Oh, please. Remember when he told a largely black audience in August 2012 that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would “put y’all back in chains”?
Afterward, Biden and Barack Obama claimed Biden meant it financially, but it didn’t convince fellow Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel. “Was he talking about slavery? You bet your ass he was,” Rangel told Perez Notes. “Was he using the vernacular? Yes, he was. Did he think it was cute? Yes, he did. Was it something stupid to say? You bet your life it was stupid.”
Well, maybe Biden learned a lesson from it. Just five months ago, though, race-baiting was still a Biden strategy:
“Well I tell you what,” Biden told Charlamagne Tha God, “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” Team Biden tried claiming later that it was a joke, but Charlamagne wasn’t laughing.
That moment stuck so much that it came up in last night’s town hall on ABC News. Joe Biden’s team clipped this exchange last night, but they left out the biting question that far preceded it, emphasis mine:
HUMPHREY: Many people believe that the true swing demographic in this election will be black voters under the age of 30. Not because they’ll be voting for Trump, but because they won’t vote at all. I myself have had this exact same conflict. So, my question for you then is, besides you ain’t black, what do you have to say to young black voters who see voting for you as further participation in a system that continually fails to not protect them?
Biden never did address that race-baiting quip, but later replied to another question that voters could rest assured that he was all about “trying to unify”:
If I'm elected president, you won't hear me race-baiting, you won't hear me dividing — you'll hear me trying to unify. pic.twitter.com/PNsBW8OQmX
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 16, 2020
But it’s the thing that’s motivated — my dad used to have an expression, for real. He said, “Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity,” everybody. And it was real. Everybody is.
And so, whether I’m a defeated candidate for president back teaching, or I’m elected president, it is a major element of everything that I’m about, because it reflects who we are as a nation. And it’s what makes us — this is — every single solitary generation, the dial has moved closer and closer and more and more to inclusion.
And we are a country that is a country of slaves who came here 400 years ago, indigenous people, and everyone else is an immigrant. And we’re a diverse country. Unless we are able to treat people equally, we’re — we’re just never going to meet our potential.
But I think the American people want to see that happen. I think they’re ready to see that happen. And I’ll tell you one thing. If I’m elected president, you will not hear my race-baiting and you’ll not hear me dividing you. I’m (inaudible) trying to unify. And unify with — bring people together.
That would be a nice change, but Biden’s long history with race-baiting attacks — some of which in his earlier career ran the other direction — doesn’t provide much of a basis for trust that he’d deliver.
And while Donald Trump was being asked again to denounce white supremacy again by Savannah Guthrie, what did George Stephanopoulos do to follow up on these points with Biden? Here are the follow-up questions Stephanopoulos asked in both instances:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Cedric? (CROSSTALK) I said did you hear what you needed to hear? …
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Vice President, if you lose, what will that say to you about where America is today?
Tough, George, mighty tough.