Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden put his foot in his mouth Wednesday, calling President Donald Trump the “first” racist president of the United States.
According to NewsOne, Biden made the comment at a virtual town hall organized by the Service Employees International Union after a healthcare worker expressed their concern that Trump continues to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden responded saying Trump often refers to the pandemic as the “China virus,” and added, “the way he deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening.”
“No sitting president has ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president. We’ve had racists, and they’ve existed, they’ve tried to get elected president. He’s the first one that has.”
While some understood what Biden was trying to say, many pointed out that throughout American history there have been a number of presidents who were openly racist or carried out racist policies and agendas.
According to History.com, 12 presidents enslaved people in their lifetimes and eight of them enslaved Black men and women while in office. The list includes George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, and Andrew Jackson.
Additionally, enslaved Black men and women built the White House.
Even in modern times, while presidents did not own slaves, they instituted racist policies and agendas. President Franklin Roosevelt established interment camps during World War II. When running for Governor of California in 1966, future President Ronald Reagan denounced the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and even ran radio ads referring to urban areas as “jungles.”
Biden’s campaign advisor, Symone Sanders, attempted to clean up his words, acknowledging that although Trump isn’t the first racist president, he’s unique to modern history.
When asked about Biden’s comments at a White House press briefing earlier this week, Trump doubled down on his stance that he has “done more for Black Americans than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln. Nobody has even been close.”
On social media, many were quick to label Biden‘s comments as wrong and shortsighted. Many pointed out the number of presidents who owned slaves and that Trump is just another racist president in a long line of racist presidents.