Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Tuesday touted his standing among black voters, where he’s gotten solid support thus far in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
“People know me, or at least they think they know me, after all this time. They have a sense of who my character is and who I am — warts and all,” he told a group of black journalists.
Mr. Biden made the case that black voters are more moderate - notably those who make up a good deal of the Democratic electorate in southern states.
“I have never, ever, ever, in my entire life, had a circumstance where I have felt uncomfortable in the black community,” he said, saying that’s not true of all liberals.
“There are assumptions made about the black community that I don’t think are accurate,” he said. “That’s partly because they haven’t spent much time in the black community.”
He did say his standing among black voters could change.
“You can go back and look: When Barack clobbered me in the campaign, you know, I had more black support in South Carolina than anybody, including him,” he said. “I got blown out in Iowa, and all of a sudden everything changed. Same thing could happen.”
Mr. Biden also knocked President Trump’s record on race relations, while saying racism in America is a “white man’s problem visited on people of color.”
“White folks are the reason we have institutional racism,” Biden said. “There has always been racism in America. White supremacists have always existed. They still exist.”
On racism in America, he said there were “three categories” of white people.
“There are those who are flat-out just prejudiced, who are supremacists of some degree. There are some who are agnostic and don’t give a damn about it and just go, and there’s folks who want us to do something about it,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden also said his running mate would preferably be “someone who was of color and/or a different gender,” but that he wasn’t ready to definitively make that commitment.
He said the black community supported a 1994 crime bill he had championed while in the U.S. Senate, though critics now blame the law for mass incarceration of people of color.
Mr. Biden also said he was wrong to invoke his work with segregationist senators as an example of working with people you might disagree with - comments for which he was criticized by rivals like Sen. Cory Booker.
“I’m not using those examples anymore,” he said.