5 of Trump’s Most Racist Rants During the First Presidential Debate

By Shani Saxon Sep 30, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump wore his racist beliefs on his sleeve during Tuesday’s (September 29) first presidential debate with Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden, held in Cleveland. The president’s combative approach to the face-off was heavy on racist tropes and rallying cries for the alt-right and those who love them. 

Here are 5 of Trump’s most racist moments at Tuesday’s debate:

1. “Stand back and stand by”: In a moment that mirrored the time Trump said, “you have very fine people on both sides” of clashes at a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president once again gave a wink and a nod to violent racists. When moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was, “willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities,” Trump threw his dog whistle away and answered loud and clear. “Who would you like me to condemn? The Proud Boys?” Trump asked. He then added that the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by.” 

"But I’ll tell you what,” Trump continued, “I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”


According to The New York Times, members of the extremist group celebrated after Trump’s validation of their organization, seeing it as some sort of rallying cry.

"Within minutes, members of the group were posting in private social media channels, calling the president’s comments “historic.” In one channel dedicated to the Proud Boys on Telegram, a private messaging app, group members called the president’s comment a tacit endorsement of their violent tactics," reports The Times. 

The Proud Boys, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), pose a real threat to the safety of American citizens. 

According to SPLC:

Established in the midst of the 2016 presidential election by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys are self-described “western chauvinists” who adamantly deny any connection to the racist “alt-right,” insisting they are simply a fraternal group spreading an “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt” agenda.

Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. Indeed, former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped to organize the event, which brought together Klansmen, anti-Semites, Southern racists, and militias. 

2. Trump calls racial equity training “racist”: POTUS said he ordered a ban on racial equity training inside federal agencies because the programs are “racist.” 

As Colorlines previously reported, Trump signed an early September memo ordering federal agencies to stop racial equity training for employees, calling it “divisive, anti-American propaganda.” 

“I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane, that it was a radical revolution that was taking place in our military, in our schools all over the place,” Trump said on Tuesday night. “And you know it. And so does everybody.”

According to The Times, Trump’s comments came “came one day after the White House issued its second set of guidelines on the attempted bans. The guidelines outlined how the government would retaliate against those who did not follow the new restrictions.”

3. Blame it on China: Trump continued to refer to COVID-19 as the “China plague.” 

“We built the greatest economy in history, we closed it down because of the China plague,” said Trump, once again fanning the flames of anti-Asian racism. 

4. Fear and loathing in the suburbs: Trump signaled to white Americans that a Joe Biden presidency would threaten the future of American suburbs. “Our suburbs would be gone,” he said.

Biden quickly fired back at Trump’s statement, saying, “This is not 1950. All these dog whistles are not working anymore.”

“What really is a threat to the suburbs and the safety is his failure to deal with COVID,” Biden added. 

5. Pocahontas: Trump is consistent if nothing else. He has been referring to Massachusetts Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” for years, even once using the derogatory nickname during a 2017 event honoring Native American veterans at the White House.

When Biden mentioned that he beat Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primary, Trump responded with, “If Pocahontas would’ve left two days early, you would’ve lost every primary on Super Tuesday.”

“You got very lucky,” Trump added.