Former Vice President Joe Biden plans to say President Donald Trump “has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation” in a speech Wednesday during a campaign swing through Iowa days after two mass shootings killed more than 30 people this past weekend.
He will also say that Trump “has more in common with George Wallace than George Washington” — referring to the segregationist former Alabama governor who unsuccessfully mounted four bids for president as an opponent of the civil rights movement.
Biden, according to excerpts of the speech released by his campaign, will link Trump’s rhetoric to the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where police say the white supremacist accused of killing 22 people on Saturday had posted online a screed warning of a “Hispanic invasion” and echoing Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“How far is it from Trump’s saying this ‘is an invasion’ to the shooter in El Paso declaring ‘his attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas?’ Not far at all,” Biden will say.
“How far is it from the white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville — Trump’s ‘very fine people’ — chanting ‘You will not replace us’ — to the shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh saying Jews ‘were committing genocide to his people?’ Not far at all,” he will say. “In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.”
Biden’s speech is set to take place in Burlington, Iowa, at the start of a four-day swing through the state as the Democratic 2020 front-runner visits the Iowa State Fair and a party event in north-central Iowa.
Meanwhile, Trump will be visiting both El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, the site of the other mass shooting last weekend, to visit with families and first responders.
The excerpts again demonstrate how Biden is casting the stakes of the 2020 election as a test of the character of the nation and its electorate.
In his speech, he plans to compare Trump unfavorably to the four presidents who preceded him: George H.W. Bush, who renounced his National Rifle Association membership amid gun violence; Bill Clinton, who rallied the nation after the Oklahoma City bombing; George W. Bush, who visited a mosque shortly after the 9/11 attacks; and Barack Obama, who sang “Amazing Grace” at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting there in 2015.
According to the excerpts, Biden plans to refer to those four as “presidents who led, who opposed hate, chose to fight for what is best of the American character.”
“We don’t have that today,” he will say. “We have a president who has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation. And that makes winning the battle for the soul of this nation that much harder.”
“Trump offers no moral leadership; no interest in unifying the nation, no evidence the presidency has awakened his conscience in the least,” Biden plans to say. “Instead we have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism, and division.”
He will continue: “So it’s up to us. We’re living through a rare moment in this nation’s history. Where our president isn’t up to the moment. Where our president lacks the moral authority to lead. Where our president has more in common with George Wallace than George Washington.”
“We are almost 330 million Americans who have to do what our president can’t. Stand together. Stand against hate. Stand up for what — at our best — this nation believes.”
One of Biden’s opponents in the Democratic primary, Sen. Cory Booker, will also speak Wednesday in the wake of the mass shooting, renewing his call for stricter gun laws while in Charleston, South Carolina.
“These acts of hatred do not happen in a vacuum,” Booker will say, according to excerpts of his speech released by his campaign. “They are harvested only once they have been planted… You reap what you sow.”