Former Vice President Joe Biden defended his record on race to Charlamagne Tha God on the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club” on Friday, at one point telling the host that if you support President Trump “then you ain’t black.”
An aide tried to cut off the interview after 11 minutes because Jill Biden needed the office to do her own livestreamed event, but Biden agreed to stay on longer.
After 18 minutes, the aide interjected again, leading Charlamagne to say jokingly: “You can’t do that to black media.”
“I do that to white media and black media because my wife has to go on at 6 o’clock,” Biden said, looking at his watch: “Uh oh. I’m in trouble.”
“Listen, you’ve got to come see us when you come to New York, V.P. Biden,” Charlamagne said. “It’s a long way until November. 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.”
Charlamagne responded by saying “it has nothing to do with Trump,” but that rather “I want something for my community.”
“Take a look at my record man,” Biden responded. “I extended the Voting Rights Act 25 years. I have a record that is second to none. The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run. Come on, take a look at my record.”
Charlamagne’s radio show was a popular stop for Democratic presidential contenders during the primary. But some Democrats, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have run into trouble there under heated questioning from Charlamagne about their records on race.
Biden was appearing for the first time on the show, and the interview was at times contentious and awkward, although they appeared to leave on good terms.
Charlamagne opened by telling Biden, “I’ve been critical of you.”
“I know you have,” Biden shot back. “You don’t know me.”
At one point, Charlamagne asked Biden to explain why he supports decriminalizing marijuana but not legalizing it.
“They’re trying to figure out if it affects long-term development of the brain, and we should wait until the studies are done,” Biden said. “Science matters.”
“I think we got decades and decades and decades from actual weed smokers though,” Charlamagne responded.
“Yeah I do, I know a lot of weed smokers,” Biden said, laughing.
Charlamagne challenged Biden to explain his support for crime bills in the 1980s and 1990s that critics have said led to mass incarceration of black people.
He noted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had come on his show and apologized for her past support of the bills and said that part of why she ran for president was to atone for that.
“She was wrong,” Biden said. “It wasn’t the crime bill, it was the drug legislation, the institution of mandatory minimums, which I opposed.”
Biden repeatedly returned to polls showing him with huge support among black voters and pointed to the Democratic primary, when black voters rallied behind his candidacy to deliver him big victories across the country to help him sew up the nomination at an early stage.
“I won a larger share of the black vote than anyone has, including Barack,” Biden said, referring to former President Obama.
“They’re the folks, as they say, brung me to the dance … come on man, give me a little break here.”
The GOP super PAC America Rising circulated the clip, and the exchange blew up in conservative social media.
“White liberal elitists have continuously dictated which black Americans are allowed to come to the table and have a voice,” said Kartrina Pierson, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign and leader of its Black Voices for Trump group.
“It is clear now more than ever, following these racist and dehumanizing remarks, that Joe Biden believes black men and women are incapable of being independent or free thinking. He truly believes that he, a 77-year-old white man, should dictate how black people should behave. Biden has a history of racial condescension and today he once again proved what a growing number of black Americans and I have always known — Joe Biden does not deserve our votes.”
Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the only black Republican in the Senate, also accused Biden of lecturing black people on how to vote and or questioning the racial authenticity of conservative black voters.
Symone Sanders, an adviser to the Biden campaign, defended the former vice president’s remarks.
“Vice President Biden spent his career fighting alongside and for the African American community. He won his party’s nomination by earning every vote and meeting people where they are and that’s exactly what he intends to do this November,” she said in a tweet.
“The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period,” she added.