Clyburn Defends Biden, Claims Black Dems Not Divided over Crime Bill

Joe Biden (Drew Angerer / Getty)
Drew Angerer / Getty

Ahead of a Sunday South Carolina poll that found former Vice President Joe Biden leading in the Palmetto State, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) claimed on Friday that black Democrats are not divided over former Vice President Joe Biden’s authorship of the 1994 crime bill.

“In 1994, I voted for the crime bill! What did we do? We took mandatory minimums off of first-time offenders. We put in $3 billion for prevention programs. We put 100,000 cops on the street,” Clyburn told NPR.

Clyburn will host his “World Famous Fish Fry” event in South Carolina on Friday that 22 presidential candidates are expected to attend, and the influential South Carolina lawmaker also claimed that black Democrats are not as divided over the crime bill as white Democrats.

“That’s exactly right. That is not real. Not with black people,” Clyburn said.

Wondering why the media are doubting whether Biden’s support among black voters will be enduring, Clyburn, the South Carolina kingmaker, added that older black Democrats are still excited about Biden’s candidacy and are not holding his authorship of the crime bill against him. A Black Economic Alliance poll of South Carolina found that black Democrats were most enthusiastic about Biden’s candidacy.

“They’re very excited about Joe Biden, most of them know what I just shared with you about the crime bill, but they don’t have a megaphone,” Clyburn said. “I mean y’all got all the print. Y’all write this stuff. All they can do is talk about it among themselves. That’s why Joe Biden is running 76% among them and so much doubt among y’all.”

The crime bill is likely to be a major point of contention in the presidential debates, and some of Biden’s rivals have already taken him to task over his unapologetic support for the legislation.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has said the crime bill contributed to “mass incarceration in our country” while Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has said “that bill was awful” and “shameful.”

And while Clyburn insisted black Democrats are not divided over the crime bill, younger black Democrats are likely to view the bill differently than older black Democrats.

Radio host Charlamagne tha God recently wondered to the Washington Post why “privileged old white men” like Biden get “passes all the time” on issues like support for the crime bill and racially insensitive remarks.

“Why when you were on the Senate floor, talking about the ’94 crime bill, you said you didn’t care about the conditions that created these super predators when the truth is, America created these conditions,” Charlamagne told the Post.

Even President Donald Trump recently piled on, saying someone like Biden who backed the crime bill has no chance of winning the White House in 2020.

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