DES MOINES, Iowa — Joe Biden on Thursday adamantly defended his assertions that President Donald Trump embraced white supremacists after a deadly demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., engaging in an animated exchange after his public remarks here.
Following his turn on the soap box at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, a Breitbart reporter confronted Biden, accusing the former vice president of mischaracterizing Trump’s remarks after the 2017 demonstrations.
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At the suggestion that Trump had condemned the actions of marching white supremacists, Biden grew adamant, wagging his finger as he described the demonstrators as hate-filled with “veins bulging.”
“No he did not, he walked out and he said — let’s get this straight — he said there were very fine people in both groups,” Biden said as he slogged through a scrum of media and supporters at the fair. “They were chanting anti-Semitic slogans, carrying flags.”
Biden has repeatedly pointed to Trump’s response to Charlottesville as the central reason for his entering the 2020 presidential race, framing his candidacy as a quest to regain the soul of America. On Thursday before a state fair crowd — as he does in nearly every stump speech — Biden again pointed to Charlottesville.
“He said there were ‘very fine people in both groups,’” Biden told fairgoers. “No sitting president has ever said something like that.”
For his part, Trump has defended his remarks after Charlottesville.
“If you look at what I said you will see that that question was answered perfectly,” Trump said in April. “I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general.”
At the time, Trump faced intense criticism for not denouncing the marchers and seeming to offer a moral equivalence between the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who incited the rally and those who protested against them.