House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), a civil rights icon and the highest-ranking black lawmaker in Congress, said Tuesday that he “cringed” when he heard Joe Biden tell a black radio host that “you ain’t black” if you support President Trump.
“I cringed, no question about that,” Clyburn said during an appearance on ABC’s “The View” when co-host Whoopi Goldberg asked about Biden’s remark.
But Clyburn also defended the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
“In this instance, Joe did not do as well as I had hoped in responding, but I will say this: I go about my business every day comparing Joe Biden to the alternative — not the almighty,” Clyburn said.
“He is not a perfect person, none of us are, so my decision now is to determine who I feel should be the next president of the United States, and I do that by comparing the candidates to each other, not to the almighty,” he said.
As Goldberg continued to ask about the gaffe, Clyburn turned the tables on her.
“Look, he’s not a perfect person; all of us have misspoken. I am a great admirer of Whoopi Goldberg. I loved her for a long long time. I can remember a few times when she was a little bit skittish and apologized in her own way for saying things,” Clyburn said. “I do it all the time. We sometimes say things we do not really mean; they come out a little bit wrong, and that’s what happened here.”
But Clyburn said Biden “knows the African American community very well. I’ve done a lot of stuff for 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.”
Biden owes much to Clyburn. The civil rights leader endorsed Biden in South Carolina just for the primary there, and Biden won a significant majority of the black vote. That win became a turning point that quickly forced several rivals to drop out of the race, setting up a series of big wins on Super Tuesday.
Biden sat down last Friday for an online interview with Charlamagne tha God on his popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” at one point telling the host that if he supports Trump, “I’ll tell you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
In another twist, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People felt compelled to tell Biden that the organization has never endorsed him.
“Yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden made a comment about the NAACP’s endorsement,” Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement on Saturday. “We want to clarify that the NAACP is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office at any level.”
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