CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Former Vice President Joe Biden invoked the debunked “very fine people” hoax to attack President Donald Trump at a rally Monday night in a half-empty college gym.
The rally was intended to show support ahead of Tuesday night’s Democrat debate, and Saturday’s Democratic caucuses. Biden has seen the Palmetto State as his “firewall,” based on his support among black voters, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been catching up. Only about 200 people showed up on Monday night, standing in a circle in half a gymnasium at the College of Charleston.
Biden claimed, as he has since the start of his campaign, that Trump called neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rioted in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 “very fine people.” In fact, the transcript of Trump’s remarks shows clearly that he said they should be “condemned totally.” He used the phrase “very fine people” to refer specifically to non-violent protesters, left and right, on either side of the question of whether a historic Confederate statue should be removed from a local park.
The former vice president also claimed, falsely, that the president used the phrase “very fine people” to refer to the extremists who murdered Heather Heyer, a protester against the statue and the neo-Nazis. In fact, the transcript shows, Trump specifically referred to her murder as an act of “terrorism.”
Biden told the half-empty room:
This guy is more George Wallace than he is George Washington … When in fact all those folks came out of the fields in Charlottesville, Virginia — close your eyes, and remember, friends, what you saw on that television — you saw people coming out of fields with lighted torches at night, spewing hate, antisemitic bile, accompanied by white supremacists and Ki Klux Klan, and in fact when a young woman was killed, resisting the hate, they asked the president what he thought, what did he think? He said there were, quote, “very fine people on both sides.” No president has ever done anything like that.
Breitbart News challenged Biden at the Iowa State Fair last summer over his repeated habit of misquoting Trump. Biden has persisted in using the “very fine people” hoax, regardless.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.