Joe Biden tried to contrast his leadership with President Trump’s at his first formal in-person campaign event in almost three months as violent protests against police brutality upend cities across the country.
Biden listened to black community leaders in Wilmington, Delaware, for about an hour on Tuesday as unrest, which was prompted by George Floyd’s death while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department last week, continues in cities such as Washington, D.C. At various times, he either donned a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or wore it on his chin.
The presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee first ventured out of his Delaware home on Memorial Day for a wreath-laying ceremony after the state lifted its stay-at-home-order. On the weekend, he also visited the site of Wilmington’s Floyd-inspired protests to see the aftermath of the demonstrations. But Monday’s stop at Wilmington’s Bethel AME Church was his first organized event with potential voters since traditional campaign activities were axed in March due to the coronavirus. Since then, Biden has moved his bid online.
Biden used the opportunity on Monday to clean up his comments to The Breakfast Club radio show host Charlamagne Tha God last month when he said, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” Biden apologized for the remarks but then described Charlamagne Tha God as a “wise guy” who “baited me.”
“I don’t expect anything from the black community,” he told the group on Monday. “It has to be earned every single time.”
At least two speakers at Monday’s listening session encouraged Biden to pick a black female running mate. In response, the two-term vice president said black candidates were on the shortlist, “as well as Latino and white, Caucasian.”
Biden also promised to give “very serious national speeches” in the coming weeks as he and his campaign ready for a general election amid a pandemic.
Floyd, 46, died last Monday after Derek Chauvin, the officer seen in a viral video, arrested and pinned Floyd on the ground by his neck. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Trump has been criticized for his response to the ensuing violence, imploring governors on Monday to “dominate” protesters.
“They’re gonna run over you,” the president said in a phone call. “You’re gonna look like a bunch of jerks.”
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