Live

Watch CBSN Live

Trump says he's the "least racist person in the room." Biden says he's "one of the most racist presidents."

Biden and Trump on race in America
Biden and Trump on race in America 14:08

During the final presidential debate on Thursday night, President Trump was asked by moderator Kristen Welker about racial strife and hate in the U.S. The president answered by saying he is the "least racist person in this room." His opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, had another way to describe him. 

Welker began her questions on the topic of race by asking "Mr. President, you've described the Black Lives Matter movement as a symbol of hate. You shared a video of a man chanting 'white power' to millions of your supporters. You've said that Black professional athletes exercising their First Amendment rights should be fired. What do you say to Americans who say that that kind of language, from a president, is contributing to a climate of hate, and racial strife?"

Mr. Trump answered: "You have to understand, the first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, they were chanting, 'Pigs in a blanket,' talking about police." It's unclear what protest he is referring to where this chant was heard, since this is not a phrase associated with Black Lives Matter. 

"That was my first glimpse of Black Lives Matter. I thought it was a terrible thing," he continued. "As far as my relationships with all people, I think I have great relationships with all people. I am the least racist person in this room."

Welker then asked what Mr. Trump has to say to Americans who are concerned about that rhetoric. 

"I don't know what to say," Mr. Trump said. "I have criminal justice reform done, and prison reform, and opportunities, I took care of Black colleges and universities. I don't know what to say. They could say anything. I mean, they could say anything. It makes me sad. I am the least racist person. I can't even see the audience, because it is so dark, but I don't care who's in the audience, I'm the least race in person in this room."

Biden was then given a chance to respond. "Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we've had in modern history," Biden said, referring to Mr. Trump as "Abraham Lincoln" sarcastically. "He pours fuel on every single racist fire."

"He started off his campaign, coming down the escalator saying he was going to get rid of the Mexican rapists," Biden continued. "He's banned Muslims because they are Muslim. He has moved around, and made everything worse, across the board."

Mr. Biden then brought up Mr. Trump's comments about the Proud Boys during the last presidential debate. At that debate, Mr. Trump told the far-right group to "stand back and stand by," a comment the Proud Boys celebrated afterward. 

"Come on," Biden said. "This guy is a dog whistle about as big as the fog horn." 

Mr. Trump was given 10 seconds to respond. He questioned why Biden brought up Abraham Lincoln. "I didn't say I'm Abraham Lincoln, I said not since Abraham Lincoln has anybody done what I've done for the Black community." He also criticized Biden for supporting crime bills. 

The 1994 crime bill, which Mr. Trump was seemingly referring to, enforced harsher penalties for drug offenses.

Welker then asked about the crime bills Biden supported as a senator in the 1980s and '90s, which he accused of contributing to the incarceration of tens of thousands of Black men. Biden said in the '80s, 100 senators voted on a bill on drugs and how to deal with them. "It was a mistake. I have been trying to change it since," he said. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue