Biden: White supremacists winning the battle for the soul of the US

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument Budowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat MORE said in an interview aired early Tuesday that white supremacists are winning the battle for the soul of the nation after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. 

"The white supremacists are winning the battle," Biden told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "This is domestic terrorism."  

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Biden's comments come after last weekend's mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, which left more than 30 people dead. The suspected gunman in the El Paso shooting allegedly drafted a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto before the attack, which described fears of a Latino “invasion."

While President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE on Monday urged the country to "condemn bigotry, hatred and white supremacy" after the shooting, his critics, including Democratic presidential contenders, have said his rhetoric has contributed to the rise in hate crimes. 

"This is a president who continues to speak in ways that just are contrary to everything we are," Biden told CNN. "I mean, referring to immigrants ... Mexicans are rapists, talking about the rats in Baltimore." 

"His rhetoric contributes to this notion. It almost legitimizes these people coming out from under the rocks. This is white nationalism. This is terrorism of a different sort, but it's still terrorism," he continued. 

Biden added that the "American public, unfortunately, is getting exposed to just how deeply and badly this nation has been divided by this president and the ... attack on the character of the country that's going on."

"They are feeling it and ... seeing it, and it's a different place," he added.

Biden's presidential campaign launch in April highlighted Trump's response to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.  

"When those folks came out of the fields in Charlottesville, veins bulging. Just coming out from under the rocks carrying torches [with] the same anti-Semitic bile that was spewed in Europe and in Germany in the '30s, accompanied by white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan, and a young woman gets killed," Biden said on CNN. "The president gets asked 'well, tell us about what you think', and he says there's very fine people on both sides. For God's sake, no president's ever said that."

Biden said he would institute a national buyback program for assault weapons if elected, adding that Americans must "take on" gun manufacturers as well as the National Rifle Association.