Joe Biden Says Trump Is the Country's First Racist President

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee made the comments during a virtual town hall about the Trump administration's handling of coronavirus.

Joe Biden

Image via Getty/Brendan Smialowski / AFP

Joe Biden

Joe Biden incorrectly referred to Donald Trump as America's first racist president.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee made the claim Thursday, during a virtual town hall hosted by the Service Employees International Union. During the event, Biden criticized Trump's tendency to refer to COVID-19 as the "Wuhan virus" or "Chinese virus," suggesting these labels were stoking racism and division in the country.

"What President Trump has done in his spreading of racism, the way he deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from — is absolutely sickening," Biden told union members. "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."

Biden continued: "I’m sorry to get so worked up about it. It makes me so angry when I find that people, based on the color of their skin or their national origin, are somehow viewed in a different way. Look what (Trump's) doing now. He's blaming everything on China. He's blaming everything on the Chinese."

Though Biden has accused POTUS of blowing racist dog whistles, Wednesday's town hall marked the first time he directly referred to Trump as a racist. But, as many Twitter users pointed out, Trump is part of a long list of racist commander in chiefs. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson are among the 12 presidents who had owned enslaved people; while Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush have left a legacy of racist policies and/or views.

Trump was asked about Biden's comments during Wednesday's White House press briefing. After referring to the coronavirus as the "China plague," the president reiterated his claims that he has done more for racial minorities than anyone else.

"I’ve said this, and I say it openly and not a lot of people dispute it," he said. "I have done more for Black Americans than anybody, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln."

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