President Trump, touting May’s lower-than-expected unemployment rate Friday, said a strong economy was the “greatest thing that could happen for race relations.”
And he seemed to proclaim that George Floyd, whose killing by police in Minneapolis has sparked over a week of protests, would be happy with the economic news.
“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that is happening for our country. This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.” Trump added, “This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
It was difficult to determine Trump’s exact intent, as he spent most of a 50-minute-long appearance in the Rose Garden talking about the economy, but frequently veered off onto other topics.
Asked what his plan was to address concerns expressed by protesters, Trump said: “That’s what my plan is. We’re going to have the strongest economy in the world.”
While the unemployment rate dipped for white and Hispanic workers, for African Americans, it nudged up by a tenth of a point. When asked by a reporter “how is that a victory?” Trump waved dismissively and said only, “You are something.”
Trump spoke at a signing ceremony for a measure making revisions to the Paycheck Protection Act. It was billed as a news conference, but Trump didn’t formally take questions.
Speaking later in the day, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, was sharply critical of Trump’s reference to Floyd. “George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’, have echoed all across this nation, quite frankly, all around the world,” Biden said. “For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd, I frankly think it’s despicable.”