Former Vice President Joe Biden issued an apology Saturday afternoon for recently recalling good relationships he shared with segregationists during his time in the Senate.
“Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again,” Biden rhetorically asked. “Yes, I was, I regret it. I’m sorry for the pain and misconception I may have caused anybody.” He is among several Democrats running for president in 2020.
“But should that misstep define 50 years of my record for fighting for civil rights, racial justice in this country? I hope not,” Biden added.
Biden appeared to praise segregationist lawmakers former Democratic Sens. James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, describing them as examples of “civility” during a New York City fundraiser in June.
Several 2020 presidential candidates criticized the former vice president’s comments. New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio called Biden “out of touch,” and Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called on Biden to apologize. Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris excoriated Biden’s record during the June primary debate.
Critics dinged Biden and other Democratic candidates recently for apologizing too much. One of the prerequisites for running is the need to go on an apology tour, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in March. He gave Biden and former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke as examples of politicians willing to prostrate themselves.
“Joe Biden went out and apologized for being male, over 50, white, and he apologized for the one good piece of legislation that is an anti-crime bill,” Bloomberg told reporters at the time, referring to a crime bill Biden helped pass in the 1990s.
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