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Joe Biden Details His Plan To Advance Racial Equity In the U.S.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Former Vice President Joe Biden took questions from reporters today for an extended period of time, the first in weeks. Speaking in Delaware, Biden explained why he thinks polls put him so far ahead of President Trump even as Biden rarely heads out to campaign.

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JOE BIDEN: What seems to be the case is many Americans, those who don't like me and those who do, view me as the antithesis of Trump. And I believe that I am.

SHAPIRO: Biden also rolled out the final plank of a broad economic plan that he has been focusing on in recent weeks. Today he detailed how he plans to advance racial economic equality. NPR's Scott Detrow joins us now for more. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey there.

SHAPIRO: Tell us about this proposal that the former vice president rolled out today.

DETROW: It tries to do a lot. It's aimed at boosting minority-owned businesses and taking several other steps to help people of color. Biden wants to spend $30 billion to leverage billions more in investments for minority businesses. That would be a mix of tax credits, low-interest loans and steering the government purchases in other ways to incentivize private investment, too. This really scoops up a lot of proposals that Biden had already announced in order to underscore that they would help people of color, and that includes broad steps like lowering student debt and lowering the cost of higher education.

We should note the Trump campaign's response to all of this. In a statement, the campaign said, quote, "no one should listen to a lecture on racial justice from Joe Biden," citing various things Biden has said over the years, including warm words about segregationist senators that became a story on the campaign trail last year.

SHAPIRO: We said this is just the latest in a series of economic proposals. How does this one fit into his broader campaign and how he's positioning himself in November?

DETROW: It was an interesting shift over the past month. Biden has spent a lot of this campaign mostly focusing his attention and his messaging on criticizing President Trump's policies and statements. So now you've had this series of speeches laying out a Biden economic agenda, and this has happened at the same time that the party's platform has been finalized. Biden talked at length about aggressively shifting the country to clean energy, to keeping more manufacturing in the U.S. and making child care more affordable and reliable. That's obviously been a huge economic and a lot of other things challenge over the last few months in this pandemic.

(Inaudible) serves a couple purposes for Biden. It lays out an agenda, sure, but it also gets him out on the campaign trail and creates a reason to deliver a speech once a week. Even before the pandemic, it was hard to compete with an incumbent president for attention, especially for somebody like Biden who doesn't currently hold office. This also really lays out the contrast that Biden has all these plans and President Trump really has struggled at times to lay out a specific policy goal for a second term and has not really given many details on what he would want to do with another four years.

SHAPIRO: Today was also significant because it was the first time Biden's taken extended questions from reporters in a long time. What stood out to you about that?

DETROW: He was asked about the vice presidential search, not much detail on whether or not he's having meetings with finalists, but he did say he'll name a running mate next week. So we can assume those meetings are taking place. He also responded to President Trump's new campaign message which focuses on what the president calls law and order and highlighting more violent aspects of the protests in the past month and saying that Biden's presidency would lead to higher crime and ineffective police departments. Here's what Biden said about those attack ads.

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BIDEN: That is all about trying to come up with a bizarre law and order 2020 campaign thing to try to scare the devil out of the American people.

DETROW: Biden also pointed out that polls show overwhelming support for the protest movement and that most voters view the president's response as divisive.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Scott Detrow, thank you.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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