Democratic presidential front-runner and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump of fuelling the white supremacy that’s blamed for several mass shootings in the United States, according to a speech Biden was due to deliver on Wednesday.
Biden, 76, was scheduled to speak in Iowa after back-to-back mass shootings this past weekend in the United States. In the first, on Saturday, a gunman killed 22 people in El Paso, a Texas city on the border with Mexico. Law enforcement agencies say he apparently was driven by hatred for Hispanics.
In the second mass shooting, a gunman in Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people, including his sister, before he was killed by police.
Trump’s rhetoric, including calling Central Americans trying to enter the United States “an invasion”, and his hard-line immigration policies have exposed him to condemnation since the El Paso shooting.
“How far is it from Trump’s saying this ‘is an invasion’ to the shooter in El Paso declaring ‘his attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas?’ Not far at all,” Biden was due to say, according to an advance copy of his speech.
“In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.”
Trump aides deny his rhetoric was a cause of the shootings. In a national address, the president proposed reforming mental health laws, working with social media to detect possible mass shooters and keeping guns away from people considered potentially violent. He plans to visit El Paso on Wednesday.
Biden is one of 24 candidates trying to become the nominee to take on Trump in next November’s election. Iowa is among the first states to vote in the Democratic nomination process.
Biden was expected to invoke the rhetoric of previous Republican and Democratic presidents, including Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton, who he said “opposed hate”.
In Trump, Biden was due to say, “we have a president who has aligned himself in the darkest forces in the nation. We have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism, and division.”