Booker goes after Biden, saying he owes ‘immediate apology’ for praising segregationist senators

Posted Jun 19, 2019

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker took a shot at Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden on Wednesday, saying the former vice president owes “an immediate apology for the pain” he caused by praising two segregationist senators.

Booker’s comments came after Biden cited his relationships with former U.S. Sens. James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, two ardent segregationists, as evidence of his ability to work with lawmakers even if he didn’t agree with their positions.

“Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone,” Booker, D-N.J., said in a statement.

"I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should.”

At a fundraiser Tuesday, Biden cited his relationships with the two men, who fought against civil rights, as examples of the civility missing from today’s politics.

“We didn’t agree on much of anything," Biden said in New York City, according to pool reports. "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.”

In his comments, Biden said of Eastland, “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’” He described Talmadge as “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”

Booker took offense at those remarks.

“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys,'” Booker said. "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.“

Biden is leading in the polls for the Democratic presidential nomination, with 32 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll average. Booker is in seventh place with 2.3 percent.

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