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‘A Battle for the Soul of This Nation.’ Joe Biden Tears Into President Trump’s Charlottesville Response

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Former Vice President Joe Biden strongly rebuked President Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville, Va. in an op-ed Sunday, urging Americans to fight for what he characterized as “a battle for the soul of this nation.”

While Biden acknowledged that America has fought white supremacists before, he argued that the current situation feels different because of President Trump’s hesitancy to condemn these groups. Trump came under near-universal criticism from both sides of the aisle for refusing to rebuke white supremacists in the immediate aftermath of the Charlottesville attack, when a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally, killing one woman and inuring at least dozen others.

“Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate. We have an American president who has emboldened white supremacists with messages of comfort and support,” Biden wrote in the Atlantic Sunday. “This is a moment for this nation to declare what the president can’t with any clarity, consistency, or conviction: There is no place for these hate groups in America.”

Biden also criticized the president’s decision to pardon Joe Arpaio, arguing that the former Arizona Sheriff “terrorized the Latino community.”

But, ultimately, Biden expressed optimism the nation would prevail.

“Joined together, we will win this battle for our soul,” he wrote. “Because if there’s one thing I know about the American people, it’s this: When it has mattered most, they have never let this nation down.”

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Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com