Former Vice President Joe Biden referred to the Charlottesville riots in August 2017 one last time on Election Day, as he addressed a small group of activists at a “get-out-the vote” event in his childhood hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Biden launched his campaign in April 2019 by claiming that he had been inspired to run by the riots, in which a non-violent protest against the removal of a Confederate statue was hijacked by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. There were peaceful protests both for and against the statue (and against racism), but there were also violent clashes between far-right extremists and far-left extremists. One neo-Nazis murdered a peaceful protester named Heather Heyer when he drove into a procession.
Speaking through a bullhorn, and his signature mask, Biden said that “when saw those folks come out of those fields down in Charlottesville, carrying those torches … that’s when I decided I had to run.”
Biden did not specifically repeat the claim he made throughout his campaign until the last few weeks, which is that President Donald Trump had called the right-wing extremists “very fine people.” In fact, Trump had said the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists should be “condemned totally.”
The former Vice President’s lie became known as the Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax. He appeared to drop it from his campaign stump speech after Vice President Mike Pence debunked it on live television during the vice-presidential debate against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), though Harris continued to use it right up through the end of the campaign.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.