Biden’s comments came during an interview Friday morning on “The Breakfast Club,” a New York-based, nationally syndicated hip-hop morning show that developed over the course of the Democratic presidential primary into a popular pit stop where candidates could opine on the state of the race and outline their agendas for African Americans.
An aide to Biden attempted to cut the interview short, causing host Charlamagne tha God to protest, eventually wrapping up with: “You’ve got to come see us when you come to New York, VP Biden. It’s a long way until November.” The host added: “We’ve got more questions.”
“You’ve got more questions?” Biden replied. “Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
“It don’t have nothing to do with Trump,” Charlamagne responded. “It has to do with the fact I want something for my community.” But Biden launched into an enthusiastic defense of what he described as a career of public service devoted to advancing civil rights.
The backlash was swift, with Trump and his reelection campaign immediately seizing on the comments, which Biden apologized for later in the day.
On a campaign call with black business leaders, Biden said he had perhaps been “much too cavalier” in the interview and maintained that he did not mean to imply that he was taking black voters — who resurrected and carried his campaign to the finish line of the primary, and will be critical to his chances of victory in November — for granted.
Clyburn, a powerful figure in South Carolina politics whose late endorsement is considered a key turning point in Biden’s candidacy, suggested Tuesday his faith in Biden to deliver for black Americans hasn’t wavered.
He noted that Charlamagne, whoseSouth Carolina hometown as that of his late wife, aims “to push the buttons” of his interview subjects, “and he does that very well.”
“In this instance, Joe did not do as well as I had hoped in responding,” he said. “But I will say this: I go about my business every day comparing Joe Biden to the alternative, not the Almighty. He is not a perfect person. None of us are.”
Asked what his message to black voters offended by Biden’s comments would be, Clyburn invoked the same explanation he’d given when endorsing Biden in February.
“I think all of us know Joe Biden. I’ve said that. I know him. And he knows me. He knows the African American community very well. I’ve done a lot of stuff with Joe Biden over the years, and I would not have supported him if I did not think he was best suited to be the next president of the United States,” he argued. “It’s just that simple.”