Joe Biden faced a swift backlash on Friday for suggesting during a contentious radio interview with host Charlamagne tha God that those having a hard time “figuring out” whether to support him or President Trump “ain’t black.”
The dustup occurred 17 minutes into the former vice president‘s interview on “The Breakfast Club” – a nationally broadcast morning talk show popular with black listeners – when a Biden aide tried to end the interview, prompting the host to charge, “You can’t do that to black media.”
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The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee stressed that his wife had an upcoming engagement, and suggested he would have to go whether dealing with “white media” or “black media.”
“Uh, oh … I’m in trouble,” he joked as he referred to making his wife late. Biden and his wife Jill Biden share the same studio in the basement of their home in Wilmington, Del.
After Charlamagne tha God, who is black, then asked Biden to come back on the program again and the former vice president agreed, the host added, “It’s a long way to November. We’ve got more questions.”
That’s when Biden dove into a rapid-fire defense of his record with the black community.
“I tell you if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” he said.
It’s unclear whether Biden meant to refer only to the host or to the black community as a whole.
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Charlamagne tha God responded that “it has nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with the fact that I want something for my community.”
Biden fired back, “Take a look at my record. I extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. I have a record that is second to none. The NAACP’s endorsed me every time I’ve run. Take a look at the record.”
After the friction, the interview – which was pre-taped on Thursday – ended on a mutually positive note with Biden again agreeing that he “will come back.”
But the “You ain’t black” moment reverberated on social media, with the host retweeting a variety of listeners complaining about it. Biden “should never say to a black man ‘You aint black’ under ANY circumstances,” one wrote.
“The Breakfast Club” put the question to listeners on whether they agree with Biden:
President Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, quickly highlighted the clip, tweeting, “This is disgusting.”
Trump senior adviser Katrina Pierson called the remarks “racist and dehumanizing,” saying Biden believes black voters are “incapable of being independent or free thinking.”
She added: “He truly believes that he, a 77-year-old white man, should dictate how Black people should behave. Biden has a history of racial condescension and today he once again proved what a growing number of Black Americans and I have always known: Joe Biden does not deserve our votes.”
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh spotlighted a quote from Kanye West, a prominent African-American supporter of the president, saying, “I will not be told who I’m gonna vote on because of my color.”
But Biden campaign adviser Symone Sanders defended the comments, stressing Biden’s record with the black community and saying: “The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period.”
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Biden has enjoyed widespread support among black voters, not just in general election polls – Fox News polling shows black voters favor Biden over Trump by 76-12 percent – but during the primary battle. His victory in the South Carolina primary, boosted by black voters’ support, helped revive his then-struggling campaign and catapult him toward a dominating performance on Super Tuesday.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time a 2020 contender has questioned the party affiliation of a particular race or religion. Last year, President Trump faced a backlash for saying American Jews who support Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
He was pointing to anyone supporting Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, both critics of Israel.
Fox News’ Madeleine Rivera and Judson Berger contributed to this report.