Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg recently took heat for his comments on fellow candidate Cory Booker. During an interview with CBS’ Gayle King that was broadcast Friday, Bloomberg called Booker — an African American — “well-spoken,” which some suggested was offensive and patronizing to people of color due to its racist undertones.
After the blowback, Bloomberg apologized for the comment during a campaign event in Georgia, Politico reports.
“I probably shouldn’t have used the word, but I could just tell you he is a friend of mine. He is a Rhodes Scholar, which is much more impressive than my academic background. I envy him.”
Bloomberg’s comment echoed the way politicians addressed Barack Obama when he made his entrance into politics and eventually made his 2008 White House bid.
Bloomberg has previously faced accusations of racism due to his support of the aggressive stop and frisk policing tactic when he was New York City’s mayor. The policy disproportionately affected African American and Latino men, and CNN reports that it was arguably the most controversial stance Bloomberg supported during his stint as mayor. The 77-year-old later apologized for the tactic while speaking in front of the congregation of a majority-African American megachurch in Brooklyn, New York.
“…I can’t change history, however today I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong and I’m sorry,” he said.
Following Bloomberg’s recent comment, Booker shared a clip of a radio interview he participated in on the Signal Boost radio show on SiriusXM. Per The Hill, Booker said during the conversation that he was “taken aback” by the former New York City mayor’s comment.
“It’s sort of stunning at times that we are still revisiting these sort of tired tropes or the language we have out there that I don’t think folks understand. The fact that they don’t understand is problematic.”
Re: @MikeBloomberg's comments about diversity in the field & referring to @CoryBooker as "well spoken" Booker said he doesn't want to get into a "critique" of Bloomberg, but said "we’ve got to make sure we got a nominee that doesn’t have to have this stuff explained to them" pic.twitter.com/zZjDuzSQZd— Adam Brewster (@adam_brew) December 6, 2019
Booker went on to say that such comments are standard for the campaign trail, adding that many people say things they regret. The New Jersey Senator said he hopes Bloomberg has learned from his comment and suggested that the Democratic Party must understand that it needs “enthusiastic” black voters.
Bloomberg isn’t the first to face criticism from Booker for his approaches to African American issues. Booker previously slammed frontrunner Joe Biden for his comments on working with segregationist lawmakers. He also criticized rising Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg for his lack of support within the black community.