Democratic presidential candidates demanded an immediate apology from Vice President Joe Biden after he invoked two segregationist former senators as part of a call for working with the opposition.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who like Biden is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, also blasted Biden’s odd comment that former Sen. James Eastland of Mississippi ‘never called me boy.’
‘You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys,’ Booker said in a statement Wednesday, after Biden’s comments at a New York hotel circulated.
‘Men like James O. Eastland used words like that, and the racist policies that accompanied them, to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity,’ Booker continued.
Vice President Joe Biden invoked two pro-segregation senators as he touted his ability to work with opponents, prompting fellow Democrats to call for an apology
‘Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone. I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together,’ Booker, who is black, continued, before demanding an apology.
‘And frankly, I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should.’
Also pounding Biden was New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a presidential candidate whose wife, Chirland McCray, is African American.
In a tweet featuring a photo of his inter-racial family, de Blasio wrote: ‘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,’ he wrote in the first of a pair of tweets.
‘It’s past time for apologies or evolution from @JoeBiden. He repeatedly demonstrates that he is out of step with the values of the modern Democratic Party,’ de Blasio continued.
Biden touted the cooperation and cordiality of a bygone era during a New York fundraiser Tuesday – including with avowed segregationists who helped stall civil rights legislation in the Senate.
Biden, speaking at a fundraiser at the Carlyle hotel in Manhattan, reaffirmed his commitment to work with Republicans and opposition figures – then bizarrely stressed his time working with fellow Democrats who spent decades in the Senate and took part in fighting desegregation efforts.
‘I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,’ Biden said of the Mississippi senator, channeling Eastland’s southern drawl.
‘He never called me boy, he always called me son,’ Biden said, affecting a southern drawl, according to a pool reporter who was there.
Biden also brought up Georgia Sen. Herman Talmadge, who like Eastland prooted segregation and owned a plantation in his home state.
Biden told a story about how Sen. James Eastland of Mississippi ‘never called me boy, he always called me son’
Biden called Senator Herman E. Talmadge (D-Ga.) one of the ‘meanest,’ but also said there was some ‘civility’ in the Senate during earlier decades
Biden referenced ‘a guy like Herman Talmadge, one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys. Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done,’ Biden said.
‘We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. 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,’ said Biden.
The vice president has previously stressed his ability to win votes across Delaware, a state with a mix of urban and rural populations and a complicated history on matters of race and civil rights.
Biden made the comments as a way to stress the need ‘to reach consensus under our system’ – but ended up pointing to one of the most divisive political struggles in the nation’s history.
Biden spent decades in the Senate
Earlier this week, speaking at the Poor People’s Campaign, Biden spoke about his home state’s racial history.
‘But my son Beau, before he died he was the attorney general. We were the only two Caucasian guys who won downstate, as they say, and won overwhelmingly in the black community,’ Biden said.
‘We couldn’t make up our mind, exactly, which side we wanted to be in the Civil War,’ he said of a state with the nation’s eighth largest black population that a history of slavery under the plantation system.
‘With a lot of poor folks down there, those poor folks — what they call ‘hanging chickens’ in the chicken industry … most of them Caucasian,’ he said, referencing farm jobs in Delaware.