WATCH: Joe Biden Talked Civility With Segregationists While Campaigning for Doug Jones
Former Vice President and current Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden spoke about his friendship and civility with segregationist former Senator James Eastland while campaigning for Doug Jones in 2017, even recalling how Eastland would call him “son” in a southern drawl.
Biden is under fire for recent comments in which he mused about the “civility” he once enjoyed with the likes of Eastland, remarks that were not caught on video. But Biden has hit on this theme before. For example, Biden name-checked Eastland and other segregationists in his farewell Senate speech in 2009, of whom he said, “I never thought I’d develop deep personal relationships with men whose position played an extremely large part in my desire to come to the Senate in the first place to change what they believed in.”
During that speech, he also imitated Eastland’s accent and spoke warmly of his friendship with late Senator Strom Thurmond, whom he considered a “changed” man at the time of his death.
There is also a video of Biden campaigning for now-Senator Doug Jones in Alabama, and making remarks that were very similar to the ones for which Biden now finds himself in hot water.
At an October 3, 2017 rally in Birmingham, Biden told a story about his 1978 reelection bid, and recounted — in a southern accent — how Eastand “never called me senator, he always called me son. He said son, come over here and sit down here.”
In the story, Eastland asked Biden how he could be of help to the reelection bid, and Biden said “Well some places you’d help, Mr. Chairman, and some places you’d hurt.”
“Well, I’ll come to Delaware and campaign for ya or against ya, whichever will help us out,” Biden said, imitating Eastland.
He then decried the current “mean-spirited” political environment, and told the crowd that when he joined the Senate, “the Democratic Party still had seven or eight old-fashioned Democratic segregationists. You’d get up and you’d argue like the devil with them. Then you’d go down and have lunch or dinner together. The political system worked. We were divided on issues, but the political system worked.”
“But today, today it is terrible,” he continued. “Today everything is a personal attack. You can’t reach consensus when you start off a discussion attacking the other person’s motive, you
can’t say you’re in the pocket of, or you are unethical, or you’re, it’s hard to get to know after that.”
Then, Biden told another story about infamously racist former Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) opposing the Americans with Disabilities Act. Biden said when he learned that Helms had previously adopted a disabled child, it taught him never to question the motives of the opposition.
“Folks, there’s a reason why every time there was a crisis on Capitol Hill, I’d get sent up,” Biden said, referring to his stint as President Barack Obama’s VP. “Because I never questioned the motives, as obvious as it may seem to me, of the opposition. They knew I respected them, and I, like hammer and tongs, disagreed on the issues, but we were able to get some things done. Because they trusted me.”
Watch the clip above, via YouTube.
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