Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Thursday evening said most Americans believe the country needs to get better, arguing “10 to 15 percent” of people “are just not very good.”
Mr. Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, argued the president is vital in setting the standard for the rest of the country during a virtual town hall event on “The Shade Room” hosted by actor Don Cheadle.
“Do we really think that this is as good as we can be as a nation? I don’t think the vast majority of people think that,” he said. “There are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there that are just not very good people. But that’s not who we are. The vast majority of people are decent. We have to appeal to that and we have to unite people.”
National unrest sparked after the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have renewed the painful debate of racial tensions and police brutality in the U.S.
Mr. Biden’s comments have been compared to other controversial remarks made by presidential candidates about certain Americans. in 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came under fire for comparing Trump supporters to a “basket of deplorables.”
Throughout the conversation, Mr. Biden acknowledged that he hasn’t experienced racism but that childhood bullies making fun of his stutter taught him about being humiliated.
“I’m a white man,” he said. “I think I understand but I can’t feel it. I feel it but I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man walking down the street and be accosted, or to be arrested or, God forbid, something worse.”
Mr. Biden stressed the importance of presidential leadership in times of unrest, but noted that elections alone will not fix the systemic racism.
“Hate didn’t begin with Donald Trump, it’s not going to end with him,” he said. “The history of our country is not a fairy tale, it doesn’t guarantee a happy ending, but as I said earlier, we’re in a battle for the soul of this nation. It’s been a constant push and pull for the last 200 years.”