- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sen. Cory A. Booker said he’s grateful former Vice President and 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joseph R. Biden apologized for his comments last month about segregationist senators, but said it shouldn’t have taken Mr. Biden more than two weeks to do so.

“I’m very grateful that he did the right thing,” Mr. Booker of New Jersey said Tuesday evening on CNN. “I’m sorry it took him 18 days and even more than this, it shouldn’t have taken him years to address the 1994 crime bill, and the fact that it was one of the things that supercharged mass incarceration in this country, that has many people still serving unjust sentences today.”

Mr. Booker had called on Mr. Biden to apologize for comments he made at a fundraiser last month in which he held out his past work with segregationist senators as an example of civility in politics and working with people you might disagree with.

Mr. Biden initially refused, saying Mr. Booker should be the one apologizing to him.

But he atoned over the weekend before a largely black audience in South Carolina, telling reporters later that he waited so long because it was the first opportunity to apologize in a “fulsome” way and that he wanted to do it in front of an audience of people most likely to have taken offense.

“So, the fact that he [is] suddenly now speaking to issues he should have spoken to either when they immediately happened like 18 days ago or 18 days before or larger issues like the crime bill, this is good. It’s healthy. I welcome that,” Mr. Booker said.

“But I think it’s just the beginning of the kind of conversation we need to be having in this country because these are real issues that have their legacy [in] really harmful things costing us billions of dollars incarcerating people and costing them their liberty — one of our most valued and cherished ideals,” he said.

On Saturday, Mr. Biden also said his history with a 1994 crime bill that has been criticized by Mr. Booker and others has been misrepresented.

He said the Democratic Party overwhelmingly supported it, but that he personally opposed stepped-up mandatory minimum sentences, new “three strikes” rules, and more funding for states to build prisons.

“Those aren’t excuses; just facts,” he said. “I supported the bill. I accept responsibility for what it got right, and I accept responsibility for what it got wrong.”

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