Here's How Joe Biden Defended His Comment About Segregationist Senators

Posted: Jun 20, 2019 5:30 AM
Here's How Joe Biden Defended His Comment About Segregationist Senators

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Not only would Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden not apologize for his comments about segregationist senators on Wednesday, he seemed genuinely perplexed why they sparked such outrage to begin with.

When asked by a reporter whether he would apologize for the remarks, Biden’s response was, “apologize for what?”

Earlier in the day Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), also a presidential candidate, slammed the former vice president in a statement.

"You don't joke about calling black men 'boys.' 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 said. "Vice President Biden's relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America 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." 

Biden had named two senators from the South with whom he had worked in the 1970s-- Mississippi Sen. James Eastland and Georgia Sen. Herman Talmadge, when discussing incivility in politics. 

"I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son,'" Biden told donors during a fundraising event in New York.

"Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done," he said. "We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished."

Booker said he was “disappointed” that Biden didn’t immediately apologize for the comments and the “pain his words are dredging up for many Americans.”

Biden, however, said Booker's the one who should be apologizing: "He knows better."

"There’s not a racist bone in my body," he added. "I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career. Period. Period. Period."

Update: Booker responded, telling CNN's Don Lemon that Biden "shouldn't need this lesson."

"At a time when we have in the highest offices in the land, divisiveness, racial hatred, and bigotry being spewed, he should have the sensitivity to know that this is time I need to be an ally, I need to be a healer, I need to not engage in usage of words that harms folks," he continued. "This is deeply disappointing."