The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has labeled Donald Trump as the first racist U.S. president for his reference to coronavirus as “China virus.”

During a virtual town hall held by the Service Employees International Union on Wednesday, July 22, Biden was questioned about Trump’s tendency to refer to the virus as the “Wuhan virus,” the “China virus” or the “kung flu.”

The former vice president claimed, “What President Trump has done in his spreading of racism … the way he deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening.”

“No sitting president has ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president. We’ve had racists, and they’ve existed. They’ve tried to get elected president. But he’s the first one that has,” Biden said.

Biden also accused President Trump of attempting to “divide the country, divide people, not pull them together.”

“Look what he’s doing now. He’s blaming everything on China. He’s blaming everything on the Chinese. And people don’t make a distinction, as you well know, [between] a South Korean and someone from Beijing. They make no distinction. It’s Asia. And he’s using it as a wedge,” the former vice president said.

Following his remarks at the town hall event, Biden’s campaign later had to clarify that there have been several racist presidents, and that Biden meant President Trump is the standout.

“There have been a number of racist American presidents, but Trump stands out—especially in modern history—because he made running on racism and division his calling card and won,” Symone Sanders, a Biden campaign senior adviser, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“He deliberately foments both, intentionally causing indescribable pain because he thinks it advantages him politically,” Sanders said of President Trump.

According to Politico, some early U.S. presidents owned slaves while in office, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Zachary Taylor.

President Trump responded to Biden’s comment, saying in a news briefing on Wednesday that he has “done more for Black Americans than anybody, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.”

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