Joe Biden, in Iowa, says Trump ‘has fanned the flames of white supremacy’
BURLINGTON, Ia. — Returning to Iowa on Wednesday, Joe Biden said President Donald Trump “has fanned the flames of white supremacy” in his response to mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Police say the white man who carried out the shooting in El Paso posted a hate-filled racist missive online and traveled to the largely Latino city to target his victims based on their race.
Trump on Monday condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” but Biden said Trump’s own rhetoric on immigration is echoed in the racist message that the shooter posted online.
“How far is it from Trump saying this ‘is an invasion’ to the shooter in El Paso declaring quote ‘his attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas?'” Biden said to a crowd in Burlington.
In a tweet, Trump responded that Biden is “boring.”
More: ‘This Anglo man came here to kill Hispanics’: After El Paso shooting, will race motivate more violence?
As he has done frequently from the campaign trail, Biden also referenced a 2017 neo-Nazi and far right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one man killed a woman who was part of a group of counter-protesters. After the 2017 event, Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides, a statement that Biden often cites as the moment he decided to run for president.
“In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation,” Biden said.
Trump: Biden ‘sooo boring.’ Biden: Trump should ‘get a life.’
Trump tweeted that he watched Biden’s speech and found it, “sooo boring.”
“Watching Sleepy Joe Biden making a speech. Sooo Boring! The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks with this guy. It will be over for them, not to mention the fact that our Country will do poorly with him. It will be one big crash, but at least China will be happy!” the president tweeted.
Asked about the tweet, Biden responded: “he should get a life.”
Trump’s tweet came after the president visited Dayton to see the victims of that shooting, as well as law enforcement and medical personnel. Trump on Wednesday also visited El Paso.
Referencing Trump’s remarks on Monday, Biden accused Trump of dodging the issue of guns. Biden said he would put in place an assault weapons ban and institute a buyback program for the federal government to purchase weapons whose owners volunteer to get rid of them.
“He says guns are not the problems in mass shootings. The issue is mental health. It’s a dodge. Hatred isn’t a mental health issue,” Biden said, calling for a new law to focus on fighting domestic terrorism.
Biden: Past presidents have united the nation. Not this one.
Biden’s speech also referenced moments when past presidents have united the country to oppose hatred after moments of crisis, including President George W. Bush’s visit to a mosque after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and President Barack Obama’s eulogy in Charleston, South Carolina, after a white gunman killed nine black worshippers at a Bible study.
“Sadly, we don’t have that today. Our president has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation. And that makes winning the battle for the soul of our nation that much tougher,” Biden said.
Bob Bennet, 82, a retired community college president from Burlington, said he liked Biden’s speech and thinks the former vice president has a vision of what the country should be about.
“But I think he needs to shift a bit and talk more about what he’s going to do when he’s president,” Bennett said. “Not so much about what Trump is doing because we all know that he’s doing wrong things. We need to hear what he’s going to do.”
Jaan Sturgis, 66, of Burlington said he agreed with Biden’s comments unequivocally and said he doesn’t believe the country has had a president as awful as Trump in his lifetime.
“The Bushes, even Nixon did not embarrass me as much as this president has,” said Sturgis, the secretary for the Des Moines County Democrats, who is retired and used to own a rental housing business.
Biden will campaign in Iowa for four days, attending several events across the state, including the Iowa State Fair on Thursday. Biden, like at least 10 other Democratic presidential candidates, will join a quickly arranged forum on gun safety in Des Moines on Saturday.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.