Joe Biden: ‘ I shouldn’t have been so cavalier’
Biden backtracks comments made about black voters on a morning radio show Friday
(ABC News) –Presumptive Democratic Nominee Joe Biden has come under fire for comments he made during an interview with “The Breakfast Club” radio program, in which he quipped that if African American voters support President Trump over him in November, they aren’t “black.”
“Well, I’ll tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” Biden told radio personality Charlamagne tha God, who hosts the program, which is particularly popular among black millennials, a voting bloc the former vice president is hoping to woo.
“It don’t have nothing to do with Trump, it has to do with the fact — I want something for my community,” Charlamagne replied.
“Take a look at my record! I extended the Voting Rights Act 25 years’ I have a record that is second to none. The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run. I mean, come on, take a look at the record,” Biden fired back.
Later Friday, Biden joined a call with the National Black Chamber of Commerce and conceded that he was “much too cavalier” in his remarks, and said he did not take the black vote for granted.
“I know the comments have come off like I was taking the African vote for granted. But nothing could be further from the truth,” Biden said on the call.
“I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden added, “I don’t take [the black vote] for granted at all. And no one, no one should have to vote for any party, based on their race, their religion, their background. There are African-Americans who think that Trump was worth voting for. I don’t think so, I’m prepared to put my record against his. That was the bottom line and it was really unfortunate, I shouldn’t have been so cavalier,” Biden said.
Biden also offered strong criticism of President Trump’s rhetoric on race.
“Donald Trump…this is the same man who called Africa — you know — s-hole countries, while also claiming there were fine people on both sides in Charlottesville as those racists came out of the fields carrying torches. He’s lied about President Obama’s birth certificate,” Biden said.
Biden has consistently criticized Trump’s rhetoric on race, frequently charging in speeches on the campaign trail that the president is “fanning the flames” of white supremacy and hate in America. The presumptive Democratic nominee has also made the tragic 2017 events in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a woman was killed protesting a rally attended by white supremacists, a centerpiece of his campaign, as well as Trump’s comments that there were “very fine people,” on both sides that took part in the event.
Earlier Friday, Biden’s campaign said the comments were made “in jest” and were intended to show Biden’s confidence in his record supporting minority communities as opposed to President Trump’s record which has included a travel ban that affected people coming from predominantly Muslim countries, hardline immigration policies and comments about blacks and Latinos seen as offensive by many.
“Vice President Biden spent his career fighting alongside and for the African American community. He won his party’s nomination by earning every vote and meeting people where they are and that’s exactly what he intends to do this November,” Symone Sanders, a senior advisor for Biden tweeted following the interview.
“The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period,” Sanders continued.
Biden’s comments that sparked criticism, which came towards the end of a nearly 20-minute long, at times combative, interview that touched on Biden’s views on criminal justice reform, marijuana legalization, and delved into his role in crafting the controversial 1994 Crime Bill that critics argue had a disproportionate impact on minority communities and which critics say helped lay the groundwork for mass incarceration.
In a statement given to the news website Mediaite, Charlamagne said his response to Biden during the interview stood on its own.
“We have been loyal to Democrats for a long time, black people have invested a lot into that party and the return on investment has not been great,” he wrote. “As Biden said in our brief interview when I asked him if Dems owe the black community ABSOLUTELY was his answer. So let’s see what you got!!! Votes are Quid Pro Quo. You can’t possibly want me to Fear Trump MORE than I want something for my people,” the statement read.
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign quickly sought to cast the comment as racist and condescending.
“Joe Biden believes Black men and women are incapable of being independent or free thinking. He truly believes that he, a 77-year-old white man, should dictate how Black people should behave,” Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to Trump’s campaign, who is also African-American, wrote in a statement released Friday morning.
“That is the most arrogant, condescending comment I’ve heard in a very long time and that’s saying something,” Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the lone black Republican in the U.S. Senate, said in an interview Friday on Fox News.