Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this'

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOutsider candidates outpoll insider candidates The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race Poll: Biden support hits record low of 26 percent MORE (D-N.J.) hit back on Wednesday against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry MORE's defense of using his relationship with two segregationist senators as an example of civility, calling Biden's remarks "deeply disappointing." 

"Vice President Biden shouldn't need this lesson," Booker told CNN's Don LemonDon Carlton LemonConservatives slam Beto O'Rourke over threat to tax-exempt status for religious organizations CNN LGBTQ town hall interrupted by protesters O'Rourke: Religious institutions should lose tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage MORE

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"At a time when we have in the highest offices in the land divisiveness, racial hatred and bigotry being spewed, he should have the sensitivity to know that this is time I need to be an ally, I need to be a healer, I need to not engage in usage of words that harms folks," he continued. "This is deeply disappointing." 

Biden dismissed calls from Booker and his fellow Democratic primary opponents to apologize for his Tuesday remarks about his work with former segregationist Sens. James Eastland (D-Miss.) and Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.). 

“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,” Biden said at a Tuesday night fundraiser. 

Biden also reminisced about working with Eastland and Talmadge in the Senate, saying Eastland never called him “boy.”

Numerous 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have condemned the remarks

"Apologize for what?" Biden said when asked whether he would apologize for the comments. "He knows better," Biden added, referring to the New Jersey senator. "There’s not a racist bone in my body. I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career. Period. Period. Period."

"What matters to me is that a guy running to be the head of our party, which is a significantly diverse and wondrous party, doesn't even understand and can't even acknowledge that he made a mistake, whether the intention was there or not," Booker said. "Instead, he's fallen back into the defensive crouch that often people say, which is 'Cory called me a racist' or 'I'm not a racist,' which is not what I said, and not what I'm calling him."

"This is the problem. He knows better," he continued. "At a time when Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE never apologizes for anything and starts to create that toxic sentiment that you never apologize ... I know Joe Biden. He's better than this." 

Biden's campaign forcefully pushed back about the backlash earlier on Wednesday. 

"[Biden] did not praise a segregationist. That is a disingenuous take. He basically said sometimes in Congress, one has to work with terrible or down right racist folks to get things done. And then went on to say when you can't work with them, work around them," Symone SandersSymone SandersBiden defends ties to former fossil fuel executive at climate forum Monmouth acknowledges poll showing Biden losing support was 'outlier' Democratic contenders unload on news media MORE, a senior adviser for the Biden campaign, tweeted.