Jun 30, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Cory Booker says Biden can't talk "honestly" about his past mistakes on race

2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker addressed his recent criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, arguing that Biden's "inability to talk candidly" about mistakes in his voting record makes it difficult to see him uniting the country as the Democratic nominee.

"A lot of Democrats that were involved with the 1994 crime bill have spoken very openly with vulnerability, talking about their mistakes. So that doesn't disqualify you. But what we've seen from the vice president over the last month is an inability to talk candidly about the mistakes he made, about things he could have done better, about how some of the decisions he made at the time in difficult context actually have resulted in really bad outcomes.
And this is a bad culture where you can't admit mistakes, where you can't speak to your vulnerabilities and your imperfections. We all have them, but when it comes to difficult issues with race, if you can't talk openly and honestly about your own development on these issues, I think it's very hard to lead our country forward so that we actually can deal with our past and rise to a better common cause and common future."

Why it matters: Booker's comments reflect a broader criticism of Biden's weaknesses as a candidate, which go beyond the recent missteps on race that Sen. Kamala Harris targeted in last week's viral debate exchange.

  • Whether it's his treatment of Anita Hill in Justice Clarence Thomas' 1991 confirmation hearing or the allegations of inappropriate touching that threatened to derail his campaign early on, Biden's reluctance to unequivocally apologize for past mistakes has been a source of significant criticism.
  • Biden's decades-long public record has and will continue to leave him vulnerable to attacks from within a Democratic Party that has moved significantly to the left since he was first elected to the Senate in 1972.

Go deeper: Biden's race backlash

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