Top Fundraiser Abandons Biden Over Praise for Segregationists

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 27: Sen. Kamala Harris (R) (D-CA) and former Vice President Joe Biden (L) speak as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) looks on during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida. A field of 20 Democratic presidential candidates was …
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A top fundraiser has abandoned Joe Biden’s presidential campaign over the former vice president’s praise of segregationists.

Tom McInerney, a San Francisco lawyer and top Democrat financier, told CNBC he cut ties with Biden’s campaign on June 20—two days after the candidate praised the “civility” of segregationists.

“I had actually let the campaign know I’d pulled back my support of Biden for now,” McInerney said. He added that Biden’s performance at the first Democrat presidential debate on Thursday did nothing to alleviate his concerns.

“I don’t think he did well last night,” he said.

McInerney, who raised more than $200,000 for Barack Obama’s successful 2008 campaign, is the first bundler to abandon Biden in the wake of his praise for the late-Sens. James Eastland (D-MS) and Herman Talmdage (D-GA) at a fundraiser this month.

“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden told donors with an exaggerated Southern drawl. “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”

“Well guess what?” the former vice president continued. “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. 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.”

Biden’s remarks quickly sparked backlash because both men were avowed segregationists who dedicated their careers to fighting civil rights and integration. Eastland, in particular, was known as the “voice of the white South” for his support of Jim Crow and propensity for referring to African Americans as “an inferior race.”

At the debate on Thursday, Biden faced renewed criticism for the “hurtful” nature of those remarks by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

“I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” Harris said, “but I also believe, and it’s personal, and it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senator who is built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

Biden responded by saying Harris was mischaracterizing his remarks and that he did “not praise racists”–a point widely debunked by fact checkers.

After the debate, Biden’s campaign was reportedly “freaking out” about his poor performance.

McInerney is not the first person to depart Biden’s campaign amid the controversy over segregationists. A top ad maker left only days after Biden’s praise for Eastland and Talmadge.

On Thursday, McInerney expressed doubt he would bethe last fundraiser to abandon Biden.

“I would imagine I’m not alone,” he said.


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