Former vice president Joe Biden Tuesday at a fundraiser in New York fondly recalled his time in the Senate when he worked with two, now deceased, Democratic senators who were known for their support of racial segregation in the South during the days of Jim Crow.
Just moments after Biden excoriated President Trump over press conference remarks Trump made about the Charlottesville riots, a routine piece of Biden’s stump speech, he talked about his personal relationship with staunch segregationists Mississippi Democratic Sen. James Eastland and Georgia Democratic Sen. Herman Talmudge.
“Barack and I decided we were going to give him plenty of chance to set up his government, not be critical the first year of him running because we knew, and I’m not being a wise guy, he didn’t think he was going to win, he wasn’t prepared for that, he didn’t even have a team put together, we wanted to give him time, for real, we didn’t have high expectations but we wanted to give him time,” Biden said. “The fact of the matter is that I couldn’t remain silent when I saw what happened in Charlottesville.”
“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys’…”
At a previous fundraiser in Manhattan on Monday, Biden slammed Trump, saying that the president made a “moral equivalency between those who were peddling hate and evil, white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan, Nazis, neo-Nazis, and said they were very fine people in both groups.”
Biden then criticized the “New Left” who call him “old-fashioned” for wanting to reach a “consensus in our system.” He added, “It encourages and demands the abuse of power by a president.” At this point, Biden brought up his time in the Senate with Eastland and Talmudge.
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Mr. Biden said, briefly channeling the late Mississippi senator’s Southern drawl. Mr. Biden said of Mr. Eastland, “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”
Biden then taked about the Georgia senator, saying, “a guy like Herman Talmadge, one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys,” he said. “
He added, “Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. 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.”
Biden was blasted, however, by his Democratic opponents for his remarks about Talmudge and Eastland.
“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys,’” New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker said in a statement to The New York Times. “I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should.”
Vermont Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders called for Biden to apologize.
I agree with Cory Booker. This is especially true at a time when the Trump administration is trying to divide us up with its racist appeals. https://t.co/VyVcG6srQM
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 19, 2019
California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris said she thought Biden’s comments were disturbing.
“If those men had their way, I wouldn’t be in the United States Senate and on this elevator right now,” she said to ABC News, referring to Eastland and Talmudge.