Biden: Americans are 'crying out for leadership'

Don Jacobson

June 2 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, speaking Tuesday in his first public speech since March, criticized President Donald Trump's response to national unrest and called it a "wake-up call" for America.

Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, spoke to a crowd at Philadelphia City Hall late Tuesday morning, in a city that's already seen days of mass opposition to the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.


"'I can't breathe' -- George Floyd's last words," he said. "But they didn't die with him. They're still being heard. They're echoing across this nation. ... it's time to listen to those words. To try and understand them. To respond to them. Respond with action."

During his 23-minute address, the former vice president denounced Trump's leadership over the past week since Floyd's death and for the past three months during the coronavirus crisis. He accused the president of narcissism and sowing hatred, and vowed that he'll do better if elected in November.

RELATED Biden tells black leaders he will fight against institutional racism

"I promise you this: I won't traffic in fear and division," he said. "I won't fan the flames of hate. I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country -- not use them for political gain.


"[Our] country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us. Leadership that brings us together. Leadership that can recognize pain and the grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for a long time."

Monday, Biden told black leaders that as president he plans to fight institutional racism and re-establish a Justice Department police oversight body.

RELATED Joe Biden wins Oregon presidential primary

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday urged Trump to tone down his rhetoric and help the nation heal.

"We would hope that the president of the United States would follow the lead of so many other presidents before him to be a healer-in-chief, and not a fanner of the flame," she said.

Former President Barack Obama struck a similar tone on Monday and called on black Americans to voice their anger and desire for change politically.

RELATED 'Super Tuesday II': 8 states and D.C. hold presidential primaries

Protesters demand justice in police killing of George Floyd

Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines