Joe Biden is still trying to recover from his disastrous debate last night. Spokespeople are on every network possible, explaining the former Vice President’s stances on race, bussing and interrogation. However, this is far from the first time Biden has stepped in it when it comes to race. Let’s go back to 2007, long before trending topics hashtags, Biden called then presidential candidate Barack Obama “articulate” and “clean.”
Biden famously said in the New York Observer, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
Backlash ensued and he eventually released a statement that read, “I deeply regret any offense my remark in the New York Observer might have caused anyone. That was not my intent and I expressed that to Sen. Obama.”
But then on a conference call, Biden pulled the “taken out of context” line, saying, “Barack Obama is probably the most exciting candidate that the Democratic or Republican Party has produced at least since I’ve been around. And he’s fresh. He’s new. He’s smart. He’s insightful. And I really regret that some have taken totally out of context my use of the world ‘clean.’”
He then referenced his mother, “My mother has an expression: clean as a whistle, sharp as a tack.”
Obama responded to the then controversy by saying, “He called me, I told him it wasn’t necessary. We have got more important things to worry about. We have got Iraq. We have got health care. We have got energy. This is low on the list. He was very gracious and I have no problem with Joe Biden.”
The “taken out of context” line may not work in 2019. In case you missed, last night Sen. Kamala Harris said on the debate stage, “I do not believe you are a racist. But she said his words were “hurtful,” especially his praise of working with the late Mississippi Sen. James O. Eastland, a Democrat who made no secret that he was in favor of segregation, and Georgia Sen. Herman Talmadge, and how he opposed bussing students.
Biden tried to argued Harris’ comment was a “mischaracterization,” but fell short trying to explain himself.
With that said, Biden’s support among Black voters has remained very high. A poll released earlier this month and conducted by the Black Economic Alliance found that African American voters were most “enthusiastic” about Biden’s candidacy compared to the other Democratic White House hopefuls.
We will see if the polls change after last night’s debate.