Democratic presidential contender Cory Booker on Sunday again criticized former Vice President Joe Biden’s comments on race, saying the primary front-runner’s rhetoric is dividing the nation.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the New Jersey senator said the candidate Democrats nominate to oppose President Donald Trump will need to “talk openly and honestly about race.”
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“I’m not sure if Vice President Biden is up to that task,” he said.
“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,” Booker said. “In fact, and I’ve heard this from people across the country, he’s causing a lot of frustration and even pain with his words.”
Booker blasted comments made by Biden on Friday in defense of his record on race and civil rights, where the former vice president said in a speech, “We’ve got to recognize that kid wearing a hoodie may very well be the next poet laureate and not a gangbanger.”
Biden made the remark during a speech a day after engaging in a tense exchange with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) over racial school busing at the Democratic primary debate on Thursday.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there are too many black men, and I might add women, in prison,” Biden added in Chicago.
But Booker took issue with Biden’s remarks.
“This isn’t about a hoodie. It’s about a culture that sees a problem with a kid wearing a hoodie in the first place,” Booker tweeted Friday.
On Sunday, he elaborated.
“Again, as a guy growing up as a young black guy in America, who was followed and surveilled, faced that indignity and even the danger of that, being perceived to be a threat, again, this is just another example of just conversations or lessons that Joe Biden shouldn’t have to learn,” Booker said.
Biden has come under attack from his Democratic presidential opponents for his record on race over his decades-long career, including his opposition to federal court-mandated busing to desegregate schools in the 1970s, and his leadership in crafting of a 1994 crime bill that critics point to as resulting in the disproportionate incarceration of racial minorities.
Booker previously criticized Biden for touting his work in the Senate with segregationist senators and called on him to apologize. Biden refused to apologize — and instead called on Booker to apologize for attacking him.
“I was talking about the vice president’s comments well before the debate, where he used words, like ‘boy,‘ in a way that caused a lot of hurt and harm. And I called him out on it,” Booker said. “And instead of coming forward and saying, ‘I could have said that better,’ or, ‘Let me tell you what I meant,’ he fell into a defensive crouch and tried to reassign blame and said that I should apologize to him.”