By JOHN VERHOVEK and MOLLY NAGLE, ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden praised America as an overwhelmingly “decent” nation Thursday night, but said that there are “10 to 15% of the people out there” that are “just not very good people.”“The words a president says matter. So when the President stands up and divides people all the time, you’re going to get the worst of us to come out. The worst in us all to come out,” Biden said Thursday evening during a virtual town hall.“Do we really think this is as good as we can be as a nation? I don’t think the vast majority of people think that. There are probably anywhere from 10 to 15% of the people out there, they’re just not very good people. But that’s not who we are. The vast majority of people are decent. We have to appeal to that and we have to unite people, bring them together,” Biden added, echoing a rhetorical question he asked during his speech earlier this week in Philadelphia.The comment came amid a town hall with Young Americans hosted by actor Don Cheadle, in which much of the discussion focused on race, in the midst of protests across the country of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.Biden’s comments have drawn parallels with past candidate comments that have generalized a portion of the population in more incendiary ways.During the 2012 election, videotaped comments of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at a fundraiser suggesting that 47% of the population does not pay income taxes, are “dependent on the government” and feel “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it,” created wide-spread criticism of the now-Senator.In 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton garnered criticism for saying that half of then-candidate Donald Trump’s supporters fit into a “basket of deplorables.” Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, later issued a statement saying her characterization was “wrong” but still condemned what she argued were the Trump campaign’s connections to various “alt-right” groups.Biden began Thursday night’s discussion, which heard from several young black community leaders who asked Biden about his policy agenda, with an acknowledgement of the privileges he is afforded in American society as a white man.“I’m a white man. I think I understand, but I can’t feel it. I mean I feel it, but I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man walking down the street and be accosted. To a black man walking down the street be arrested, be a black man walking down the street and God forbid something worse happened to me,” Biden said.The former vice president, who pledged to hold similar conversations in the future, echoed some of the sentiment from a speech he gave earlier this week following a weekend of protests that were marred by outbursts of violence and looting.“Hate didn’t begin with Donald Trump. It’s not gonna end with him. The history of our country is not a fairy tale,” Biden said. “We’re in a battle for the soul of this nation that has been a constant push and pull for over 200 years. I call every American to ask themselves, ask them the following– is this who we are, what we’re seeing now? Is this we want to be? Is this what we will pass on to our kids and our grandkids?”President Trump has often been accused of stoking division during his over three years in office, most recently for his decision to clear out peaceful protesters from a park in front of the White House in order for him to walk across the street for a photo op at St. John’s Church, which was partially set on fire during protests last week.The president has defended the decision, which was widely condemned, and tweeted a letter Thursday written by his former attorney John Dowd addressing former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that labeled the protesters outside the White House “not real” and “terrorists.”Trump has also often used rhetoric that stokes racial tension throughout his campaign and three years as president, and came under heavy criticism in 2017 when he said there were “very fine people on both sides” of clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia during a white supremacist rally. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.