attempts to drive Americans apart – the opposite of what voters are hungry for and what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent,” Bates said. “While these fly-in, fly-out airport sideshows might protect Trump from seeing the damage that he has done to communities throughout this country, they will only underscore why we have to win this battle for the soul of our nation.”

In Mankato, Trump spent little time discussing his response to the coronavirus pandemic, except to blame the health crisis for the nation’s economic problems. Claiming he would have to rebuild the economy a second time, Trump joked, “That's God testing me.”

As in other campaign speeches, Trump mixed discussion of national issues – the economy, foreign policy – with local concerns such as the protests against racism and iron ore mining in Minnesota. He slammed the Green New Deal, a package of proposals pushed by liberal Democrats to address climate change and economic inequality, as another social program that won't work.

“It’s like written by a child,” he said. “It's written by a child – a foolish child.”

At times, Trump struggled to read his prepared remarks because his teleprompter kept swaying in strong winds. “I'm sort of making it up as I go along,” he said.

In Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Trump told supporters that Democrats would abolish the suburbs by allowing “far-left Washington bureaucrats to force the construction of low-income housing projects in every neighborhood in America.” Democrats say Trump is trying to scare suburbanites by equating low-income housing with people of color.

Dismissing polls that showed him trailing Biden, Trump insisted his campaign is generating more enthusiasm than even four years ago. “We have never had the enthusiasm that we have right now,” he said.