By AVERI HARPER and BEATRICE PETERSON, ABC News
(WILMINGTON, Del.) — Former Vice President Joe Biden offered a scathing criticism of President Donald Trump in a speech from Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday.
The appearance was slated to be about the economy. But before Biden addressed that subject, he reacted to a story in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg, which reported that Trump allegedly referred to American service members killed in war as “losers” and “suckers” and canceled a visit to a cemetery for American soldiers outside Paris in 2018 because he didn’t think it was important to honor them.
ABC News has not independently confirmed The Atlantic report, which cites four unnamed sources with direct knowledge in making the claims. Trump has forcefully denied it.
Biden told reporters “quite frankly, if what is written in The Atlantic is true, it’s disgusting. And it affirms what most of us believe to be true, that Donald Trump is not fit to do the job of president, and be the commander in chief.”
“It’s deplorable,” Biden added. “As I’ve said many times, I’ll say again. These folks are the backbone of America. They’re the heart, the soul, the grit. That’s what patriotism is about.”
Noting the president’s response after the death of Sen. John McCain Biden said, Trump was “the same guy that when the ship went in the harbor, he made sure the USS McCain was covered [so] we couldn’t see it. He’s the same guy that denigrated John.”
Biden invoked his late son Beau Biden’s memory saying the “President reportedly said — and I emphasize reportedly said — that those who sign up to serve instead of doing something more lucrative are suckers. Let me be real clear. When my son was an assistant U.S. Attorney and he volunteered to go to Kosovo while the war was going on, as a civilian, he wasn’t a sucker.”
“When my son volunteered and joined the United States military as the Attorney General, and went to Iraq for a year, won the bronze star and other commendations, he wasn’t a sucker,” he added. “The servicemen and women he served with, particularly those [who] did not come home, were not losers.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Biden’s remarks.
Biden then pivoted to the economic fallout from COVID-19 and characterized Trump’s handling of the pandemic as worsening the effects of the economic downturn.
He slammed what he called a K-shaped economy and described what he thought an equitable recovery would look like.
“Economists are starting to call this recession a K-shaped recession, which is a fancy phrase for what’s wrong with everything about Trump’s presidency.” He added “The “K” means those at top are seeing things go up, and those in the middle and below are seeing things go down and get worse. It’s no surprise because at root of this is the fact that Trump has mismanaged the COVID crisis and that’s why it’s a K-shaped pandemic.”
The remarks come after the Bureau of Labor statistics released jobs numbers for August showing that U.S. employers added 1.4 million jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell to 8.4% and after the U.S. stock indices took at deep dive Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 807 points, or approximately 2.8%, at the close. The S&P 500 slipped more than 3.5% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 4.9%.
Trump touted the jobs numbers Friday on Twitter, saying “Great Jobs Numbers! 1.37 Million Jobs Added In August. Unemployment Rate Falls To 8.4% (Wow, much better than expected!). Broke the 10% level faster and deeper than thought possible.” In February, before the pandemic hit, the unemployment rate was 3.5%.
Biden and his campaign have consistently sought to paint Trump as a danger to the safety and livelihood of Americans. In remarks Monday, Biden tied simultaneous crises — the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic fallout from the pandemic and police-related violence — to Trump’s tenure.
“The common thread? An incumbent president who makes things worse, not better,” Biden said Monday during a speech in Pittsburgh. “An incumbent president who sows chaos rather than providing order.”
During those remarks, Biden said Americans are living in fear directly because of the president’s inaction.
“Mr. Trump, you want to talk about fear? If you know what people are afraid of in America? Afraid they’re going to get COVID. Afraid they’re going to get sick and die and that’s, in no small part, because of you,” he said.
Biden’s “Build Back Better” economy plan focuses on a domestic manufacturing and innovation strategy that the campaign says will create 5 million new jobs in addition to the jobs lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. The plan, the campaign says, is not just a response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has decimated parts of the American economy, but is also a broader roadmap to a more equitable economy.
Biden’s plan also proposes investment in green energy and jobs, pledges more affordable child care for families and includes promises of higher wages and benefits for workers. It pledges support to small business owners, extends unemployment benefits and contains a host of proposals to address racial equity, racial gaps in homeownership and wealth.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.