Biden: ‘Despicable’ for Trump to put words in George Floyd’s mouth

Former Vice President Joe Biden tore into President Trump for saying economic gains reported Friday marked a “great day for equality” and a “great day” for George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.

“George Floyd’s last words — ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ — have echoed across our nation,” Biden said in a speech Friday, referring to bystander video that went viral showing Floyd being pinned down by his neck before he died. “For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd — is frankly despicable.

“And, the fact that he did so on a day when black unemployment rose and black youth unemployment skyrocketed — tells you everything you need to know about who this man is and what he cares about.” 

The remarks in Dover, Del., came after Trump touted a surprisingly positive jobs report that showed unemployment at 13.3 percent in May, a drop from 14.7 percent in April. Economists had predicted the jobless rate in May could rise as high as 19 percent as many states continue to impose some restrictions on businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The unemployment rate for black workers ticked up to 16.8 percent from 16.7 percent, its highest in more than 10 years.

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality,” Trump said at the White House on Friday. 

Biden also accused Trump of taking a premature victory lap, noting that the economic figures are still dire and that a 13.3 percent unemployment rate translates into millions of Americans languishing in joblessness. 

“I was disturbed … to see the president crowing this morning — basically hanging a ‘mission accomplished’ banner when there is so much work to be done — and so many Americans are still hurting,” he said. “More than 20 million Americans — one out of every seven U.S. workers — are still out of work.”

“Donald Trump still doesn’t get it,” he added. “He’s out there spiking the football — completely oblivious to the tens of millions of people who are facing the greatest struggle of their lives. Those folks aren’t feeling any less pain today than they were yesterday.” 

The Trump campaign fired back at critics of the speech, saying in a statement Biden and the press are misconstruing the president’s remarks.

“Members of the news media have called for national unity following the horrific killing of George Floyd, but many today purposefully misreported President Trump’s remarks in an effort to further divide Americans and score political points against the President. In the course of Rose Garden remarks about strong economic news, the President also spoke of the national conversation that is taking place following Mr. Floyd’s killing, and of Americans coming together on the belief that everyone should be treated equally under the law,” said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesperson.

The speech Friday is just the latest attempt by Biden to form a contrast with Trump over his handling of the coronavirus, the economy and demonstrations across the country over Floyd’s death. Biden has been hitting the White House’s response to the pandemic as too slow and hammered Trump’s rhetoric against the protests as “fanning the flames of hate.”

—Updated at 4:49 p.m.

Tags Black unemployment Donald Trump George Floyd George Floyd death George Floyd protests Joe Biden Unemployment

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