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Pelosi Defends Biden on Segregationist Controversy: ‘Authenticity’ is Most Important ‘And Joe Biden is Authentic’

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi defended former Vice President Joe Biden over his controversial remarks about a time when he maintained “civility” with segregationist senators, telling reporters that “authenticity” is the most important quality in a candidate, that “Joe Biden is authentic,” and that he “seems to have tremendous support in the African American community.”

At the Weekly Speaker’s Briefing Thursday morning, NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell asked Pelosi about the controversy, and its possible political effects.

O’Donnell referenced the “back and forth between Vice President Biden and some of the candidates,” and asked “Do you think that is helpful to the party to sort of fight that fight over who best represents the party when it comes to sensitivities about race, do you think that there are apologies owed, or should be extended, and is this helpful to the Democrats at this time?”

“I think that authenticity is the most important characteristic that candidates have to convey to the American people, and Joe Biden is authentic,” Pelosi replied. “He has lived his life, he considers certain things a resource, that he has worked across the aisle, that’s what he was saying.”

“That’s not what this election is about,” Pelosi added. “This election is about how we connect with the American people, addressing their kitchen table needs. For us to spend time on an
issue like this, which is important, but it’s not central to what the election is about, what the election is about is the financial stability and well-being of Americans working families.”

When another reporter asked Pelosi to weigh in on the remarks themselves, and noted that “especially African Americans have a problem with his rhetoric,” she grew impatient.

“I answered that question. That’s all I’m going to say about it,” Pelosi said, then delivered a lengthy response about “massive challenges to our democracy” before returning to the subject of Biden.

“Joe Biden seems to have tremendous support in the African American community,” Pelosi said, “but it’s for them to decide, it’s not for me to make a judgment as to how they’re going to react to him. That’s what elections are about.”

“Let’s see who connects with the American people,” Pelosi continued, adding “It’s not for us to say this is who we think should be the candidate for president, it’s for the people to decide. So we can have this discussion here all we want while the president is calling and attack on our elections a hoax, while the administration is shutting down the protections of clean air for our families, where that list goes on and on.”

“So I’m not going to go to that place, I’ve said what I’m going to say about it, and let them all debate it,” Pelosi concluded. “We’ll see that two nights next week, and I’m very excited about it because I think anyone of them would be a better president than the current occupant of the White House.”

Watch the clip above, via C-SPAN

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