President Trump touted the jobs report Friday, and said that George Floyd would be proud of a “great day” for the country.
Trump invoked Floyd’s name midway through a lengthy address in the Rose Garden, in which he took credit for a rebound in the unemployment rate.
“Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying there’s a great thing happening for our country,” Trump said. “There’s a great day for him, a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
It was not entirely clear what “great thing” Trump was referring to. He had spent much of the address up to that point highlighting the morning’s jobs report, which showed the unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May from 14.7% in April.
But he also spoke about the protests against police violence in the wake of Floyd’s death on May 25 — saying it was important for law enforcement to “dominate the streets.” Just before mentioning Floyd by name, however, he abruptly changed gears, reading a written statement that endorsed equal treatment by law enforcement.
“Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color gender or creed,” Trump said. “They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen.”
He then said that Floyd would be “looking down” on “a great day for him.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden responded to Trump’s remarks during his own address on the unemployment numbers.
“George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’ have echoed all across this nation, and quite frankly around the world,” Biden said. “For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd I frankly think is despicable. The fact that he did so on a day that black unemployment rose, Hispanic unemployment rose, black youth unemployment skyrocketed, tells you everything you need to know about this man.”
Earlier, Trump had referred to himself in the third person in a discussion of support for historically black colleges and universities.
“Nobody’s ever done for the black community what President Trump has done,” he said.
Later in his address, Trump returned to the subject of the jobs report.
“Today is probably if you think of it the greatest comeback in American history,” he said. “Our stock market is almost, just short, of an all time high.”
Biden spoke at Delaware State University, a historically black college in Dover, Del. He faulted Trump for “crowing” about the jobs report, saying that he was effectively “hanging a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.”
“The unemployment rate remains the highest it’s been in nearly a century,” Biden said. “He’s out there spiking the ball, completely oblivious to the tens of millions of people who are facing the greatest struggle of their lives. These folks aren’t feeling any less pain today than they were yesterday.”