White House hopeful, Joe Biden, is facing severe criticism from fellow Democrats, Republicans, and even some members of his own campaign after making comments about his previous work with racist lawmakers.
On Tuesday evening, the former vice president was speaking at a fundraiser, during which he commented on working with a specific senator in the past who was a known segregationist. Biden said that the former Senator James O. Eastland “never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’” The remark was part of Biden’s speech and was meant to be proof that Biden knows how to bring people and a nation together.
Symone Sanders, a senior advisor to Biden, says that his message is getting lost because of how he said it. She tweeted on Wednesday that “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.”
However, many did not take it as such.
Instead, they saw it as a racial slur and in support of segregation within the government.
The remarks, no matter how they were intended, have given many Democrats in support of Biden pause and concerns about his values.
Democratic Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey has insisted that Biden apologizes for his remarks. Booker, whose family was discriminated against when they moved into a primarily white neighborhood in New Jersey, is also running for president.
Kamala D. Harris, a Democratic Senator from California, who is also running, stated Wednesday that she was “deeply” concerned by the comments. “If those men had their way, I wouldn’t be in the United States Senate and on this elevator right now,” she told reporters at the Capitol.
Many thought Wednesday would come with an apology from Biden. However, he did no such thing and even went so far as to say, “Apologize for what? 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.” He says, “They know better.”
Donna Brazile, the first African American woman to run a presidential campaign and did so for Al Gore in 2000, stated, “I am trying to figure out if I am more outraged or simply disappointed. He should apologize.”
And she isn’t the only one who is upset over his refusal to apologize. Booker claims that it is “really problematic” that Biden should ask him to apologize. “The fact that he has said something that an African American man could find very offensive and then to turn around and say, you know, ‘I’m not racist, you should apologize to me’… is so insulting and so missing the larger point that he should not have to have explained to him,” Booker went on to say.
He also added, “I know Joe Biden. He’s better than this.” This confirms that many are more disappointed in Biden’s actions than they are angry.
However, Biden has had some supporters over the issue on both party sides.
Republican Senator Lindsey O. Graham from South Carolina says “Let me say this about Joe Biden. He has consistently crossed the aisle to try to find solutions to problems, working with people he disagreed with. He should be proud of that. Don’t run away from it.”
And Democratic Representative Cedric L. Richmond from Louisiana has stated, “Look, he is the front-runner, he probably didn’t say it in the most articulate manner, but I think the sentiment is something that we all know in the legislative body – that you work with people you don’t agree with.” Richmond is the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and current co-chairman of Biden’s campaign.