President Donald Trump, who claimed during Thursday’s presidential debate that he was the “least racist person” in the room, made several racist remarks during the event — including referring to undocumented immigrants as “murderers” and “rapists,” and lambasting those who attend their immigration hearings as having the “lowest IQ.”
Trump ― who also waded into racist territory during the first presidential debate last month ― claimed during the debate that he’d done more for people of color than any president since Abraham Lincoln. That suggestion was ridiculed by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who accused Trump of having poured “fuel on every single racist fire.”
“This guy is a dog whistle as big as a foghorn,” Biden said during the second and final presidential debate before Election Day. The former vice president called out Trump’s previous refusal to condemn white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys, as well as his Islamophobic immigration policies.
Trump described undocumented migrants as murderers, rapists and “very bad” people.
“Catch and release is a disaster,” Trump said, referring to the process through which certain immigrants ― mostly children and asylum-seekers ― are released into the U.S. pending their immigration hearings. “A murderer would come in, a rapist would come in, a very bad person would come in.”
Trump has used such inflammatory language before in describing immigrants from Mexico.
He then suggested that only immigrants “with the lowest IQ” return for their immigration hearings.
Trump said that “less than 1%” of immigrants who are released “come back” ― and that those who do have the “lowest IQ.”
Researchers at Syracuse University said last year that more than 80% of migrant families attended all their court hearings.
Trump, who has been scrutinized for his inadequate response to the coronavirus, continued to blame China for the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.
“It’s China’s fault,” the president, who has previously referred to COVID-19 as the “China plague” and the “China virus,” said of the pandemic on U.S. soil.
He also described China, India and Russia as “filthy.”
Responding to a question about climate change, Trump said he cared about getting “crystal clear” water and the “cleanest” air in the U.S.
“Look at China, how filthy it is! Look at Russia. Look at India ― it’s filthy! The air is filthy,” he said.
Trump side-stepped a question about the impact of polluted sites on people of color.
Asked by moderator Kristen Welker ― the first Black woman to moderate a presidential debate since 1992 — about the disproportionate health impacts that oil refineries and chemical plants have on people of color, Trump said only that “the families we’re talking about are employed heavily” and are “making a lot of money.”
He also refused to apologize for earlier referring to the Black Lives Matter movement as a “symbol of hate” and insisted instead that he was “the least racist person in this room.”
Trump said his “first glimpse” of Black Lives Matter “was a terrible thing,” citing an unaffiliated protest march from 2015.
“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,” he said.