House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said he “cringed” when he heard presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s controversial remarks “you ain’t black” regarding black voters unsure about whether to support him or President Trump.
“I cringed, no question about that,” Clyburn said during Tuesday’s appearance on ABC’s “The View” when asked about Biden’s remarks he made during a radio show last week. “I know [Charlamagne] very well and I know his job is to push the buttons and he does that very well. In this instance, Joe did not do as well as I had hoped in responding, but I will say this — I go about my business every day comparing Joe Biden to the alternative — not the almighty.”
Clyburn, a top Biden surrogate, defended the former Vice President saying he “is not a perfect person.”
“He is not a perfect person, none of us are, so my decision now is to determine who I feel should be the next president of the United States, and I do that by comparing the candidates to each other, not to the almighty,” he stated.
Last Friday, Biden in a contentious radio interview with “The Breakfast Club,” a radio show that caters primarily to a black audience responded to a question from Charlamagne Tha God saying that, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
The remark sparked an immediate firestorm on social media, with liberal activists and conservatives blasted the remarks as “racist” and offensive, and accused Biden of lecturing black people on how to voter while taking the black vote for granted.
He later addressed the controversy in a phone call with the African American community saying he “should not have been so cavalier” with his controversial remarks for insinuating that black voters unsure about whether to support him or President Trump “ain’t black.”
“I should not have been so cavalier. I’ve never, never, ever taken the African American community for granted,” Biden said, addressing the controversy in a phone call with the U.S. Black Chambers Friday afternoon. “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy.”
The former vice president acknowledged that his comment made it seem like he was taking “the African American vote for granted.”
“I know that the comments have come off like I was taking the African American vote for granted. But nothing could be further [from] the truth,” Biden said. “I’ve never ever done that, and I’ve earned it every time I’ve run. I was making the point that I have never taken the vote for granted. And in fact, I know in order to win the presidency, I need the African American vote. And it was the driving force, as I said, in the beginning of my campaign [a] year ago, to my being able to win in the first place and win the primary. And it is going to be critical to my winning the presidency.”
When asked if Biden’s remarks might offend African Americans voters, Clyburn attributed them to Biden misspeaking as he is “not a perfect person,” and reiterated his support for the former vice president.
“Look, he’s not a perfect person; all of us have misspoken,” the House minority whip said. “I do it all the time. We sometimes say things we do not really mean; they come out a little bit wrong, and that’s what happened here.”
“I think all of us know Joe Biden. I’ve said that. I know him. And he knows me. He knows the African American community very well,” Clyburn added. “I’ve done a lot of stuff for Joe Biden over the years and I would not have supported him if I did not think he was best suited to be the next president of the United States. It’s just that simple.”
Clyburn, who many credits with reviving Biden’s dead campaign by endorsing the former Vice President before the South Carolina primary in late February and plays a role as an informal advisor for his campaign stated that it’s “not a must” to pick an African American running mate.
“I think we’ve taken a little too much on to tell a person what he must do. If it doesn’t happen, then what? I think — and I’ve said this before there should be polling, there should be vetting, and he should be instructed by the polling and the vetting, and should be guided by his heart and his head,” Clyburn said. “That is as far as I wish to go with telling him how to conduct himself going forward. We are all human beings, we are all sensitive about our own thinking apparatus, and none of us want to be told what you must do. I don’t like that at all. And I would never tell that to anybody.”