Trump is out ‘for revenge,’ not to lead country

Detroit — Democratic President Joe Biden told a crowd in Detroit Sunday night that Republican Donald Trump is out for “revenge” and would pose a bigger threat to the country in his second term than he did in his first.

Biden made the remarks during a speech at the NAACP Detroit Branch’s 69th annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner inside Huntington Place, where he pivoted between touting his own policies and blasting his GOP opponent five months before the November election.

“Folks, Trump isn’t running to lead America,” Biden said at one point. “He is running for revenge. Revenge is no way to lead the country. You can’t build a future on revenge.”

The Democratic president described Trump as “unhinged” and unable to accept the fact he lost the 2020 presidential election. Biden said Trump would pardon individuals who were sentenced to prison for crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, an event that ensued as Trump’s supporters attempted to upend the certification of the election.

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Biden in Detroit: ‘Together me make history we do not erase it.’

Biden slams Trump: ‘What do you think he would have done on Jan. 6 if Black Americans had stormed the Capitol?’

“What do you think he would have done on Jan. 6 if Black Americans had stormed the Capitol? No, I’m serious. What do you think? I can only imagine,” Biden said, drawing applause from the majority Black crowd of thousands of people.

Biden spent much of the day reaching out to Black voters. On Sunday morning, before traveling to Michigan, he delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College, a historically Black college in Atlanta.

In a statement, Janiyah Thomas, the Trump campaign’s Black media coordinator, said Biden was “on a pandering tour because he knows what we all know: Without the Black vote, there is no Democrat Party.”

“Today, Black voters can see through what Joe Biden is trying to sell because they know, like all Americans, that inflation is eating away at wages, the border is in chaos, and in big blue cities, Black children are trapped in unsafe neighborhoods and failing schools,” Thomas said.

Attendees react to speech

Some attendees at the NAACP dinner had a positive reaction to Biden’s speech.

“It was an amazing speech,” said Sydnia Thomas of Roseville. “I couldn’t believe it. I was overwhelmed. I’ve never seen a president in person before.”

Cheryl Thomas of Detroit said she likes what Biden stands for.

“He said during the speech that the first organization he ever joined was the NAACP, and that speaks volumes about the kind of person he is,” Thomas said.

But Ali Dagher of Dearborn was more critical.

“It was a campaign speech — about what I expected,” Dagher said. “But he didn’t talk at all about what’s happening in Gaza. He didn’t even mention it, and I had hoped he would talk about that. He didn’t cover other world events, either. It was basically a campaign stump speech.”

Dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched outside the convention center ahead of Biden’s speech, labeling the president “Genocide Joe” and demanding an end to all U.S. aid to Israel. Biden has backed Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza, but has withheld 3,500 bombs from Israel as it pursues a military operation in Rifah, the last Hamas stronghold.

During his remarks at the NAACP dinner, Biden touted his administration’s investments in historically Black colleges, its efforts to remove lead pipes and his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Biden told the NAACP crowd that because of their votes, he was “standing here as president of the United States.” 

‘A different breed of cat’

Biden also appeared Sunday afternoon at a private campaign gathering of about 50 people inside CRED Cafe, a speakeasy opened last year by former National Basketball Association players and brothers, Joe and Jordan Crawford, in Detroit.

At the private campaign event, Biden labeled Trump “a different breed of cat,” adding that Trump is “not your typical Republican.”

“The guy we’re running against wants to back up all of the … progress we’ve made,” the Democratic president told the group.

Biden said Trump would undo policies he’s implemented to safeguard the environment, but he didn’t specify which ones he was referring to. And the president said Trump would dismantle initiatives that have expanded health insurance coverage and access to college to more African Americans.

Trump vowed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act but didn’t muster the votes to do so during his administration.

Biden won Michigan in 2020 51%-48% over Trump and was aided by getting 240,936 votes in Detroit, defeating the Republican in the state’s largest city, 94%-5%. About 78% of Detroit’s population is Black, according to U.S. Census data. Despite there being no proof of systemic voter fraud in Detroit, in the days after the 2020 election, Trump labeled Detroit “totally corrupt” and said there had been an improper dump of votes there. But judges, canvassers and audits upheld the results of the election.

Some Democrats are concerned that voters in Detroit won’t turn out for Biden the same way this fall in a rematch with Trump, potentially providing a path for the Republican to flip Michigan.

In interview ahead of Biden’s speech at the NAACP dinner in Detroit Sunday night, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, said there was initially “dampened enthusiasm” for a rematch between Biden and Trump. But Slotkin, who’s running for the U.S. Senate, said she sees growing excitement in the city.

“The people that I talk to just are really wary of Trump,” Slotkin said. “We know what that’s like, and they don’t feel like they want to let us slip back into that.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan told the crowd at the dinner that Biden had been a friend to the city throughout its recovery, pushing to financially rescue the auto industry while vice president, and had “been with us in our darkest hour.”

“Let him know Detroit never forgets,” Duggan told the crowd inside Huntington Place.

After the speech, state Rep Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, said Biden hit on “all the key points.”

“Democrats have been horrible at messaging and of reminding people the differences between him and his opponent, including supporting unions versus being anti-union,” Carter said. “A lot of bad things are going happen to the middle class if his opponent wins.”

Sunday’s visit marked Biden’s third campaign stop in Michigan of 2024. He met with supporters in Saginaw County in March, and he spoke at a United Auto Workers hall in Macomb County in February.

During his campaign stop in Detroit on Sunday afternoon, the incumbent president said he had told a group of reverends to “pray like hell for me.” There’s a “long way to go” in the election,” he said.

“But we’re feeling real good because of folks like you,” Biden said. “We’re working real hard.”

cmauger@detroitnews.com


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