With centuries of institutional racism coming to a head in 2020, it’s been a bit of disconnect to see a 74-year-old white Republican and a 77-year-old white Democrat battle for the presidency. Trump and Biden did little to dispel that disconnect.
Watch the moment from the debate in the player above.
Welker offered both multiple opportunities to talk directly to Black Americans. Both men said they understood the challenges Black citizens face, but the segment amounted mostly to them blasting each other.
Biden said Trump “pours fuel on every racist fire” and noted that at his last debate the president wouldn’t condemn white supremacy and told an extremist group to “stand down and stand by.”
The former vice president also called Trump “one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history.”
Trump portrayed himself as a champion of Black people. Repeating his standard line that no president has done more for Black Americans than anyone other than Abraham Lincoln, Trump accused Biden and former President Barack Obama of ignoring issues of racial justice.
Trump told Biden: “You’ve done nothing but the crime bill which put tens of thousands of Black men in jail.”
Biden said he’s been trying to change drug sentencing laws that disproportionately harmed African Americans and that the public knows his record.
Trump, touting criminal justice reform and opportunity zone bills he signed, said: “I am the least racist person in this room.”
Trump later on attacked Biden over his support for a 1994 crime bill, part of a furious, larger back-and-forth over racism.
Trump said the legislation “did such harm to the Black community.”
Biden has called the law a mistake in the past, and he reiterated that Thursday. Biden said, “The fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America.”
The discussion over race in the country then stretched on for several minutes, with Biden sarcastically seizing on Trump’s fondness for saying he’s done more for African Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln by referring to Trump as “Abraham Lincoln over here.”
Trump said that Biden had four years as vice president to combat racism but failed to do so.
Trump says, “You’re all talk and no action, Joe.”
Biden said Trump was race baiting, saying that the president “has a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.”