Biden, appearing before a mostly black crowd in South Carolina, expressed regret Saturday for citing his work with segregationists Mississippi Sen. James Eastland and Georgia Sen. Herman Talmadge as an example of his ability to work with others despite differences.
“Now was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was,” said Biden, who was a senator representing Delaware from 1979 to 2009. “I regret it. I’m sorry for any of the pain or misconception that I caused anybody.”
Biden also made allusions to a moment in the Democratic debates last month where California senator and fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris challenged him for the segregationist comments.
“I’m going to let my record stand for itself and not be distorted or smeared,” he said, not directly referencing Harris.
He also cited his time working with President Barack Obama and disagreements they had over issues such as the “three-strikes” sentencing policy.
“I’m flawed and imperfect like everyone else. I’ve made the best decision that I could at the moment they had to be made,” he said. If the choice is between doing nothing and acting. I’ve chosen to act.”
President Donald Trump responded to Biden’s apology on Twitter on Sunday after having previously called him a “reclamation project” the day before.
“Sleepy Joe Biden just admitted he worked with segregationists and separately has already been very plain about the fact that he will be substantially raising everyone’s taxes if he becomes president,” Trump wrote. “Ridiculously, all Democrats want to substantially raise taxes!”