Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden apologized Friday afternoon for saying that black Americans who would consider voting against him aren’t really black.
On a call with the business group U.S. Black Chambers, Biden admitted his comment earlier in the day was “too cavalier” and promised he would not take black support for granted. He also said he regretted being “such a wise guy.”
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Biden got himself into trouble Friday morning during an interview on the radio show The Breakfast Club, when he told host Charlamagne tha God that black people had to vote for him against President Donald Trump.
“Listen,” Biden told Charlamagne, “if you got a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Biden promised Charlamagne he was vetting multiple black women to be his running mate and pointed to his record as evidence he was the only choice for black voters.
Charlamagne said that reasoning was “kinda crazy,” and many other black public figures and politicians also criticized Biden, including NAACP president Derrick Johnson.
“You cannot take the African-American vote for granted,” Johnson said in an interview with CBS News, adding that Biden should be mindful of the message he sends black voters.
Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.) excoriated Biden shortly after the interview, arguing that Biden told over a million Trump voters who are black that they are not in fact “black.” He also said it is “sadly par for the course for Democrats to take the black community for granted and brow beat those that don’t agree.”
1.3 million black Americans already voted for Trump in 2016. This morning, Joe Biden told every single one of us we “ain’t black.” I’d say I’m surprised, but it’s sadly par for the course for Democrats to take the black community for granted and brow beat those that don’t agree.
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) May 22, 2020
Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs, who warned Biden in April not to take the black vote for granted, lashed out at Biden in a tweet, saying, “I already told you the #BlackVoteAintFree.”
— Diddy (@Diddy) May 22, 2020
Al Sharpton, host of Politics Nation on MSNBC, also criticized Biden.
“Whether you say it in jest or not, no one should qualify who’s going to be black,” he said. “I think that is inappropriate.”
Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders tweeted that Biden’s comments were meant to draw a comparison between his support in the black community and President Trump’s lack of support.
“The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period,” Sanders said.
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