Baltimore Sun

Biden calls ‘ain’t black’ quip too ‘cavalier,’ expresses regret

- By Bill Barrow and Kat Stafford

ATLANTA — Joe Biden declared he “should not have been so cavalier” Friday when he told a prominent black radio host that African Americans who back President Donald Trump “ain’t black.”

The presumptiv­e Democratic presidenti­al nominee quickly moved to address the fallout from his remark. In a call with the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce, added to his initial public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.”

That was an acknowledg­ement of the stinging criticism he received in response to his comments, which he made on “The Breakfast Club,” a radio show popular with many in the black community.

The rebukes spanned from allies of Trump’s reelection campaign — anxious to go on offense after weeks of defending the president’s response to the coronaviru­s pandemic — to some black activists, who warned that Biden still must court black votes, even if African Americans do overwhelmi­ngly oppose the president.

“None of us can afford for the party or for this campaign to mess this election up, and comments like these are the kinds that frankly either make black voters feel like we’re not really valued and people don’t care if we show up or not,” said Alicia Garza, a Black Lives Matter co-founder and principal of Black Futures Lab.

Near the end of Biden’s appearance on the radio program, host Charlamagn­e Tha God, pressed him on reports that he is considerin­g Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is white, to be his vice presidenti­al running mate. The host told Biden black voters “saved your political life in the primaries” and “have things they want from you.”

Biden said that “I guarantee you there are multiple black women being considered. Multiple.”

A Biden aide then sought to end the interview, prompting the host to say, “You can’t do that to black media.”

Biden responded, “I do that to black media and white media” and said his wife needed to use the television studio.

He then added: “If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black.”

The comments came at a critical point in the presidenti­al campaign as Biden tries to revive the multiracia­l and multigener­ational coalition that twice elected Barack Obama, whom he served as vice president. He has already committed to picking a woman as his running mate and is considerin­g several African American contenders who could energize black voters.

But with black voters already opposed to Trump, Biden is also considerin­g candidates such as Klobuchar.

Trump’s campaign and his allies immediatel­y seized on Biden’s comments.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, a Trump supporter and the Senate’s sole black Republican, said he was “shocked and surprised” by Biden’s remarks.

“I thought to myself, as an African American, been black for 54 years, I was struck by the condescens­ion and the arrogance in his comments,” Scott said in a conference call quickly arranged by the Trump campaign.

Symone Sanders, a Biden senior adviser who is also black, said his comment in Friday’s interview was “made in jest.”

“Let’s be clear about what the VP was saying,” Sanders tweeted. “He was making the distinctio­n that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period.”

Biden encouraged listeners Friday to “take a look at my record,” citing his work as senator to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run,” he said. “Come on, take a look at my record.”

Black voters helped resurrect Biden’s campaign in this year’s primaries with a second place finish in the Nevada caucuses and a resounding win in the South Carolina primary after he’d started with embarrassi­ng finishes in overwhelmi­ngly white Iowa and New Hampshire.

 ?? EVAN VUCCI/AP ?? Joe Biden encouraged voters to “take a look at my record,” citing his work to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
EVAN VUCCI/AP Joe Biden encouraged voters to “take a look at my record,” citing his work to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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