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Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation'

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday marked the third anniversary of the deadly white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., calling it part of a battle "for the soul of our nation."

"Three years ago today, white supremacists descended on Charlottesville with torches in hand and hate in their hearts. Our president said they were 'very fine people,'" Biden tweeted. "It was clear then, and it's clear now: We are in a battle for the soul of our nation, and we must win."

The former vice president also paid tribute to Heather Heyer, the counterprotester who was killed when neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. drove a car through a crowd.

"Heather Heyer was a brave young woman who saw what was happening in her hometown of Charlottesville and decided to fight against it," Biden tweeted. "Let us honor her memory by continuing to stand against hate."

Biden invoked the rally and President Trump's reaction to it in his initial campaign announcement in 2019. His campaign announcement video called the rally a "defining moment" for the country. Mike Signer, who was mayor of the city during the rally, praised the announcement at the time.

Biden also paid tribute to Heyer on the first anniversary of her death in 2018, tweeting that her spirit is "in every person who stands up to reject hate and bigotry." The former vice president also invoked the rally in January 2019 at the National Action Network's Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast, saying the hatred expressed at the rally had been "legitimized" under Trump.

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