The Trump campaign took a speech in which Joe Biden quoted Pope Francis on Tuesday and deceptively edited the footage to make it seem as if the Democratic nominee was mentally unfit to be president.
Biden had given the speech at a rally in Warm Springs, Georgia.
“I believe this election is about who we are as a nation, what we believe, and maybe most importantly, who we want to be. It’s about our essence,” Biden said. “It’s about what makes us Americans. It’s that fundamental.”
“Time and again, throughout our history, we’ve seen charlatans, the con men, the phony populist, who sought the play on our fears, appeal to our worst appetites, and pick at the oldest scabs we have for their own political gain,” he added.
In what may have been a veiled jab at the president, Biden went on to argue that these “charlatans” increased division in the United States to benefit themselves, and then quoted Pope Francis.
“In a recent encyclical, Pope Francis warns us against this phony populism, that appeals to ‘the basest and most selfish instincts.’ He goes on to say, ‘Politics is something more noble than posturing, marketing, and media spin. These sow nothing but division, conflict, and a bleak cynicism.’ He said, ‘For those who seek to lead, we do well to ask ourselves, why am I doing this? Why? What is my real aim?’ Pope Francis asked questions that anyone who seeks to lead this great nation should be able to answer. And my answer is this: I run to unite this nation and to heal this nation. I’ve said that from the beginning. It is badly necessary.”
Shortly after Biden’s rally, the Trump War Room Twitter account, which Trump’s campaign manages, zeroed in on the portion of the speech where Biden quoted the pope’s questions — “Why am I doing this? Why? What is my real aim?” — eliminating all other context.
As of Wednesday, the misleading tweet had received over five thousand likes and more than a thousand retweets.
Mike Gwin, the deputy rapid response director for Joe Biden’s team, blasted the tweet and questioned why the Trump campaign was attacking Biden’s faith. The Democratic nominee is open about his beliefs as a Catholic and previously stated that his faith helped him endure the losses of his first wife and daughter in a car crash in 1972, and then the death of his son Beau from brain cancer in 2015.
If elected, Biden would only be the second Catholic president since John F. Kennedy.