Biden opened his video, which was released on April 25, talking about Charlottesville and Thomas Jefferson.
He pivoted to talking about the Aug. 12, 2017, clashes between groups protesting the removal of a statue of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, white nationalists, groups championing the removal, and other protesters, including the far-left Antifa group.
Footage showed some of the white nationalists present in the Virginia city that day as Biden continued: “It was there … that we saw Klansman and white supremacists and Neo-Nazis come out in the open.”
The core values of this nation… our standing in the world… our very democracy…everything that has made America — America –is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States. #Joe2020 https://t.co/jzaQbyTEz3
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 25, 2019
Biden contrasted the white nationalists with the opposing groups, calling the latter “a courageous group of Americans.” He didn’t mention that among that group was Antifa members, armed with weapons such as clubs. Biden also noted that a woman, Heather Heyer, was killed during the conflict.
Then Biden claimed that Trump equated the white nationalists to the protesters.
“And that’s when we heard the words of the president of the United States that stunned the world and shocked the conscience of the nation. He said there were ‘some very fine people on both sides,'” Biden said.
“‘Very fine people on both sides?’ With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I’d ever seen in my lifetime.”
Biden said he couldn’t stand by and see Trump get re-elected.
Trump did say that there were “some very fine people on both sides,” but made clear he was not referring to white nationalists.
“You had people—and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists — because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly,” Trump said at a press conference on Aug. 15, three days after the clashes.
Trump expanded on his comments amid a barrage of questions about what happened.
“You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs, and it was vicious, it was horrible,” he said.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. It has no place in America,” he added. “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis, I’ve condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists. … Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.”
He also noted that Antifa and the other groups who formed a counter-protest didn’t have a permit to be there.
“What about the alt-left that came charging? … They came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs. Do they have any problem? I think they do,” Trump said. “I think there’s blame on both sides. You look at both sides, I think there’s blame on both sides.”