“I’m the least racist person in the room,” US President Donald Trump said during a tense discussion on racism in the United States as he faced off with Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday night, just over 10 days ahead of the US presidential elections.
Trump’s remark came despite the fact that the third person involved in the debate was the moderator of the debate, NBC’s Kristen Welker, a Black woman herself.
The final US presidential debate and face-off between Trump and Biden that took place in US’ Nashville focussed on several issues, among them coronavirus pandemic, climate change, healthcare and racism.
Trump came to the debate armed with his usual sweeping statements, terming himself the president who had done the most for African-Americans since President Abraham Lincoln, a claim he has made before as well, apart from reminding the audience about his support for historically Black colleges and universities.
Racism Institutionalised in America: Biden
When asked how he would respond to Americans concerned about his record with regard to race, Trump retorted with his “least racist person” remark, while Biden lashed out at him out as “one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history”.
In a particularly strong critical comment directed at Trump, Biden said, “He pours fuel on every single racist fire.”
The two clashed in the heated discussion on racism concerns in the country, as they each addressed a question about Black and brown parents needing to give their children “the talk” about the possibility of being targeted by law enforcement in situations.
Addressing the question from Welker, Biden said that he understood the concerns of the community, adding that his daughter is a social worker who has written about this topic.
"“I never had to tell my daughter if she’s pulled over make sure she puts, for a traffic stop, put both hands on top of the wheel and don’t reach for the glove box because someone might shoot you.”" - Joe Biden
He went on to say that Black parents, regardless of their financial condition, are forced to “teach their child when you're walking down the street don't have a hoodie on when you go across the street, making sure you in fact if you get pulled over, yes, sir, no, sir, hands on top of the wheel, because you are in fact the victim whether you're a … person making $300,000 a year person or someone who's on food stamps.”
“The fact of the matter is there is institutional racism in America,” Biden accepted.
How did Trump, who has faced widespread criticism over his anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant stance respond to the same question? With a brief, “Yes, I do.”, followed by a gear shift into attacking Biden over his support for a controversial crime bill.
On Immigration Policy
Biden and Trump were also asked about their immigration policy by Welker, another contentious topic in the US.
Responding to a question about record deportation and a failure to pass immigration reform, Biden said he would do things differently.
The former Vice President appeared to distance himself from his President Barack Obama’s controversial immigration policies, accepting that the administration in power for two terms had made a mistake. He added that despite this, he could be trusted to get it right this time.
“It took too long to get it right. I’ll be President of the United States, not Vice President of the United States,” Biden said, in a notable shift from his earlier attempts to defend Obama’s stance, CNN reported.
Trump meanwhile, attempted to defend his own controversial and much criticised immigration policies, that have reportedly led to thousands of children being separated from their parents. A recent court filing showed that parents of 545 immigrant children separated at the border have not been found, USA Today reported.
"“The children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels, and they’re brought here and they used to use them to get into our country. We now have a strong a border as we’ve ever had. We’re over 400 miles of brand-new wall. You see the numbers. We let people in but they have to come in legally.”" - Donald Trump
When asked how he planned to reunite these children with their parents, Trump said that his administration has a plan that they were working very hard on.
"Five hundred plus kids came with parents. They separated them at the border to make it a disincentive to come to begin with. We're tough. We're really strong," Biden said, adding that these children had been ripped from the arms of their parents and now had nowhere to go, calling it “criminal”.
Trump tried to fire back at Biden, blaming the Obama administration for building the facilities where the separations took place. “Who built the cages, Joe? Talk about who built the cages,” Trump said.
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