Biden apologizes for comments on segregationist Democrats after criticism

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to students at a local cafe Thursday

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to students at a local cafe Thursday

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Sunday he chose SC to deliver an apology for his controversial remarks about segregationist senators because he wanted to offer it to an audience most likely to have been offended by his words.

"Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to folks that I was praising those people who I opposed time and again?"

"I regret it and I'm sorry for any of the pain or misconception they may have caused anybody", Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, said during a campaign event in SC.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who'd demanded an apology from Biden for his mid-June comments, said he felt "a sense of gratitude" that the former vice president was willing to admit fault. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., highlighted race during the first round of Democratic primary debates - pointing to his comments about segregationist senators and his position on federally mandated busing.

Without naming Harris, Biden on Saturday referenced what he characterized as expected attacks from other campaigns eager to take him on. I hope not, I don't think so. "He's the bully that I've always stood up to", he said.

The criticism of Biden began last month after he recalled how, as a young senator from DE, he worked on some issues with two Southern Democratic segregationists in the U.S. Senate even though they agreed on little, offering that period as an example of a long-ago time of civility and himself as a consensus-seeker. As the state is a test of black support, both Biden and Harris as well as other Democrats have been addressing African American issues during campaign visits to the state.

"I was really surprised Biden wasn't prepared for some of those attacks". It's a competition to become President of the United States.

Biden has also pledged to support the party's eventual leader who will be anointed at the Democratic National Convention next July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Ahead of his SC stops, Biden's campaign said he planned to say his lengthy public service career "will be weaponized against him by opposition researchers", would pledge to "take on those attacks directly" and would not allow his record "to be distorted and mischaracterized". The bill "worked in some areas but it failed in some others", including that it led to mass incarceration of people of color, he said.

Ms. Harris and Mr. Biden have also been at odds over Mr. Biden's past positions on busing to desegregate schools.

"I do not find it useful to relitigate issues from 1950 or 50 years ago or 25 years ago", Kimpson said.

"I'm not beholden to banks".

"If any comments I made were taken in a way that people took offense from them, then I am truly sorry for that".

Front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination since officially entering the race, Biden's support has sagged in some opinion polls, thwarting an effort to breeze through the primary season and focus on a general election campaign against President Donald Trump.

"There's still mandatory busing that exists today", Harris said. Biden told CNN in an interview aired on Friday that he "wasn't prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me" and noted that Harris knows him and his son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia, he added, was "one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys" but "at least there was some civility".

A RealClearPolitics compilation of recent national polls still shows Biden leading by about 10 percentage points over his nearest rivals, but his advantage has deteriorated steadily for the past two months.

-With assistance from Emma Kinery.

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