- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sidestepped the growing backlash against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s comments on segregation, instead calling the 2020 presidential candidate “authentic.”

“I think that authenticity is the most important characteristic that candidates have to convey to the American people,” she told reporters. “And Joe Biden is authentic.”

Mr. Biden, who served eight years as vice president to the country’s first black president, this week praised his ability to work with Democratic segregationists early in his career, and joked about calling back men “boys.” He used the comments as evidence that Capitol Hill used to be more civil, and people with differing ideologies could work together.

Mrs. Pelosi acknowledged that reasoning — but was eager not to get pressed into refereeing his comments.

“He considers certain things a resource, that he has worked across the aisle,” she said.  “That’s not what this election is about. This election is about how we connect to the American people, addressing their kitchen table issues.”

When asked if Mr. Biden damaged his relationship with black voters, the top ranking House Democrat said it wasn’t her place to make that call.

“Joe Biden seems to have tremendous support in the African American community, but its up to them to decide,” she said.  “It’s not for me to make a judgment on how they’re going to react to him.”

Other Democrats have cast judgment, with Sen. Cory Booker leading the way.

“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,” Mr. Booker wrote in a statement, calling for an apology.

Mr. Biden said he was the one owed an apology. He said his comments weren’t racist, but rather a demonstration of how lawmakers bridged differences. 

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