Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in his first in-person campaign event in more than two months pledged if elected president he will address “institutional racism” in his first 100 days as he spoke with African American leaders to address the outrage and protests surrounding George Floyd’s death.
“We’re going to make sure that the economic recovery deals with institutional structure, institutional racism, that need to be fixed,” Biden told an audience at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware Monday morning, vowing if he wins the White House, he’ll “significantly increase economic opportunity that’s across the board” to fight the roots of institutional racism as well as set up a police oversight body in his first 100 days in office.
The former vice president added that he plans to deliver “what I hope to be very serious national speeches,” about the future and the direction of the country.
“I don’t need help to elect me. I need help and advice as we go on as to what I should and shouldn’t be doing,” Biden said, before adding that his campaign will begin rolling out next a new economic proposal “focused heavily on housing, education, access to capital.”
He added, “The ultimate answer for every other group has been access to economic opportunity. What is the future? The future is you gotta be able to get out of bed and think, ‘I can make it, I can do something. The deck’s not completely stacked.'”
Biden told the fourteen community leaders and local lawmakers in attendance that President Trump is at fault, without mentioning his name in saying that he has fomented racism.
“He said, ‘there were fine people on both sides. No president’s ever said that,” Biden said. “Hate just hides. It doesn’t go away. And when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate into the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks. It matters what the president says…a president’s words can take a nation to war during peace.”
“The Band-Aid has been ripped off by this pandemic and this president. Nobody can pretend any longer what this is all about. Nobody can pretend who has been carrying this on their back. It’s been minorities,” Biden added.
The former vice president also criticized Trump for the other major crisis facing the nation – the coronavirus pandemic.
“This COVID epidemic has basically shut down the country in the last three months. And, by the way, if we’d shut it down a month earlier, we’d have probably another 45 to 60,000 people would be alive instead of dead,” Biden said. “I’m going to say something outrageous – he didn’t listen to guys like me in January, saying we have a problem.”
He insisted that he doesn’t take African American vote for granted, reiterating these comments after facing heavy criticism for his controversial remarks he made during a nationally syndicated hip-hop radio show for insinuating that black voters who are undecided and have a “problem figuring out” on whether to vote for him or President Trump, then they “ain’t black.”
“I want to make something clear. I don’t expect anything from the black community,” Biden said. “I didn’t take — I’ve never taken for granted, not one single moment. I’ve never, ever, ever done that. It has to be earned. Earned every single time.”
Biden also urged black voters to come out to vote to take not only the White House but the Senate where Republicans now hold a 53-seat majority.
“It’s not enough to win back the presidency. We have to win back the Senate,” Biden said. “We have to change the leadership in the Senate. Mitch McConnell cannot remain as the majority leader.”
During the event, Biden was asked about his search of a Vice President, in which he responded that he promises “there are multiple African American candidates being considered.”
“I promise you, there are multiple African American candidates being considered,” Biden emphasized. “As well– well, as Latino, as well as white Caucasian. But one of the things that I realized is that, if you take a look at my campaign– my campaign looks like the country.”
Biden also was asked about his record, with one participant raising his involvement in the passage of the 1994 crime bill, which led to mandatory minimum sentences.
On Sunday, Biden visited a protest site in Wilmington and spoke with those protesting the Floyd’s death. He did not announce the trip and was not accompanied by members of the press, but his campaign later posted photos of Biden at the site.
In a statement over the weekend, Biden said “protesting such brutality is right and necessary,” but recommended against violence and the destruction of property.
“Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response,” Biden said. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.”