Biden cites 'civility' with segregationist senators: 'We got things done'

Biden cites 'civility' with segregationist senators: 'We got things done'
© Aaron Schwartz

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting MORE on Tuesday recalled his past in the Senate while speaking at a fundraiser, telling an audience that he once served cordially alongside staunch segregationists within his own party.

NBC News reported that Biden said that there was “civility” when he was a senator working with segregationist Sens. James Eastland (D-Miss.) and Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.) in the 1970s, saying that they “didn't agree on much” but they “got things done.”  


"I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland," Biden said. "He never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son.'"

He then called Talmadge "one of the meanest guys I ever knew," according to the report.

"Well, guess what?" Biden reportedly continued. "At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished."

"But today, you look at the other side and you're the enemy," Biden added. "Not the opposition — the enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore."

Biden continued by saying that the “New Left” calls him “old fashioned.”

"I know the new 'New Left' tells me that I'm — this is old-fashioned," he said. "Well, guess what? If we can't reach a consensus in our system, what happens? It encourages and demands the abuse of power by a president."

Eastland, who served in the Senate for more than 30 years, from 1943-1978, had a history of support for racial segregation and racist language.

He blocked more than 100 civil rights-related bills during his time as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, and once reportedly tried to convince President Lyndon Johnson (D) that three missing civil rights workers who were later found murdered in Mississippi had actually absconded to Chicago.

During the fundraiser Tuesday, Biden did not mention Eastland's controversial positions and remarks.

Biden currently sits at the top of most polls of the 2020 Democratic field and is set to appear center stage alongside fellow front-runner Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Democratic tensions will only get worse as left loses patience McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats Socially-distanced 'action figure' photo of G7 leaders goes viral MORE (I-Vt.) during the second night of the Democratic debate next week.