Joe Biden has tried to make “character” as much of an issue in the 2020 election as anything else–having argued that unlike Trump, he is a man of upstanding character.
But what kind of character must one have to praise a former leader in the Ku Klux Klan, as Joe Biden has on many occasions?
In fact, ten years ago today, Joe Biden praised Robert Byrd, the former Ku Klux Klan “Exalted Cyclops,” and referred to him as a “friend,” “mentor,” and “guide.”
Biden has a long history of being cozy with segregationists. In 2019, he invoked not one, but two segregationist Democrats (Senator James Eastland of Mississippi and Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia) he had good working relationships with during his time in the U.S. Senate. Several of his former primary rivals called him out for this.
“Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone,” said Cory Booker. Biden even demanded an apology from Booker for his comments on Juneteenth.
“It’s never OK to celebrate segregationists. Never,” said Elizabeth Warren.
Kamala Harris accused Biden of “coddl[ing] the reputations of segregationists.”
Biden’s praise of racist liberals goes back many years.
“I think the Democratic Party could stand a liberal George Wallace,” Biden said in 1975 of the then-governor of Alabama. “Someone who’s not afraid to stand up and offend people, someone who wouldn’t pander but would say what the American people know in their gut is right.” George Wallace was a known racist and segregationist, who, just twelve years prior, stood at the door of the University of Alabama in order to block two black students from enrolling.
Biden’s racial comments have come under scrutiny in recent years. In May he told The Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne tha God that African Americans who are thinking of voting for Trump “ain’t black.”
In June 2006 Biden quipped, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
If “character is on the ballot” in November, you won’t find it with Joe Biden.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis