- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2019

Democratic presidential front-runner Joseph R. Biden heads to South Carolina this weekend amid an uproar over his racially insensitive gaffes, but his defenders said he is shielded by his longtime association with President Obama.

Mr. Obama did not rush to defend his former vice president for fondly reminiscing about segregationist colleagues in the Senate, joking about the racial epithet “boy,” or attempting to put Sen. Cory A. Booker of New Jersey in his place.

Mr. Obama didn’t have to because their association remained fresh in the minds of Democratic voters, nurtured by the Democratic Party establishment and its Hollywood allies.

“He sat for eight years with a black guy. Did he have a noose in the background? Come on!” “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg said on the daytime talk show.

In South Carolina, a crucial primary state where black voters made up 60% of the Democratic primary electorate in 2016, voters didn’t appear ready to buck Mr. Biden from his commanding lead in the race.

“Overall, this isn’t a game changer for people,” said Kenneth Glover, chairman of the Democratic Party in Orangeburg County, South Carolina.

He said voters in the state were swayed by state’s Democratic Party leaders, including House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, who vouched for Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden and almost all of the Democratic presidential hopefuls will be in South Carolina this weekend for the state Democratic Party convention. They also will attend Mr. Clyburn’s annual “World Famous Fish Fry,” which is a can’t-miss stop on the campaign trail.

South Carolina holds the first primary in the South on Feb. 29.

The Biden campaign attempted to demonstrate that he hadn’t lost momentum in the state by rolling out a list of endorsements Thursday from mayors or former mayors of 11 South Carolina cities.

Mr. Biden needed defending after a fundraiser Tuesday in New York where he reminisced about his camaraderie with the late Sens. James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, two staunch segregationists.

Mr. Biden said their cordial relationship exemplified a more “civil” era in U.S. politics.

He also mimicked a Southern drawl to joke that Eastland “never called me boy, he always called me son.”

The missteps continued when he rebuked Mr. Booker for demanding an apology. Mr. Biden said Mr. Booker “should know better” and should be the one apologizing.

Mr. Glover said the condescending treatment of Mr. Booker raised eyebrows among black Democratic voters, more so than the remark about the segregationists.

“It is something he shouldn’t have said and he shouldn’t have asked for Sen. Booker to apologize. They think that was a second mistake,” he said.

Mr. Booker lamented Mr. Biden’s tone.

“For his posture to be to me, I’ve done nothing wrong, you should apologize, I’m not a racist, is so insulting and so missing the larger point that he should not have to have explained to him,” Mr. Booker said on CNN. “This should not be a lesson that someone who’s running for president of the United States should have to be given.”

Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, tried to put the episode to rest.

“The vice president has immense respect for Sen. Cory Booker. It is not on anyone to say how Sen. Booker should or should not feel. He is entitled to his own feelings and his own thoughts, as is everyone else,” she said in a separate interview on CNN.

Ms. Sanders cautioned against letting the campaign rhetoric among Democrats get out of hand. “Nobody wins in a family feud,” she said.

On Wednesday, most of Mr. Biden’s Democratic rivals scolded him for his remarks or called for an apology. On Thursday, they kept mum about it.

The issue likely will resurface next week at the first Democratic presidential primary debate in Miami.

So far, the harshest criticism of Mr. Biden has emanated from the party’s far-left wing, where the gaffes reinforced the belief that he is too moderate, too entrenched in the establishment and out of step with today’s political culture.

“For the record, Cory Booker does not owe Joe Biden an apology for pointing out that waxing nostalgic about working with segregationists is insensitive,” tweeted far-left champion Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. “‘He knows better?’ Really? What is ‘better?’ To stay quiet about it?”

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