Jun 23, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Booker: Biden "invoked terrible power dynamic" with reference to term "boy"

In an interview on ABC's "This Week," 2020 candidate Sen. Cory Booker said former Vice President Joe Biden "showed a lack of understanding or insensitivity by invoking this idea that he was called 'son' by white segregationists," but added that the two had a "constructive conversation" in a phone call last week.

"I listened to the full totality of what he was talking about, and, frankly, I heard from many, many African-Americans who found the comments hurtful. Look, we make mistakes, we sometimes tread upon issues that maybe we aren't knowledgeable of. I don't think the vice president should need this lesson, but this was a time for him to be healing and to be helpful. Especially at a time when he is looking to bring this party together and lead us in what is the most important election of our lifetime."

Why it matters: Biden pushed back last week on Booker's criticism of his comments about working with segregationist Sens. James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, arguing that Booker should be the one to apologize. Biden later defended the remarks as being taken out of context, claiming that Talmadge and Eastland called white senators like Ted Kennedy "boy" as well.

The big picture: With the first round of Democratic debates coming up this week, the various controversies Biden has set off in recent weeks are sure to make him a target, especially as the party's frontrunner. Booker will not share a debate stage with Biden, but Sen. Bernie Sanders — who has also called on Biden to apologize — will on Thursday night.

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