The Trump campaign on Tuesday hit Joseph R. Biden for his long history of making offensive racial remarks, trying to expand a rift between the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and Black voters.
The campaign dug up Mr. Biden’s past remarks about young Black men being “predators” during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1990s, his 1970s comment that desegregation would leave children “in a racial jungle,” and his 1984 reference to civil rights activist Jesse Jackson as “boy.”
“No one should take lectures on racial justice from Joe Biden. The notion that he is some kind of racial healer is a total joke,” said the Trump campaign. “Biden spent nearly half a century in Washington as a career politician. Black Americans got nothing but betrayal, calamity and failure. Racial justice begins by retiring Joe Biden from public life.”
President Trump has sought inroads with Black voters since his 2016 campaign. He posted wins on key issues, including criminal justice changes and low unemployment among minorities, though job gains were erased by the coronavirus economic shutdown.
Protests pushed racial justice to the forefront of political debate following the death of George Floyd. Since then, polls show a majority of voters, including an overwhelming share of Black Americans, think Mr. Trump has increased racial tensions.
Mr. Biden, formerly a vice president and longtime senator from Delaware, launched his campaign as an antidote to what he described as the racist and divisive leadership of Mr. Trump. Strong support among Black voters catapulted him to the front of the Democratic presidential race, positioning him as the presumptive nominee.
But missteps, including saying Black voters who consider supporting Mr. Trump “ain’t Black,” hurt his standing with that crucial Democratic voting bloc.
Mr. Biden apologized for the remark.
His support is slipping most among young Black voters.
A recent Washington Post/Ipsos poll found that while 87% of Black seniors say Mr. Biden sympathized with Black people, just 66% of Black voters younger than 40 share that opinion.
The Trump campaign’s assault on Mr. Biden was pinned to the first anniversary of a prominent Black Democrat calling him out for using offensive racial language.
A year ago, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who at the time was also running for the party’s presidential nomination, slammed Mr. Biden for once using the term “gangbanger” to describe young Black men.
“He’s causing a lot of frustration and even pain with his words,” Mr. Booker said.
The Trump campaign highlighted several other incidents of potentially offensive racial comments by Mr. Biden:
• He praised segregationist Strom Thurmond and former Ku Klux Klan Exalted Cyclops Richard Byrd.
• He equated being a minority to being poor, saying “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”
• He defended a Confederate heritage group that flew the Confederate flag as “fine people.”
• During the 2008 presidential race, he expressed amazement that then-Sen. Barack Obama was “articulate and bright and clean.”
“Biden is having to spend money on TV ads to shore up his support among Black Americans, and it’s not hard to see why. Democrats can’t be pleased that this is their nominee for president,” said the Trump campaign.