Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at the Iowa Federation Labor Convention on Aug. 21. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that racism in the U.S. is "overwhelmingly a white man’s problem visited on people of color" as he criticized President Trump over the racial divide, USA Today reports.

What presidents say matter … They can make markets rise and fall. They can send people to war. They can, in fact, also appeal to the worst damn instincts of human nature."
— Biden's remarks to reporters, according to USA Today

Why it matters: Racism has emerged as a key issue for 2020 candidates. Trump has been denounced by Democrats for his hardline immigration policies and racist tweets. Several Democratic presidential candidates have called Trump a "white supremacist." Biden said previously the president "fanned the flames of white supremacy."

  • Biden has himself been criticized by 2020 rivals for citing segregationists as examples of how the Senate used to be more civil. He has since apologized for those comments.

Between the lines: Per AP, it's unsurprising that Biden would focus on race in his interview with a small group of reporters Tuesday, as he's ahead of Democratic rivals in most polls largely because of black voters' support — a key strategy as he aims to maximize African American and Latino turnout an "overwhelming focus" of his effort.

  • In the interview, Biden declared that racism and white supremacists have "always existed" in America, but such behavior would "not be tolerated" in his administration, per AP.

The other side: Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh dismissedBiden’s claim that Trump had inflamed racial tensions in the U.S, AP reports.

"Having moved on from the Russia Hoax, Democrats are now employing the oldest play in the Democrat playbook: falsely accusing their opponent of racism, extending it even to the President’s supporters. Calling half the country racist is not a winning strategy."
— Tim Murtaugh comments to AP

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