Former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden is under fire for fondly reminiscing about his “civil” relationship with segregationist senators in the 1970s and 1980s. Speaking at a fundraiser in New York City Tuesday night, Biden expressed nostalgia for his relationship with the late Democratic pro-segregation Senators James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia. Biden reportedly said, “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. … He never called me 'boy'; he called me 'son.'” Biden went on to say, “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.”
New Jersey senator and 2020 Democratic candidate Cory Booker responded to the remarks in a statement saying, “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. … [H]e is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together.” Booker has called for Biden to apologize. This is Biden responding.
Reporter: “Are you going to apologize, like Cory Booker has called for?”
Joe Biden: “Apologize for what?”
Reporter: “Cory Booker has called for it. He’s asking you to apologize.”
Joe Biden: “Cory should apologize. He knows better. There’s not a racist bone in my body. I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career, period, period, period.”
Senator Booker was not the only presidential candidate to call out Joe Biden. California Senator Kamala Harris accused Biden of “coddling the reputations of segregationists.” Senators Warren and Sanders and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also condemned Biden’s remarks.