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CNN Panel Rips Biden for Defending States’ Rights, Using ‘I Have a Black Best Friend’ Argument By Name-Dropping Obama

In CNN’s post-debate analysis, panelists Nia-Malika Henderson and Van Jones both sharply criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for his performance, calling out his defense of local and states’ rights in his testy exchange with Senator Kamala Harris and his frequent mentions of President Barack Obama.

Speaking with Congressional Black Caucus chair and Biden advocate Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Henderson bored in on Biden’s attempt to downplay the consequences of the controversial anti-integration busing legislation he helped pass in the 1970s. The former Senator argued that his bill only prohibited a federally enforced policy of school desegregation, and that local city councils could make their own choice, which was a major fight of the civil rights’ movement.

“It just seems like this is going to put the Congressional Black Caucus in a very difficult position where you’re having to essentially defend somebody who presently is arguing for states’ rights,” Henderson pointed out. “These are positions that people like [Rep.] Jim Clyburn — I mean he marched against these sorts of issues in states like South Carolina where I’m from, for instance. I mean are you worried about members of the CBC — you’re of course one of the leaders of the CBC — carrying this mantle for Joe Biden if he’s continuing to defend states’ rights?”

“Well, look, I don’t think he was trying to defend states’ rights,” Richmond began, but Henderson was not having it.

“But he did. I mean that’s exactly what he did do.”

“Okay. In your opinion he tried to defend states’ rights,” Richmond responded, before offering up a classic spin room take. “I think what I saw was a person attempt to start to explain all of the nuances of that argument at the time and did not finish.”

Later on in the segment, Van Jones also expressed his shock that Biden effectively retreated into what was the segregationist argument against civil rights when Harris called him out onstage.

“If you had told me three hours ago that we would be sitting here trying to figure out how the Congressional Black Caucus can keep supporting Joe Biden, I would have said, on what planet is that? But that’s the planet that we’re on,” Jones said, clearly disappointed. “This is a bad night for Joe Biden. It’s a bad night for Democrats and I think it’s a bad night for his surrogates too, because there is this way in which Joe Biden is sort of using the ‘I have a black best friend’ argument by his continued invocation of Barack Obama. And I think he’s got to figure that out. This was a really bad night for him. I think it’s a bad night for his surrogates. You could see the look on Cedric Richmond’s face. He was very uncomfortable, almost pained, in having to sort of weave, you know, around this issue of what was clear.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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