Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate, said Biden has an inability to talk candidly about the mistakes he made
Whoever our nominee is going to be, whoever the next president is going to be, really needs to be someone who can talk openly and honestly about race with vulnerability because none of us are perfect, but really call this country to common ground, to reconciliation, the New Jersey senator told NBCs Meet the Press.
Im not sure if Vice-President Biden is up to that task, given the way this last three weeks have played out, and frankly I know whoever is that nominee needs to be able to pull this country together because we need to reconcile.
Biden leads most national and state polls regarding the sizeable Democratic primary field. Booker performed strongly in the first debate this week and is at the rear of the leading pack. On Sunday he was answering a question about a contentious exchange between Biden and California senator Kamala Harris at the second debate in Miami.
Harris interjected during a discussion of race and policing, noting that as the only black candidate on the stage, she should be able to respond. The former prosecutor then focused on Biden, slamming his record on race.
Campaigning recently, Biden warmly recalled his working relationship with segregationist senators. Opponents pressed him to apologize, but he refused.
I do not believe you are a racist, Harris said on the debate stage, as she looked directly at President Barack Obamas second-in-command. But it is personal. And it was actually hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.
Harris also accused Biden who early in his long political career opposed the federally mandated bussing of students as a way to integrate schools of propping up policies that would have kept minority students like herself out of majority white districts.
There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day, Harris said. And that little girl was me.
Visibly upset, Biden said that is a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true.
Booker, who is also African American, told NBC Biden has an inability to talk candidly about the mistakes he made, about things he couldve done better, about how some of the decisions he made at the time in difficult context actually have resulted in really bad outcomes.
We have one destiny in this nation and right now the vice-president to me is not doing a good job at bringing folks together. In fact, and Ive heard this from people across the country, hes causing a lot of frustration and even pain with his words.
Another candidate, Julin Castro, also weighed in, when asked if he thought Harriss criticism was relevant.
Oh, of course, the former San Antonio mayor and US housing secretary told NBC. I think its relevant. I think the record of all of the candidates that are running, including Vice-President Bidens record, is relevant and his stance on busing is relevant as well.
What I took as his position being that he allowed local communities to make a decision, essentially relying on states rights, I think hes going to have to continue to explain how that was a good position. Because weve had a very painful history in this country of trying to desegregate communities.
That pain is still there in this country, and hes going to have to address that not only in the debate, but I think going forward.
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