SPARTANBURG, South Carolina — Former vice president Joe Biden began his address to a town hall meeting on Wednesday afternoon by paying homage to the late Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-SC) — a segregationist who later changed his views.
Hollings began his career opposing integration, and was noted for raising the Confederate flag above the South Carolina State Capitol when he was governor. He later dropped his opposition to integration.
As Breitbart News noted at the time:
Hollings, who passed away earlier this year, served in the U.S. Senate from 1966 to 2006. Prior to joining Congress, he was governor of South Carolina from 1959 to 1963, an office he originally sought on the basis of his opposition to the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which struck down segregation in public schools. Hollings kept that stance for the early portion of his term, but eventually changed course and supported integration. It has been noted, though, that full desegregation of South Carolina’s public schools did not occur until after he left the governorship.
In the Senate, Hollings cut a moderate to liberal profile by championing a national hunger policy and working to rein in the deficit. During his tenure, Hollings’ views on race appeared to grow and develop ,as exhibited by his endorsement of Jesse Jackson in the 1988 presidential race.
Biden came under withering criticism from rival candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at the first primary debate in June, who said that “it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.” Biden later apologized, though critics — including Barack Obama’s former political adviser, David Axelrod — said that his apology came too late.
Addressing a crowd of about 300 supporters, speaking softly and somberly — and sometimes haltingly — Biden described the 2020 presidential election as a “battle for the soul of our nation.”
Biden claimed, again — falsely — that President Donald Trump referred to neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 as “very fine people.” Biden told the audience that Trump’s words on that occasion had “stunned the nation and, frankly, shocked the world.” (Trump actually said that the neo-Nazis and white nationalists “should be condemned totally” — a fact that Breitbart News pointed out to Biden at the Iowa State Fair last month, apparently to no avail.) He also quoted Trump as warning against a “Hispanic ‘invasion'” of the U.S. — “or words to that effect.” (Trump never used the term “Hispanic.”)
Biden predicted that President Donald Trump would give in to his “worst instincts” in the course of his re-election campaign, and predicted that the country would see more violent crimes against immigrants as a result.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.