Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel on Monday to Houston to meet with the family of George Floyd, a black man whose death at the hands of the police touched off a nationwide outcry over racism and police brutality.
Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, will offer his condolences to members of the Floyd family and will also record a video message for Mr. Floyd’s funeral service on Tuesday, according to a Biden aide. Mr. Biden is not expected to attend the service — given his Secret Service protection, there were concerns about creating a disruption — but he wanted to offer in-person condolences, according to people familiar with the matter.
His trip to Texas — his first major trip outside his home state of Delaware and nearby Philadelphia in close to three months — follows a succession of speeches, round tables, online gatherings and a visit to the site of demonstrations by Mr. Biden to discuss police violence and systemic racism. The former vice president has spoken out passionately about the need to heal racial divisions in the country, and he has advocated a number of new police reforms.
Mr. Biden has also been sharply critical of President Trump, seeking to highlight stark contrasts with his opponent in the November election over issues of race, leadership and character at a moment of extraordinary national unrest.
Mr. Trump, who is using increasingly harsh language as he describes himself as a “law and order” president, has portrayed demonstrators as “thugs” and “terrorists,” and last week threatened to deploy the military nationwide to overpower protesters. And on Friday, as Mr. Trump discussed a stronger-than-expected jobs report, he also invoked Mr. Floyd, saying, “Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country.”
In a speech, Mr. Biden called those remarks “despicable.”
Earlier in the week, Mr. Biden laced into Mr. Trump in a separate address for fanning the “flames of hate”and turning “this country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears” as he called for a national reckoning over systemic racism.
While the protests have been largely peaceful, Mr. Biden also nodded to violent clashes between the police and some people in the crowds, as well as looters, urging a “nation enraged” that “we cannot let our rage consume us.”
Previously, both he and Mr. Trump spoke by phone with Mr. Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd. Philonise Floyd told CNN that the conversation with the president was “very brief.”
Mr. Biden will meet with the Floyd family amid ongoing protests against police violence and racism that are unfolding across the country, including huge marches on Saturday, and as Mr. Biden is still navigating how to travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak, which kept him confined to campaigning from home for months.
To many of Mr. Biden’s allies, perhaps his greatest strength is his ability to empathize. His first wife and daughter died in a car accident soon after he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, and his son Beau Biden died of brain cancer five years ago. He has eulogized dozens of prominent figures but has also often used his personal experiences with overcoming grief to connect with voters on the campaign trail who were in mourning.