Former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden is under fire for comments he made this week at a New York City fund-raiser.
Biden fondly talked about his relationship with late Senators who were known segregationists.
The New York Times reports:
At the event, Mr. Biden noted that he served with the late Senators James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, both Democrats who were staunch opponents of desegregation. Mr. Eastland was the powerful chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Mr. Biden entered the chamber in 1973.
Referring to Senator Eastland, Biden also said, “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’”
Outrage over Biden’s comments was swift.
Democrat politicians blasted Biden over his comments including 2020 presidential candidates.
California Senator Kamala Harris responded to reporters about Biden’s comments (watch video).
— Mariam Khan (@MKhan47) June 19, 2019
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted Biden, saying he was “out of step.”
It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of “civility” typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal & that whites were entitled to “the pursuit of dead n*ggers." (1/2) pic.twitter.com/yoOOkpaTX2
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) June 19, 2019
On CNN, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker took great offense to Biden’s “boy” comment, calling it “deeply disappointing,” and demanded an apology from the former vice president (watch video).
Vice President Joe Biden told me I should know better. As a Black man in America, here's what I know: pic.twitter.com/MbbrVbi3BJ
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) June 20, 2019
Biden not only responded to Booker, saying, “Apologize for what? Cory should apologize, he knows better. There’s not a racist bone in my body,” but also doubled down and tried to clarify his initial comments.
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden, Democratic senator from Delaware from 1971-2008, told an audience Wednesday. “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. . . . But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
Biden’s Senior Adviser Symone Sanders came to his defense.
.@JoeBiden did not praise a segregationist. That is a disingenuous take. He basically said sometimes in Congress, one has to work with terrible or down right racist folks to get things done. And then went on to say when you can't work with them, work around them.
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) June 19, 2019
A story by Slate.com embedded a video interview of Eastland from 1957 that shows the Senator’s racist views.
Biden’s comments about segregationists could backfire with black voters in the upcoming primaries.