Former Vice President Joe Biden skewered President Trump on Friday, saying recent job losses and higher rates of unemployment in black and brown communities are attributable to the White House’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic.
Friday’s new jobs report showed a nationwide unemployment rate of 13.3 percent, which was significantly lower than most analysts were anticipating. Trump touted the report as evidence of “the greatest comeback in American history” Friday morning — though Biden said the president should receive no accolades for the drop in unemployment.
“Let’s be clear — a president who takes no responsibility for costing millions and millions of Americans their jobs deserves no credit when a fraction of them return,” said Biden in an address from Delaware State University, a historically black public college.
The presumptive Democratic nominee said he was “disturbed to see the president crowing this morning.” He added that Trump was “basically hanging a ‘mission accomplished’ banner out there,” a reference to then-President George W. Bush’s 2003 claim that the U.S. had won the Iraq War.
Despite Trump’s boasting, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed upticks in unemployment rates for African-Americans and Asian-Americans. Meanwhile, overall permanent job losses continued to spike, with nearly 295,000 in May alone.
“The depth of this job crisis is not attributable to an act of God, but to a failure in leadership by this president,” Biden added.
Throughout his remarks, Biden leveled a number of criticisms at Trump and his administration for their much-criticized response to the pandemic. He also had harsh words for Trump’s invocation of George Floyd on Friday, after the president seemed to imply that Floyd, a black man killed in police custody that has inspired weeks-long nationwide protests, would be proud of the latest employment figures.
“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country,’” Trump said. “This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.”
Biden said that “for the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd — is frankly despicable.”
Biden hinted that he would be unveiling new plans to rebuild the economy in subsequent weeks that would address public health as well as job creation, though it’s unclear exactly what the contours of those plans would look like.
His remarks were the latest in a recent string of public, small-audience events. For the past several months, Biden has mostly campaigned virtually from home due to the pandemic, although his team expects to ramp up more traditional, in-person events as states slowly reopen.
Biden currently leads Trump in many nationwide polls, despite some criticisms of his smaller digital operation and his lack of visibility on cable networks.
“There is a monumental amount of work to do to repair the damage that has been done,” said Biden. “And simply tweeting slogans like ‘transition to greatness’ won’t solve anything for families who are hurting.”
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