Biden Acknowledges His White Privilege During A Town Hall In Pennsylvania

The Democratic presidential nominee also talked about health care workers, fracking, and the prospect of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall event on September 17, 2020 | Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall event on September 17, 2020 | Getty Images

During a socially distanced town hall on Thursday, Joe Biden addressed a wide range of subjects, from his stance on fracking to his own white privilege. 

The drive-in event was moderated by Anderson Cooper and took place in Moosic, outside the Democratic presidential candidate’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The event came two days after President Trump appeared at a town hall hosted by ABC News.

Biden was asked by resident Joseph Farley if the former VP has a plan to help health care workers, like himself, who are financially struggling. Biden then compared his race against incumbent President Trump to a race between hard-working Scranton and elitist Park Avenue in New York City. 

"I view this campaign as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue," Biden explained. "All Trump can see from Park Avenue is Wall Street. All he thinks about is the stock market."

"In my neighborhood in Scranton, not a lot of people [own stock.] We have to make sure that health care workers are paid, and paid a decent wage. At $15 an hour? It's not enough for a health care worker," Biden continued, referencing the minimum wage that activists nationwide have fought for.

When questioned by moderator Cooper about his platform on fracking for natural gas, Biden said that he doesn’t plan on ending the controversial oil extraction method because it would eliminate jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio, two key battleground states.

“Fracking has to continue because we need a transition,” Biden said. “We’re going to get to net zero emissions by 2050 and we’ll get to net zero power emissions by 2035. But There’s no rationale to eliminate, right now, fracking.”

When an environmentally-minded voter and Cooper asked Biden if he backs the Green New Deal or “thinks it’s too much,” Biden said he didn’t "think it was too much,” but added “I have my own deal.”

The Green New Deal is a proposed package of U.S. legislation supported by many progressive lawmakers that aims to address both climate change and economic inequality. Biden has proposed a $2 trillion clean energy plan that addresses the climate crisis.

Cooper also asked Biden if the candidate sees ways he’s benefited from white privilege. Biden replied, “Sure, I’ve benefited just because I don’t have to go through what my Black brothers and sisters have had to go through."  

Biden’s view on white privilege contrasts sharply with that of President Trump. In one of the interviews for Bob Woodward’s new book “Rage,” Woodward asked Trump if his privilege has “isolated” him in any way. Trump responded, “No. You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.” In an apparent appeal to white voters on Thursday, the president also made controversial comments about the history of slavery.

During the town hall, Biden brought up Attorney General Bill Barr's recent controversial comments about comparing stay-at-home measures implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 and slavery.

“What Bill Barr recently said is outrageous,” Biden said. “I will tell you what takes away your freedom, not being able to see your kid, not being able to go to the football game or baseball game, not seeing your mom or dad sick in the hospital, not being able to do the things, that’s what is costing us our freedom.”

The former VP also said he doesn’t trust Trump on the readiness of a COVID-19 vaccine. The president has repeatedly said a vaccine will be ready by Election Day, drawing accusations that he’d politicize the scientific work and undermine public trust in a vaccine’s efficacy.

 Biden said he trusts coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, whose advice the president has frequently chosen to ignore.

“I don't trust the President on vaccines. I trust Dr. Fauci. If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I would take the vaccine. We should listen to the scientists, not to the President," Biden said.