Biden Asks What Trump Would Have Done if Capitol Rioters Were Black

President Biden made an aggressive push on Wednesday to head off former President Donald J. Trump’s modest gains among Black voters, condemning his Republican opponent as a racist who had lied to Black Americans about what his term in office delivered them.

Speaking alongside Vice President Kamala Harris at a rally in Philadelphia, Mr. Biden pressed home a series of arguments about why Black voters should choose him over Mr. Trump, who has been trying to court Americans of color.

“This is the same guy who wanted to tear-gas you as you peacefully protested George Floyd’s murder,” Mr. Biden told the predominantly Black crowd as he and Ms. Harris announced a national coalition of Black voters working on their behalf. “The same guy who still calls the Central Park Five guilty even though they were exonerated. He’s that landlord who denies housing applications because of the color of your skin.”

Invoking the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, and nodding to Mr. Trump’s remarks about pardoning the rioters, Mr. Biden said: “What do you think would have happened if Black Americans had stormed the Capitol? I don’t think he’d be talking about pardons.”

Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris were making a rare joint appearance at a campaign event as they push urgently to strengthen their support from Black voters, who helped propel them to victory in 2020 but whose lagging enthusiasm now poses a serious risk to their re-election prospects.

The event in Philadelphia — the Democratic stronghold of a must-win battleground state — capped a month of heavy outreach by Mr. Biden to African Americans. Prominent Black Democrats including Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland and Lt. Gov. Austin Davis of Pennsylvania appeared with the president and Ms. Harris on Wednesday at Girard College, a boarding school where a desegregation battle raged for more than a decade in the 1950s and ’60s.

Mr. Biden has plenty of ground to make up with Black Americans. Polls consistently show that his support from Black voters has declined to alarming levels for a Democrat. In a multicandidate race, just 49 percent of Black voters across six of the top battleground states said they would back Mr. Biden, a New York Times/Siena College/Philadelphia Inquirer poll found. Four years ago, nearly nine in 10 Black voters nationwide cast their ballots for Mr. Biden, according to exit polls.

Nationally, Democrats have expressed alarm at Mr. Biden’s polling numbers.

“It’s a big problem,” said Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Black Democrat who sits on Detroit’s school board. “And it really puts us in a position to lose.”

The Biden campaign said it would dispatch dozens of Black leaders on a nationwide “week of action” to mobilize Black voters in battleground states. It also plans to team up with national groups to hold events, recruit surrogates and speak directly to Black communities through November.

Mr. Trump, who has often relied on stereotypes to appeal to Black voters, tried to capitalize on their disaffection during a rally in the Bronx last Thursday, when he appeared with the rappers Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow, who have been charged with violent gang-related crimes.

The former president has also repeatedly and falsely said he oversaw the lowest Black unemployment rate in American history, which Mr. Biden on Wednesday called one of “Trump’s MAGA lies.” (In fact, the Black unemployment rate dipped lower under Mr. Biden.) Mr. Biden argued that Mr. Trump was “pandering and peddling lies and stereotypes” to Black voters so that “he can win for himself, not you.”

In a statement, Janiyah Thomas, the Black media director for the Trump campaign, accused Mr. Biden of “gaslighting Black voters” and noted that he had pushed for a 1994 federal crime bill that helped fuel mass incarceration for America’s Black communities.

“The Biden campaign is panicking because they see that Black voters aren’t buying what Biden is selling,” Ms. Thomas added.

In addition to its outreach to Black voters, the Biden campaign had previously announced coalitions geared toward mobilizing Hispanic voters, women, health care workers and educators, with more planned in the coming weeks.

Dozens of Girard College students in red tops and gray skirts or pants watched the rally on Wednesday from the upper levels of the school’s gymnasium, under a “Black Voters for Biden-Harris” sign.

The school was founded in 1848 to educate white boys without fathers. It began admitting Black male students in 1968 after a federal lawsuit, 14 years after the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education, and girls in 1984. Before the event began, drum lines and a gospel choir warmed up the crowd of roughly 1,000 people, the largest Mr. Biden has addressed during the campaign so far.

Recently, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris have been speaking directly to Black audiences at multiple events per week. This month, Ms. Harris hosted economic opportunity events for Black entrepreneurs in Detroit and Milwaukee. On May 19, Mr. Biden delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College, an all-male historically Black university in Atlanta, before speaking at the Detroit N.A.A.C.P.’s annual dinner, one of the organization’s largest gatherings.

“We have delivered,” Ms. Harris said on Wednesday, after listing policy victories on capping insulin prices, forgiving student debt and signing a bipartisan gun violence law.

Black Democrats say the moves are critical to persuading disaffected Black voters that the Biden administration has improved their lives, even as many voters on the ground say they do not feel that way.

Michael Nutter, a former Democratic mayor of Philadelphia, said the party had not fully explained to Black voters how its policies had helped them — nor had it pushed back forcefully enough on Republicans’ claims that Democrats had failed them.

“The numbers are the numbers, and by anyone’s measure, things are better. But if you don’t feel it, it kind of doesn’t matter,” he said, later adding: “I think that there is room for President Biden, for Vice President Harris, for Democrats to be a little less genteel and a little more smash-mouth.”

Michael Gold contributed reporting from New York.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *