Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez dodged questions Sunday about whether attacks on former Vice President Joe Biden’s record on busing has hurt his front-runner status, instead arguing the entire Democratic field far outpaces President Donald Trump and Republicans on civil rights issues.
Asked in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” how damaging attacks on the former vice president’s opposition to federally mandated school busing in the 1970s could be, Perez said Biden and other candidates’ overall civil rights records are “clear.”
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“Voters are going to look at the totality of everybody’s record,” Perez said. “And the reality is every single Democrat running for president on the issue of civil rights is so far ahead of where this president is.”
“Biden’s overall record on civil rights is clear, and the Democratic Party’s overall record on civil rights is clear,” he said.
Perez added that it’s up to Biden “to explain his position.”
Biden faced a withering attack during Thursday’s Democratic presidential primary debate from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on his opposition to federal court-ordered busing implemented to desegregate schools. And Biden came under criticism for touting his ability to work segregationist senators during his time in the Senate.
Biden called Harris’ attack a distortion of his record, saying in a speech Friday that he “never, ever opposed voluntary busing.”
Perez said Democrats’ civil rights policies are a “night and day” difference from Republicans and Trump, pointing to the party’s stances on voting rights, equal pay, accountability in policing. Voters, the party chairman argued, “saw that we have a deep bench.”
“On this score, Vice President Biden and other Democrats have been leading the charge. And we have a frontal assault with this president on these basic core civil rights,” Perez said. “That’s what this campaign is going to be about.”
“Voters will have to look at the totality of the vice president’s record and every candidate’s record,” he said. “And I invite them to kick the tires on all of our candidates.”