AUSTIN — Former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday said George Floyd’s death has exposed America’s “systemic racism,” and the country can’t keep ignoring it.
He also accused President Donald Trump of mistreating Hispanics, saying it’s urgent that Americans elect a new leader.
In a speech videotaped on the back porch of his Delaware home, Biden rallied Texas Democrats on the final day of their week-long state convention.
“We need to stand up as a nation, stand with the black community, with all communities of color, come together as one America to deliver justice for all of America,” said Biden, whose electoral victory in Guam on Saturday pushed him past the 1,991 delegates he needs to claim the Democrats’ presidential nomination at their national convention in August.
Texas Democrats held their convention virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden called the death of George Floyd a “brutal, horrifying killing.” Floyd, a Houston native, suffocated on Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee down on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“It's time for all of us to take a hard look at the uncomfortable truths,” said Biden, who served as former President Barack Obama’s vice president. “It's time for us to face a deep, open wound of systemic racism in the nation. Nothing about this is going to be easy, or comfortable.”
But Biden warned, “If we simply allow this wound to scab over once more, without treating the underlying injury, we will never truly heal.”
Trump campaign spokeswoman Samantha Cotton dismissed Biden’s criticisms of the Republican incumbent.
“While Joe Biden hides in his basement, rather than constructively add to the national conversation, President Trump is leading Americans through the pandemic and restoring law and order,” she said in a written statement. “Texans want results, not lip-service from the Democrats, and they will make that clear when they re-elect President Trump in November.”
Biden, though, continued to frame the election as a battle for the country’s “very soul.” He vowed to “restore real leadership” to a White House he described as callous, particularly to Hispanics.
“Since day one of this administration, there has been a relentless attack of the Latino community,” he said, citing Trump’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, build a wall on the southern border and separate undocumented immigrant children from their parents as they enter the U.S. from Mexico.
“We saw the results last August in El Paso, as El Paso was targeted by a hateful attack,” he said.
He referred to the Aug. 2 mass slaying of 23 Hispanics at an El Paso Walmart. Authorities have charged a white, 21-year-old Collin County man. The man, Patrick Crusius, is believed to have warned only minutes before the attack, in a post on a website popular with white supremacists, of an "Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Biden said “Trump's anti-Latino, anti-immigrant agenda” includes reversing Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which shields certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and lets them get a work permit.
Biden noted that as early as Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court could rule in a lawsuit challenging the program’s legality.
“As president, I will protect Dreamers and their families,” he said. “And on day one, I will introduce immigration reform.”
Biden, whose Super Tuesday win in Texas’ March primary helped propel him to the nomination, has promised to commit time and money this fall to try to wrest the reliably red state from Republicans. Texas has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976.
“Biggest battleground state” was a slogan that planners of the state Democratic convention plastered on lecterns at a hotel conference center in Georgetown.
Though most speeches were prerecorded videos, a small number of speakers spoke live from the hotel, where they practiced social distancing because of COVID-19.
Biden used a different adjective, calling Texas “an important battleground state.” He pleaded with party activists to redouble their efforts.
“We have a real chance to turn the state blue because of the work all of you have done,” he said.