Joe Biden says he “should not have been so cavalier” after a shocking interview gaffe where the Democratic nominee suggested African Americans who backed President Donald Trump “ain’t black”.
During an interview on radio show The Breakfast Club, host Charlamagne tha God told Mr Biden that black voters “saved your political life in the primaries” and “have things they want from you”.
Near the end of Mr Biden’s appearance on the radio program, host Charlamagne Tha God pressed him on reports that he is considering Minnesota Senator. Amy Klobuchar, who is white, to be his vice presidential running mate.
After Mr Biden said “multiple black women were being considered” for vice president, a Biden aide then sought to end the interview, prompting the host to say, “You can’t do that to black media”.
Mr Biden responded, “I do that to black media and white media”, and said his wife needed to use the television studio.
He then added: “If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black.”
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee quickly moved to address the fallout from his remark, which was interpreted by some as presuming black Americans would vote for him.
In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Mr Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted”.
“I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Mr Biden said.
“No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.”
‘I shouldn’t have been so cavalier’
Mr Trump’s campaign and his allies immediately seized on Mr Biden’s comments.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, a Trump supporter and the Senate’s sole black Republican, said he was “shocked and surprised” by Biden’s remarks.
“I was struck by the condescension and the arrogance in his comments,” Mr Scott said in a conference call arranged by the Trump campaign.
“I could not believe my ears that he would stoop so low to tell folks what they should do, how they should think and what it means to be black.”
Mr Biden’s since apologised for the comment.
“I shouldn’t have been so cavalier,” Mr Biden said on a subsequent call with the US Black Chambers Inc, an African-American business group.
On Twitter, people were quick to criticise Mr Biden for his comments.
One man tweeted what Mr Biden said was “arrogant” and “out of touch”.
“Let it be known the the black vote isn’t taken for granted anymore,” one tweeted.
He also called Mr Biden racist.
However, others were far more forgiving.
“The difference between Biden and Trump: Biden apologises,” one man tweeted.
“Trump has never said sorry for anything.”
Another woman tweeted people needed to “back off”.
“He made a gaffe. A joke. Nothing compared to the daily Tom Foolery of the Fool in Chief when it comes to race, gender, life, reality, COVID, etc,” she tweeted.
Mr Trump himself has a history of incendiary rhetoric related to race.
When he launched his presidential campaign in 2015, Mr Trump called many Mexican immigrants “rapists”. Campaigning in 2016, he asked black voters, “What the hell do you have to lose?”
In 2017, he said there are good people on “both sides” of the clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators that left one counter-protester dead.
In 2018, during a private White House meeting on immigration, Mr Trump wondered why the United States was admitting so many immigrants from “s***hole countries” like African nations.
He also blasted four Democratic congresswomen of colour, saying they hate America and should “go back” to where they come from, even though all are US citizens and three were born in the US.
Black voters helped resurrect Mr Biden’s campaign in this year’s primaries with a second-place finish in the Nevada caucuses and a resounding win in the South Carolina primary after he’d started with embarrassing finishes in overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sixty-one per cent of black voters supported Mr Biden during the primary season, according to AP VoteCast surveys across 17 states that voted in February and March.
Mr Biden is now seeking to maintain his standing with black voters while building the type of multiracial and multigenerational coalition that twice elected Barack Obama, whom he served as vice president.
He has already committed to picking a woman as his running mate and is considering several African American contenders who could energise black voters. But Mr Biden is also considering candidates such as Ms Klobuchar, who could appeal to white moderates.
There is little chance of a sudden shift in support for Mr Trump among black voters. A recent Fox News poll shows just 14 per cent of African Americans who are registered to vote have a favourable opinion of Trump, compared with 84 per cent who view him unfavourably.
Seventy-five per cent of African American registered voters say they have a favourable view of Mr Biden; 21 per cent hold an unfavourable opinion.
with The Associated Press and Reuters
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.