PHILADELPHIA - In his first major address in weeks, former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday will vow not to “fan the flames of hate” if elected president and instead seek “to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued” the United States.
Speaking in Philadelphia – a city rocked by sometimes violent protests in recent days – Biden will take square aim at President Donald Trump’s handling of the wave of demonstrations across the country over racism and police misconduct, according to excerpts of the speech released by his campaign.
Biden, a Democrat who will face the Republican Trump in the Nov. 3 election, will be particularly critical of the president’s decision on Monday to stand for a photo beside a historic church across from the White House after law enforcement authorities tear-gassed protesters to clear the area.
“When peaceful protesters are dispersed by the order of the president from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle,” Biden is expected to say.
Cities nationwide have seen widespread protests since George Floyd, an African-American man, died at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25.
Biden will describe Floyd’s death as “a wake-up call for our nation.”
“I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate,” he will say.
At least five U.S. police officers were shot and wounded during violent protests over the death of Floyd, police and media said, hours after Trump vowed on Monday to deploy the military if unrest did not stop.
Biden is aiming to strike a careful balance between validating anger over police mistreatment of minorities while condemning violence as a response.
His speech on Tuesday marks the first time he has left his home state of Delaware since mid-March, when the outbreak of the novel coronavirus forced him to campaign largely from his house.