President Joe Biden on Thursday cited the importance of unity and faith during what he described as a “dark, dark time” for many Americans, as he continued the presidential tradition of participation in the National Prayer Breakfast.
“For me, in the darkest moments, faith provides hope and solace, provides clarity and purpose, as well,” he said, appearing at the bipartisan breakfast virtually in pre-recorded remarks.
Biden called this year “different” amid the pandemic, citing death tolls, food insecurity and racial justice. He also cited the “existential threat of climate crisis.”
The President directly addressed the January 6 Capitol insurrection during his remarks.
“We just have to open our eyes. We’ve just witnessed images that we’ve never imagined — images that now we’ll never forget: a violent assault on the US Capitol — an assault on our democracy, on our Capitol, a violent attack that threatens lives and took lives. We know now we must confront and defeat political extremism, White supremacy and domestic terrorism,” he said.
Biden placed an emphasis on unity in his remarks, echoing themes from his inaugural address.
“These aren’t Democrats, Republicans going hungry in our nation. They’re our fellow Americans, fellow human beings,” he said, repeating the same refrain for “going without health care,” “being evicted from their homes,” and “losing their lives with this deadly virus.”
Four of Biden’s predecessors — former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — participated in Thursday’s prayer breakfast in some capacity, but former President Donald Trump did not.
Biden’s remarks stood in contrast to Trump’s remarks at the annual breakfast hosted by the nonprofit Fellowship Foundation. Last year, Trump, who had been acquitted in his first impeachment trial the day before, took veiled shots at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Mitt Romney, the only Republican who voted to convict him.
At his first appearance in 2017, Trump asked the room full of lawmakers, foreign dignitaries and religious leaders to “pray for Arnold” Schwarzenegger so that ratings of his show — NBC’s “The Apprentice” — would go up.