Biden remark about segregationists 'just makes him look older,' Democratic strategist says

Democratic strategist Kristen Hawn said Thursday that former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates Biden pitches new subsidies, public option in health care plan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE’s remark this week about working with two segregationist lawmakers “just makes him look older.”

“I don’t think it’s going to stick that Joe Biden is racist,” Hawn, a senior strategist at Agenda Global, told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti on “Rising.”

“It actually just makes him look older,” she added.

Biden sparked controversy on Tuesday after he invoked his working relationships with two segregationist senators as an example of "civility." The former vice president recalled working with Sens. James O. Eastland (D-Miss.) and Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.) during a speech at a fundraiser Tuesday night.

He was later called out by his fellow Democratic presidential primary contenders, including Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker prison reform bill would give older prisoners a 'second look' Booker to unveil plan for older Americans' long-term health care: report Judd Gregg: Counting the costs of Democrats' desires MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates Judd Gregg: Counting the costs of Democrats' desires Buttigieg: 'Medicare for all,' free college tuition are 'questionable on their merits' MORE (Calif.) who are black. 

Booker called on Biden to apologize for the remarks, calling the former vice president "wrong" for using such relationships as examples of how to unify the country. 

“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys,’” Booker said in a statement. “Men like James O. Eastland used words like that, and the racist policies that accompanied them, to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity."

Harris said she was deeply concerned over the remarks, adding that, "If those men had their way, I wouldn't be in the United States Senate and on this elevator right now."

Biden, on Wednesday, refused to apologize, instead charging that Booker owed him an apology. 

Hawn went on to defend Biden over this remarks, saying he was trying to emphasize the need to come together across the political spectrum, no matter how “abhorrent you think somebody is.”

“I’m not saying that I’m defending his example, but I also believe that he was talking about the need for people to come together and actually work together, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, no matter how abhorrent you think somebody is,” she said.

But she added that she didn't agree with how Biden articulated his remarks and how he handled the subsequent backlash. 

“Now how he delivered it and we know how he tends to commit these gaffes and how they handled the follow up to it, that’s a different matter,” she told Hill.TV.

— Tess Bonn