In a sermon before a black church on Sunday, former Vice President Joe Biden linked President Donald Trump to the Ku Klux Klan on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
“We can defeat this moment of hate. … This president and his — the Ku Klux Klans and the rest of them, they think they’ve beaten us again. But they have no idea — we’re just coming back. God love you all,” Biden told the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina.
In his speech, Biden also claimed that the president had referred to white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people” following an incident of violence in August 2017.
“They asked the president what he thought, and he said, ‘There are very fine people on both sides’,” Biden claimed.
In fact, the president specifically condemned those groups, as the transcript of his remarks reveals.
Trump had praised non-violent protesters on either side of the removal of a Confederate statue as “very fine people,” and in doing so he contrasted them with violent rioters. He also said the neo-Nazis and white nationalists should be “condemned totally.”
Biden was introduced by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), who endorsed the 2020 Democratic frontrunner, saying that there was “no bigger threat to [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s] legacy than the person who is in the White House now.”
Biden also said that he had been involved in the civil rights movement “for real” as a teenager, and said “I got my education — for real — in the black church. And that’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact.”
In addition, the former VP repeatedly referenced former President Barack Obama, though he hasn’t endorsed anyone in the 2020 Democratic race, including Biden.
Sunday’s speech was not the first time Biden has linked a Republican political opponent to the worst of white racism, in an effort to appeal to an African-American audience.
During his 2012 re-election campaign, Biden told a mostly black group of voters in Virginia that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.”
As for the KKK, the organization was founded immediately following the Civil War by white Southern Democrats.
For most of the organization’s existence, Democrats continued to embrace the group and legitimize its existence, as noted by Carol Swain, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, in a video for PragerU.