In a speech on Monday, Democrat front-runner Joe Biden became the latest 2020 presidential challenger to drop some level of responsibility for the El Paso, Texas Walmart shooting at the feet of President Donald Trump.
“Mr. President, it’s long past time you stood up to it, it’s long past time you addressed it for what it is: This is hatred, pure and simple, and it’s been fueled by rhetoric that is so divisive, and it’s causing people to die,” the former vice president said during a speech in San Diego, according to the Washington Examiner.
In the address at the annual conference of Latino advocacy group UnidosUS, Biden went on to call for limiting so-called “assault weapons” as well as pushing limits on cartridges.
“American people may be running out of tears, but I pray they’re not running out of will,” Biden said. “These escalating acts are not madness. They are driven by hate.”
Biden’s remarks came after two mass killings within hours of one another over the weekend. In the El Paso shooting, a man who said in a manifesto that he was motivated by hatred of immigrants murdered 22.
Another shooting in Dayton, Ohio claimed the lives of another 10 people, although the motivation of that shooter remains unclear. A similar motive to the El Paso shooting seems unlikely, given that the alleged killer was, according to his social media postings, a liberal who supported Elizabeth Warren and repeatedly slammed Donald Trump.
It’s worth noting, of course, that Trump did stand up to the hatred espoused by the El Paso shooter, condemning it roundly during a White House news conference on Monday.
“The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate. In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America,” Trump said.
“Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”
That, too, would earn the ire of the Biden campaign.
“Let’s be very clear. You use the office of the presidency to encourage and embolden white supremacy,” Biden wrote in a tweet.
“You use words like ‘infestation’ and ‘invasion’ to talk about human beings. We won’t truly speak with one voice against hatred until your voice is no longer in the White House.”
Let’s be very clear. You use the office of the presidency to encourage and embolden white supremacy. You use words like “infestation” and “invasion” to talk about human beings. We won’t truly speak with one voice against hatred until your voice is no longer in the White House. https://t.co/CW3wxxTm2E
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 5, 2019
Biden is hardly the first 2020 Democrat candidate to ascribe complicity to President Trump for his stance on immigration.
Former congressman and presidential hopeful Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, who hails from El Paso, said that “[Trump] is a racist and he stokes racism in this country. And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.”
He also said he believed the president was a “white nationalist” and compared his rhetoric to something out of Nazi Germany: “You might hear someone in the Third Reich describe a given people based on their characteristic as an infestation or subhuman, but that’s what the president of the United States is doing right now, and it’s not just with Mexican immigrants, conflating congresswoman Ilhan Omar with the terrorists from 9/11, encouraging that chanting in North Carolina of ‘send her back,’” O’Rourke said.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, meanwhile, said that the president was “sowing seeds of hatred in our country and this harvest of hate violence that we’re seeing right now lies at his feet.”
“When you have the president from the highest moral office in our land talking about invasions and infestations and s—hole countries, the kind of things that come out of his mouth that so harm the moral fabric of our nation, he is responsible.”
Other Democratic presidential contenders stopped short of actively blaming Trump with that level of explicitness, although they certainly came close. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told CNN that some people took the president’s rhetoric as “a sign to do terrible, terrible things” and fired off tweets like these:
Most of my father’s family was brutally murdered at the hands of Hitler’s white supremacist regime—a regime which came to power on a wave of violence and hatred against racial and religious minorities.
We cannot allow that cancer to grow here.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 5, 2019
And then there were others:
Trump has emboldened white nationalism across our country. He needs to go. pic.twitter.com/BvWfPXVxe3
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 5, 2019
Donald Trump is enabling white supremacy—and Republicans are enabling him. And when Congress and the American people have tried to fight the gun violence epidemic, @SenateMajLdr has put the NRA first. If we want action, we need to take back the Senate and end the filibuster. pic.twitter.com/aFzwt5lNk7
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 5, 2019
So Biden’s talking points are basically Xeroxed from other sources. Trump is a “white nationalist,” so was the El Paso shooter, do the math, etc. Pretty much everyone is repeating the same ludicrous “white nationalist” language as if the term was inherently meaningless.
However, the candidates most explicitly blaming Trump — namely, Beto and Booker — are desperate men, both mired in the bottom tier of serious candidates.
Joe Biden is the front-runner. The fact that he’s willing to engage in this kind of shameless behavior, of blaming a sitting president for a mass murder, is simply beyond the pale.
This is opportunism of the lowest sort. If he ends up being the nominee, one hopes this is a moment that comes back to haunt him.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.