President Donald Trump told former Vice President Joe Biden Thursday he ran for the presidency in 2016 because the Democratic nominee “did a poor job” while serving in the Obama administration.
“You know Joe, I ran because of you,” Trump said during the final debate ahead of the Nov. 3 election. “I ran because of Barack Obama, because you did a poor job. If I thought you did a good job I would have never run.”
Trump’s remarks came after the president took aim at Biden for his role in crafting the controversial Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act as a senator in 1994. The law has been often criticized as a catalyst for mass incarceration, which disproportionately impacts Black Americans and minority communities.
Biden made his case for his plan for criminal justice reform, which includes incentivizing states to eliminate mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes and diverting individuals convicted solely on drug charges to drug courts and treatment services.
“No one should be going to jail because they have a drug problem. They should be going to rehabilitation,” Biden said. “We should fundamentally change the system and that’s what I’m going to do.”
President Trump to Joe Biden: "I ran because of you. I ran because of Barack Obama, because you did a poor job."
— CNN (@CNN) October 23, 2020
Earlier, Biden highlighted Trump’s own prior calls for more incarceration, pointing to the president’s push for the death penalty following the arrests of the Central Park Five in 1989 — the five Black and Latino teenagers wrongly convicted for the rape of a jogger.
“The fact of the matter is, in 2000, … after the crime bill had been the law for a while, this is a guy who said the problem with the crime bill is there’s not enough people in jail,” Biden said.
Trump questioned why Biden didn’t push for reform as vice president.
“Why didn’t you do that?” Trump asked. “Four years ago, even less than that. Why didn’t you do that? You were vice president. You keep talking about all of these things you were going to do and you’re going to do this. But you were there just a short time ago and you guys did nothing.”
He added later, “I’m looking at you now, you’re a politician. I ran because of you.”
Biden responded: “I’ll tell you what, I hope he does look at me because what’s happening here is you know who I am. You know who he is. You know his character. You know my character. You know our reputations for honor and telling the truth. I’m anxious to have this race. I’m anxious to see this take place. The character of the country is on the ballot. Our character is on the ballot. Look at us closely.”
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