U.S. Republican presidential contender Donald Trump declared himself the "law and order candidate" on Monday, saying Americans had to both end "our hostility" toward police and improve life for people in "inner-cities rife with crime."
"Too many Americans are trapped in fear, violence and poverty," the billionaire real estate mogul told a campaign rally in the mid-Atlantic city of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
He spoke as Americans are still reeling from last week's violence in which police shot and killed two African-American men at point blank range – one in Louisiana and one in Minnesota – days before a black gunman targeted white police officers in revenge in Dallas, Texas, gunning down five policemen.
Trump, set to become the official Republican presidential nominee at the party's national convention next week, said, "Our police officers rush into danger every single day to protect our communities and they often do it thanklessly and under relentless criticism. We support you and will always, always, always stand with you.
"The attack on our Dallas police is an attack on our country," Trump said. "Our whole nation is in mourning and will be for a very long time."
He said, "America's police and law enforcement personnel are what separates civilization from total chaos and the destruction of our country as we know it." Trump said that anyone who wants police presence curbed in inner-city neighborhoods is hurting the country's most vulnerable people.
"It's time for our hostility against our police and against all members of law enforcement to end and end immediately, right now," he said.
At the same time, Trump said the "tragic deaths" in Louisiana and Minnesota "make clear that the work must be done to ensure, and a lot of work, that Americans feel that their safety is protected. Have to do it. We have to get better -- better, sharper, smarter."
He attacked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as "weak, ineffective and pandering."
Trump contended that last week's Federal Bureau of Investigation report on her handling of classified material on a private email server while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 showed that she was "either a liar or grossly incompetent, one or the other. Personally, it's probably both."
Clinton has pushed back against the contention of FBI chief James Comey that she was "extremely careless" in her handling of the email.
“Whatever they sent me they did not believe, and in my view had no reason to believe, it was classified at the time,” she said last week in television interviews. "I take classified material seriously."
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran a spirited campaign against Clinton before falling short of the Democratic nomination, is set to endorse her at a joint political rally Tuesday in the northeastern state of New Hampshire.