Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday emphatically defended his ties to the African American community — telling a popular black radio personality that he “ain’t black” if he was still weighing whether to support Biden or President Donald Trump in November’s general election.
The remarks from the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee came during an at-times contentious interview on “The Breakfast Club” that aired Friday morning, during which co-host Charlamagne tha God challenged Biden over his decadeslong record on racial issues and current contemplation of a black, female running mate.
“I’m not acknowledging anybody who is being considered, but I guarantee you, there are multiple black women being considered. Multiple,” Biden said of his search process for a vice presidential nominee.
It was then that an aide to the Biden campaign could be heard interjecting into the conversation, attempting to cut short the interview. “Thank you so much. That’s really our time. I apologize,” the aide said.
“You can’t do that to black media!” Charlamagne retored.
“I do that to white media and black media because my wife has to go on at 6 o’clock,” Biden shot back, apparently referring to a subsequent media appearance by Jill Biden, before adding: “Uh oh. I’m in trouble.”
“Listen, you’ve got to come see us when you come to New York, VP Biden,” Charlamagne said. “It’s a long way until November. We’ve got more questions.”
“You’ve got more questions?” Biden replied. “Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Charlamagne explained that “it don’t have nothing to do with Trump, it has to do with the fact [that] I want something for my community.” But Biden remained adamant in promoting what he described as a career of public service devoted to advancing civil rights.
“Take a look at my record, man! I extended the Voting Rights [Act] 25 years. I have a record that is second-to-none,” he said. “The NAACP’s endorsed me every time I’ve run. I mean, come on. Take a look at the record.”
During the Democratic presidential primary, “The Breakfast Club” developed into a popular pit stop for aspiring White House contenders, who sat for interviews on the New York-based nationally syndicated radio show and spoke candidly about the state of the race and their agenda for African Americans.
Like many other media outlets eschewed by the Biden campaign throughout the primary contest, the former vice president did not appear on the program until after vanquishing his rivals for the party’s nomination.
On Thursday, however, Biden faced an intent line of questioning from Charlamagne, who pressed him on his reluctance to concede that the 1994 crime bill “was damaging to the black community.”
As a U.S. senator from Delaware, Biden helped author and shepherd the far-reaching legislation through Congress. The crime bill has long been accused of disproportionately targeting marginalized communities and people of color.
Although the crime bill dogged Biden’s presidential candidacy in the early stages of the 2020 primary, he refused Thursday to apologize for it and even insisted that Hillary Clinton, the previous Democratic presidential nominee, should not have expressed regret over her support for the measure in 2016.
“She was wrong. What happened was, it wasn’t the crime bill. It was the drug legislation. It was the institution of mandatory minimums,” Biden said, pointing to other factors he claimed had produced levels of mass incarceration in the United States.
Biden also sought to respond to concerns among African Americans that Democratic politicians take their votes for granted by pointing to his overwhelming support in the black community, which was largely credited for contributing to his comeback primary victory.
“They’re the folks [who], as they say it my way, ‘Brung me to the dance.’ That’s how I get elected every single time,” he said, imploring Charlamagne: “Come on man, give me a little break here. This is where I come from.”