Around 7:20 a.m. on Thursday, Susan Bro began getting text messages. Was she all right? How did she feel about what Joe Biden had done?
“What’d he do?” she recalled wondering. “I was sound asleep.”
Mr. Biden, it turned out, had announced that he would run for president in a video, in which he invoked the white supremacist march through Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017 and referenced the “brave young woman” who lost her life during it.
That young woman was Ms. Bro’s daughter, Heather D. Heyer, an anti-racism activist who was killed by a white supremacist who plowed his car down a narrow street packed with people, injuring many of them.
Ms. Bro, 62, said Mr. Biden called her on Thursday after the video was released. In a telephone interview on Friday, which has been edited for length and clarity, she discussed her reaction to the video and how she felt about Charlottesville being used as the backdrop to the former vice president’s campaign announcement.
Q. First let me just ask you: How are you doing after the events of yesterday?
A. Yesterday was not that big a deal, except that it was an interruption to my schedule. I had a busy day planned out, and I had to revise all my plans.
Apparently a rumor was swirling that I was deeply traumatized and upset, and that’s completely false. I just was like “Oh, O.K., here we go again.”
That story is referenced all the time. It is a crucial moment for white people in America, and people in general around the world, to pay attention that there is a great deal of hate for a lot of people still. When we’re not affected by something we tend to ignore it. It’s just human nature. We don’t ignore this one because now it’s been put in our face.
How did you come to learn of Mr. Biden’s video?
This was very similar to what happened when Heather was killed, except instead of a knock at the door, I got a phone call at 7:20 a.m. — or a text message, actually.
He did finally call me about 4:30 p.m. yesterday. We talked about bereavement. He’s lost a son to lengthy illness and he’s lost a wife and daughter to a catastrophic car wreck. So we definitely understood each other along that line.
I told him, “Now we know what your stance is on one issue.” I’m not sure any candidate is going to come out and say they’re in favor of violence. So we’ll see what he does now with what he says, and we’ll see what his other issues are — and I’m watching the other candidates, too. I mean, there are so many!
Did he say anything else to you that you found memorable?
I can separate knowing who someone is in their personal life from knowing who someone is as a politician. I still have to be convinced of anybody being worthy of my vote. He seemed like an O.K. guy talking to him. I don’t know anything about his policies or his platform.
He had heard the rumor that I was traumatized, too, and I heard rumors that other people were. I haven’t really talked to anybody about it one way or the other, but I said, “If you had asked me beforehand, I would have told you that this could backfire on you.”
And what did he say in response?
I don’t really remember that he answered me.
How long was the phone call?
About 20 minutes, while I was driving through town.
I assume that at some point yesterday morning you watched Mr. Biden’s video?
Yes, I watched it before I commented to anybody about it.
And what did you make of it? He doesn’t use Heather’s name, but he does talk about a “brave young woman.”
I noted that he did not use her name, and I commented to him about that, and I said, “I assume that’s because you didn’t check with me first.” And he said, “That is correct.”
It’s not about Heather. The issue of hate was there way before Heather and it continues to this day.
Mr. Biden called what happened in Charlottesville a “defining moment” for the country. And he highlighted President Trump’s remark that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the march. I know that the Heather Heyer Foundation does not issue endorsements, but can you talk about your reaction to that statement, because it really seemed to strike a nerve with lots of people.
Well, it still does. That was the main reason I said I don’t really need to talk to Trump. We’re both busy people. Obviously we don’t have anything to say to one another.
So is it fair to say the president’s comment still bothers you?
I will never accept that phrase as an O.K. phrase — put it that way. It’s not something I sit around and think about, but yeah, I definitely disagree with that statement.
When you step back and realize that there’s a candidate for president who is probably a front-runner, and he chose to focus on Charlottesville, have you had a chance to process that?
He’s trying to set himself apart from other candidates, because I haven’t heard any of the candidates express history with this. I think that’s what the basis of it was. The people he wants to vote for him, he very much knows they are not Trump fans, so he’s going to play to that.
It’s politics. This is what you’d expect to happen.
Do you have any sense of how people in Charlottesville feel about Mr. Biden using it as a backdrop to announce his campaign?
Only because I read Twitter and watched the news last night. I haven’t talked to anybody about it locally. But there are some for and some against. Some are happy that the issues of hate and prejudice have not been forgotten on the national stage. And others are saying he’s never even been here, how dare he use our pain and suffering? And I can see both points of view.
Have you formed an opinion about any other candidate at this point?
Nope, I really haven’t had time to listen to them. I get all their emails, I just haven’t had time to read them.