Vice President Joe Biden defended working with segregationists during his time in the Senate, after getting criticized by fellow 2020 Democrats for using it as an example.
“We had to put up with the likes of like Jim Eastland and Hermy Talmadge and all those segregationists and all of that,” he said. “And the fact of the matter is that we were able to do it because we were able to win — we were able to beat them on everything they stood for.”
Biden commented on the issue during a fundraiser in Maryland on Thursday, after Sen. Cory Booker openly criticized the former vice president.
Biden reminded his supporters at the fundraiser that he and Ted Kennedy worked together.
“We in fact detested what they stood for in terms of segregation and all the rest,” he said, noting they expanded the Voting Rights Act for 25 years.
The uproar started after Biden recalled on Tuesday he was friends with Eastland and Talmadge — two Democrat senators from the South who supported segregation.
“At least there was some civility,” he said. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished.”
Booker issued a statement on Wednesday condemning Biden’s remarks.
Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone. I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together.
Biden refused to apologize, telling reporters Booker should be the one to apologize.
“Cory should apologize. He knows better,” Biden said. “There’s not a racist bone in my body. I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career, period, period, period.”