Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said President Donald Trump is the first racist president in U.S. history, a statement that overlooks numerous presidents who either owned slaves or were overtly discriminatory toward racial minorities.
During a virtual town hall organized by the Service Employees International Union on Wednesday, Biden responded to a question about President Trump calling COVID-19 the "China virus" by claiming that not only is Trump a racist, but he's the first racist ever to become president.
"The way he deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they're from, is absolutely sickening," Biden said. "No sitting president has ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president. We've had racists, and they've existed. They've tried to get elected president. He's the first one that has."
Biden says Trump is America's first racist president: "We’ve had racists, and they’ve existed, they’ve tried to get… https://t.co/76Pnwf9bQP— The Recount (@The Recount)1595450736.0
The comment was so incorrect and exaggerated that it may have received more backlash from Democrats than from Republicans. In claiming that Trump is the first racist to be elected president, Biden skips over presidents who owned slaves, presidents who condoned slavery, presidents who either actively implemented or passively accepted overt systemic racism and segregation, and presidents who supported the Ku Klux Klan.
Biden's campaign attempted to add context to Biden's remarks afterward, acknowledging past racist presidents but still attempting to emphasize President Trump's own alleged racism.
"There have been a number of racist American presidents, but Trump stands out — especially in modern history — because he made running on racism and division his calling card and won," senior adviser Symone Sanders said, according to NBC News. "He deliberately foments both, intentionally causing indescribable pain because he thinks it advantages him politically."
Biden has his own history of remarks and policy decisions that could be deemed racist by some. Biden was opposed to federal busing efforts to desegregate schools, a stance for which Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) called out the former vice president during an early Democratic primary debate.
Biden authored the 1994 crime bill that led to mass incarceration and harsh sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses, which disproportionately impacted minority communities. Some of the effects of that bill were softened by the Trump administration's bipartisan criminal justice reform bill.
Even earlier this year, Biden was criticized for saying that people who are unsure whether they'll vote for him or for Trump aren't really black, reinforcing a negative and false stereotype that black voters have to blindly support Democrats in all circumstances.
(H/T: Hot Air)