President Trump said Thursday that former Vice President Joe Biden had “totally disparaged and insulted the Black community” when he compared African-American attitudes with those of Hispanics.
In an interview at a conference of Black and Latino journalists that aired Thursday morning, Biden was asked whether he would extend Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. from a variety of Latin American countries.
“Yes,” Biden said when NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro asked if he’d “reengage with Cuba” on the topic. “And by the way,” he continued, “what you all know, but most people don’t know, unlike the African-American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things. You go to Florida, and you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona.”
Trump characterized the comparison as a slight against African-Americans.
“Joe Biden this morning totally disparaged and insulted the Black community,” the president told reporters gathered outside the White House. “What he said is incredible, and I don’t know what’s going on with him, but it was a very insulting statement he made.”
Trump ended TPS protections for hundreds of thousands of Latin American immigrants in November of 2017. The program allowed immigrants from countries experiencing war, natural disasters and other catastrophic events to remain in the U.S.
The Trump campaign seized on Biden’s remarks, sending out a statement to reporters.
“There’s a reason Joe Biden can’t count on the support of Black voters, and it’s because of his plantation owner mentality,” senior campaign adviser Katrina Pierson said in the statement. “President Trump has a true record of helping Black Americans, with unprecedented economic opportunity, record funding for HBCUs, criminal justice reform, and support for school choice. Joe Biden would rather we all just shut up, get in line, and know our place.”
The president continued to highlight the remark as he traveled to Ohio, tweeting, “Joe Biden just lost the entire African American community.”
Last week, when asked to assess the legacy of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, Trump proclaimed that “nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have.” Yet many African-Americans would seem to disagree. In an average of the most recent polls of Black Americans, Biden leads Trump by an overwhelming margin of 83 percent to 8 percent.
With the story continuing to gain traction, however, Biden issued a lengthy clarification late Thursday to try to explain his comparison.
“Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith — not by identity, not on issues, not at all,” Biden said in a message posted to Twitter. “Throughout my career I’ve witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community. It’s this diversity that makes our workplaces, communities, and country a better place. My commitment to you is this: I will always listen, I will never stop fighting for the African American community and I will never stop fighting for a more equitable future.”
In a May interview with “Breakfast Club” host Charlamagne Tha God, Biden responded to the suggestion that the Black community had more questions about his candidacy by saying, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”
Biden later apologized for the comment.
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