Joe Biden says silence in the face of white supremacy 'is complicity' during fiery speech against Trump

Former vice president gins up support for Democrats in fiery Orlando speech ahead of midterms

Clark Mindock
Orlando, Florida
Wednesday 24 October 2018 07:31
US Midterms 2018: The five big questions

Former vice president Joe Biden wants Americans to do some soul-searching as they begin to cast their ballots in the 2018 midterm elections.

In a fiery speech in Orlando, Florida Mr Biden delivered a scathing assessment of Donald Trump’s first two years in office and said that there were no mysteries about the man who has been running the country.

The question is now, he said, whether the American people align themselves with the values expressed from the White House.

“Guys, America already knows who Donald Trump is,” Mr Biden said at a rally supporting Florida Democrats. “The question is: Who are we?”

Barack Obama’s former second-in-command was on a tour of Florida to support Democrats including gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum, Senator Bill Nelson, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, and congressional candidate Nancy Soderberg.

Mr Biden expressed a concern for the way that Mr Trump has handled tough issues, including the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last year in which one person was killed. Mr Trump, in response to the violence at that rally, expressed a moral equivalence between the far right protesters and the demonstrators who met them in Virginia – including the young woman who was killed after a white supremacist drove his car through a peaceful group of demonstrators.

“Folks, not a joke. Our children are listening, and silence is complicity,” Mr Biden said, referring to the events in Charlottesville and the Trump administration’s immigration policies that have led to children being separated from their parents at the US border.

His trip to the swing state of Florida comes just two weeks before voters will decide on several close races in the state in what some onlookers have identified as a proxy for the way the US views the Trump presidency two years in.

The objects of Mr Biden’s praise returned the favour – and, in between calls for action on climate change, education, immigration, and foreign policy, the veteran was heralded as an effective leader in tones that hinted at a run for the presidency.

But Mr Biden refused to suggest that he had any intention of taking on Mr Trump in 2020, even when prodded by a member of the crowd in Orlando.

“Any idea who can replace him?” one man yelled after a jab aimed at Mr Trump.

The crowd erupted in cheers for Mr Biden, who many consider a potential front runner in the 2020 Democratic field should he choose to run. But the former vice president demurred.

Amid the cheers, Mr Biden looked to the ground and brought his hands together in a sign of thanks – or prayer – and let the noise die down.

He moved on, and suggested that the US needed leadership that respected the rights of individuals. America, he said, was under siege.

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“The very essence of who we are as Americans is under attack,” he said.

America “is defined by an idea. America is an idea, based on ideals,” he continued. “We hold these truths to be self-evident”.

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