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Biden says his comments on segregationists were taken out of context

 Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with Al Sharpton during a television interview during the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22.
Al Sharpton and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden told MSNBC's Al Sharpton Saturday his comments on segregationist senators and race were taken out of context.

Driving the news: The former vice president has been criticized for citing 2 former Democratic colleagues — the white supremacist segregationists James Eastland and Herman Talmadge — as examples of how the Senate used to be more civil.

  • "I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland," Biden was widely reported to have said at a fundraiser. "He never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son.'"
  • "[H]erman Talmadge, one of the meanest guys I ever knew ... Well guess what? At least there was some civility," he said. "We got things done. We got it finished."

The big picture: Sharpton, a civil rights activist and Baptist minister who was a White House adviser in the Obama administration, interviewed Biden on the sidelines of the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention.

  • At the convention, Biden pledged that if elected he would repeal 2017 tax cuts "on day one" of his presidency and also $500 billion in tax loopholes, according to AP. He also said he wanted an $8,000 per child credit for child care, close tax loopholes on 2-year college tuition grants and touted a public option health insurance plan, per AP.

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