Joe Biden likened President Donald Trump to the Ku Klux Klan on Monday, saying the the incumbent had used “dog whistle[s]” to signal it was acceptable to be racist.
The former Vice President made the remarks during a television interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday. Officially the interview was supposed to cover Biden’s response to the wave of mass shootings that occurred over the weekend. Cooper and the former vice president, however, expanded their conversation to include Trump and “white nationalists.”
“This is a president who has said things no other president has said since Andrew Jackson,” Biden told Cooper. “Nobody’s said anything like the things he’s saying,”
The former vice president claimed Trump’s demeanor and statements since entering the Oval Office have only served to ‘legitimate’ the views of racists, whom Biden asserted were now emboldened to “speak out and be more straightforward.”
“We went through this before in the ’20s with the Ku Klux Klan,” Biden said. “50,000 people walking down Pennsylvania Avenue in pointed hats and robes because they in fact decided they didn’t want any Catholics coming into the country.”
The Democrat frontrunner doubled down on the comparison only seconds later by claiming that Trump wanted to “divide people.”
“We went through it after the Civil War in terms of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacy,” Biden said. “This is about separating people into the good and bad in his mind. It’s about an access to power, its a trait used by charlatans all over the world … divide people, pit them against one another.”
"There is no question it's a dangerous game" Pres. Trump is playing with divisive rhetoric around race, former VP @JoeBiden tells @andersoncooper. "…He looks like he just flat abandoned the theory that we are one people."
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) August 5, 2019
This interview is not the first time Biden has leveled such accusations. Since announcing his presidential campaign, the Democrat frontrunner has alleged on multiple occasions that “white nationalism” is on the rise under the Trump administration.
Biden’s remarks come after a particularly difficult and tragic few days. On Saturday, in the Texas border city of El Paso, a gunman opened fire on a shopping area packed with thousands of people doing back-to-school shopping. Before the gunman could be subdued, 20 individuals were killed and dozens were left wounded. Only hours after that incident, another gunman opened fire on a popular nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio. The shooting left nine individuals dead and at least 26 others injured.
Apart from blaming the president’s rhetoric, Biden rambled throughout the entire interview, even at one point claiming that media outlets like Breitbart News were not doing enough to further unity.
“This is who we are, who they are. I mean it’s — and it really is about sort of re-weaving that social fabric that holds a society together, honesty, decency, hope, leaving nobody behind, giving hate no safe harbor. … That’s who we are,” the 76-year-old former vice president said. “And it’s the thing that holds us together, and I don’t see much of it coming from the far right and the Breitbarts of the world and this administration, it’s the uniqueness of America.”