Joe Biden scrambled Saturday to save his swiftly sinking campaign, finally apologizing for recent remarks in which he had positive words for segregationist Dems.
“Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men?” he said of his controversial June 18 statements.
“Yes, I was. I regret it. And I’m sorry for any of the pain or misconception I may have caused anybody.
The pleading tone persisted throughout the 32-minute speech in Sumter, SC.
“I chose to work within the system to make it better,” the former vice president said.
“Was I wrong to do that?” he asked. “I don’t think so … we have work to do even with those who we find repugnant.”
Biden also complained that his Democratic rivals have deliberately downplayed his years as vice-president.
“It’s funny — when I talk about the Obama years my opponents talk about, it’s ancient history,” he said. “When others talk about something I said in the ’70s, they talk about it’s like yesterday.”
The gaffe-prone Biden’s early lead has tumbled in the week since Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) attacked his civil-rights record during the June 27 debate. He has dropped six points in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
She took him to task after a speech in which he mentioned segregationist Sen. James Eastland, going on to imitate a Southern accent and claiming that the pol “never called me ‘boy,’” which is considered a derogatory term against black men.
On Saturday, Biden urged Democratic voters to take Barack Obama’s word on Biden—though the 44th president is yet to make an endorsement in the race.
“He selected me,” Biden said of Obama. “I’ll take his judgment of my record, my character and my ability to handle the job over anyone else’s.
“But should that misstep define 50 years of my record? I hope not,” he said, referencing his praise of Eastland.
Meanwhile, four of the party’s top presidential contenders — including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — wooed African-American women during featured speaking slots at the Essence Festival in New Orleans.
Bottom-of-the barrel candidate Mayor de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray crashed the event. Not originally scheduled to speak, he got just five minutes onstage in a spiel that was not even included in organizers’ webcast of the event.
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