Former Vice President Joe Biden is now sorry for the seemingly warm and fuzzy remarks he made several weeks ago about the time he spent as a young lawmaker working with southern segregationists in Congress in order to “get things done.”
“Now, was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again?” Biden — still under fire for his poor performance in the first round of Democratic primary debates last week — told a crowd in Sumter, South Carolina, on Saturday.
“Yes, I was,” he said.
“I regret it. I’m sorry for any of the pain and misconception I may have caused anybody,” he also said.
The New York Times took pains to explain the context for Biden’s apologetic comments: “The remarks came during Mr. Biden’s first public event of a weekend trip to South Carolina, a state with a heavily African-American Democratic electorate, where Mr. Obama is beloved.”
The outlet also noted, “It is a state [South Carolina] where Mr. Biden has enjoyed significant good will tied to this time in the Obama administration [as vice president]. And his visit comes amid recent scrutiny of his civil rights record and slipping national poll numbers following his first Democratic debate of the 2020 primary season and its heated exchanges over busing and race.”
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Biden also admitted he was not prepared during the recent debate for the attack on him by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who challenged his opposition to federally mandated busing from years ago.
“I was prepared for them to come after me,” Biden said during a recent interview on CNN’s “New Day” program, “but I wasn’t prepared for the person coming at me the way she came out … She knew Beau and knows me,” he added.
The former vice president insisted Harris took “out of context” his decades-old stance against federally imposed busing to desegregate schools. Harris described her own experience with busing as a child in California during a breakout moment in the debate.
“I can’t speak to why he [Biden] was or wasn’t prepared,” said Lily Adams, campaign communications director for Harris, told CNN this past Friday. “That’s for him and his team to decide and to explain. But what she was pointing out was a very real disagreement on the record.”
And Biden — back in April of this year — also felt forced to address in a video the allegations (and clear evidence, in some cases) that he’d engaged in numerous instances of unwanted touching of women over the years.
“Social norms have begun to change,” Biden said in that video. “They’ve shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset, and I get it, I get it.”
“I hear what they’re saying. I understand it. And I’ll be much more mindful ― that’s my responsibility. That’s my responsibility, and I’ll meet it.”
In early April, two more women — in addition to others before them — came forward to say that Biden had touched them, without their permission, in ways that made them uncomfortable. Caitlyn Caruso, 22, and D. J. Hill, 59, even shared their experiences with The New York Times.
Caruso claimed Biden rested his hand on her thigh during an event about sexual assault, of all things, at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Caruso was 19 at the time of the incident. She said she squirmed in her seat to try to show her discomfort and that Biden also hugged her “just a little bit too long.”
Hill, for her part, said that in 2012, when she was taking a photo with Biden, the then-vice president put his hand on her shoulder and moved it down her back — which made her “very uncomfortable.”
Both Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state lawmaker, and Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide to Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), also accused Biden of unwanted touching.
A spokesperson in early April said Biden over the years had “offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort.” “And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately,” Biden himself said. “If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully.”
This may seem like a lot of course corrections in a short time — but there are more.
Back in March of this year, Biden apologized for the way he treated Anita Hill more than 25 years ago during the Clarence Thomas hearings, which were televised to the nation. “She was abused through the hearing, she was taken advantage of, her reputation was attacked,” Biden said just a few months ago about those hearings.
“I wish I could have done something, and I opposed Clarence Thomas’ nomination — I voted against him,” said Biden.
Hill, a law professor, accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, charges he vehemently denied. She testified in 1991 before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the matter — which Biden, as a senator from Delaware at the time, led. After a brutal and highly partisan confirmation process, Thomas joined the Supreme Court as a justice.
And even though Hill recently spoke with Biden, she said she still could not support him in his 2020 bid to become president. “I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you,” Hill told The New York Times. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.”
As if all of this weren’t enough — there is still more to include on the “Joe Biden Apology Tour.”
Earlier this year, in January, the former vice president was forced to say he was sorry for having championed the 1994 crime law, as a piece in The Washington Examiner noted. “I haven’t always been right,” Biden said about his record on criminal justice.
All of this amounts to a lot of backing away, a lot of apologizing, a lot of “rethinking,” a lot of regrets — and it’s only July 2019.
“At the time, the legislation was viewed as a bipartisan effort, and an attempt by Democrats to combat the image of the party as being soft on crime. Subsequently, liberals have argued that it played a key role in ushering in an era of mass incarceration,” noted that outlet.
And, in February of this year, Biden had to back away from comments he made about Vice President Mike Pence being a “decent guy.”
Why? Because Cynthia Nixon, the actress-turned-politician in New York who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year, attacked Biden on Twitter, citing Pence’s stances on LGBT rights, as The Examiner also noted.
This list does not claim to be exhaustive. Even so, all of this amounts to a lot of backing away, a lot of apologizing, a lot of “rethinking,” a lot of regrets — and it’s only July 2019.
The November 2020 election is well over a year away at this point.
So what exactly is Biden running on again in his bid for the White House?