Joe Biden is walking back comments he made about black voters who may be undecided between him and Donald Trump, saying he shouldn’t have been a “wise guy” in saying that these undecided voters “ain’t black” if they aren’t supporting him.
The former vice president and presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee made the controversial remarks during a radio interview on The Breakfast Club on Friday morning, responding to host Charlamagne Tha God when he said he still had more questions that he wanted Biden to clear up.
“You’ve got more questions?” Biden replied. “Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
The remarks drew controversy online, with many accusing Biden of making racially charged remarks and being demeaning to black voters. Those speaking out included NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, who said in an interview with CBS News that while Biden has high support among the African American community, he must work to continue earning their support. Johnson said that Biden will “either win or lose” depending on his support among this demographic.
Johnson did not explicitly ask for an apology, saying that Biden should take it as a lesson moving forward and make sure that his campaign does not take these voters for granted.
Biden later walked back the comments, saying on a call with black business leaders that his remark was “cavalier” and that he did not want them to think that he was taking black voters for granted. Biden said that he believes the choice will be clear for voters deciding between him and Trump.
“I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy. I shouldn’t have been so cavalier,” Biden said, via The Hill.
“I don’t take it for granted at all and no one should have to vote for any party based on their race, religion or background. There are African Americans who think Trump is worth voting for. I don’t think so and I’m prepared to put my record against his, that was the bottom line and it was really unfortunate, I shouldn’t have been so cavalier.”
Biden has enjoyed widespread support among black voters in early polling, including one poll this week that showed him with a more than 70-point lead over Trump with this key demographic. A Quinnipiac University poll released this week showed that Biden had the support of 81 percent of black voters compared to 3 percent for Trump.