The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden seeks to tamp down controversy over remarks about black support

The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden seeks to tamp down controversy over remarks about black support
© Greg Nash

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races.

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We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail. 



Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump campaign emails supporters encouraging mask-wearing: 'We have nothing to lose' Cuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks MORE is on clean-up duty after igniting a controversy this morning on the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” hosted by Charlamagne Tha God.

Over the course of the 18-minute long interview, Charlamagne pressed Biden on his opposition to legalizing marijuana and past support for crime bills that led to the mass incarceration of black people.

But most of the news came as the interview wound down, and Charlamagne told Biden that he hoped they could continue the discussion at some later point.

“You’ve got more questions?” Biden replied. “Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black."

The remarks were first met with outrage from Republicans, such as Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottLobbyists see wins, losses in GOP coronavirus bill Revered civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis lies in state in the Capitol GOP plan would boost deduction for business meals MORE (R-S.C.) and Katrina Pierson, who leads the group ‘Black Voices for Trump.’

They accused Biden of lecturing black people on how to think and of questioning the racial authenticity of conservative black voters.


“It is clear now more than ever, following these racist and dehumanizing remarks, that Joe Biden believes black men and women are incapable of being independent or free thinking,” Pierson said. “He truly believes that he, a 77-year-old white man, should dictate how black people should behave.”

Biden campaign spokeswoman Symone SandersSymone SandersGOP official says Elizabeth Warren 'endorses voter fraud' after joke about Bailey voting for Biden Sunday shows - Bolton's bombshell book reverberates Symone Sanders: 'Appalling' testing comment was 'most damning thing' from Trump rally MORE initially defended the remarks, saying they were “made in jest” and pointed to Biden’s strong support among black voters, who delivered him resounding victories in primary states across the country.

But over the course of the day, the remarks drew blowback from the left, with former top Obama administration aide Patrick Gaspard saying Biden “is in no position to determine who is black enough or not.” 

"Pure unadulterated hubris, the taking for granted of the black vote, the insult to us as he tried to quote on quote answer that question in a black vernacular,” Nina Turner, a prominent surrogate for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersCuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Trump Spanish-language ad equates progressives, socialists Biden's tax plan may not add up MORE’s (I-Vt.) president campaign, told the progressive media outlet Status Coup.

In a hastily arranged afternoon phone call with black business leaders, Biden said he regrets the remarks.

“I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy. I shouldn’t have been so cavalier,” Biden said.

“I don’t take it for granted at all and no one should have to vote for any party based on their race, their religion or their background. There are African Americans who think Trump is worth voting for. I don’t think so, I’m prepared to put my record against his. That was the bottom line and it was really unfortunate, I shouldn’t have been so cavalier.”

"The Breakfast Club" was a popular stop for the Democratic White House hopefuls during the primary. 

But some, such as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response MORE (D-Mass.) ran into problems under directing questioning from Charlamagne. Charlamagne called Warren “the original Rachel Dolezal” for having claimed Native American heritage.

Read the full story by Jonathan Easley.


Biden regrets remarks about black support: 'I shouldn't have been such a wise guy', by Jonathan

African American figures slam Biden on 'you ain't black' comments, by J. Edward Moreno 

Trump lashes out at Fox News after poll shows him trailing Biden, by Brett Samuels


Liz Peek: Lies, damned lies and the truth about Joe Biden.

Sean Parnell: National popular vote would not diminish politics.


Activists are ramping up pressure on Biden to choose a running mate who reflects their ideology and identity, The Hill’s Niall Stanage reports. Some of that pressure is coming from progressives who want to see the former vice president choose a running mate who can excite the party’s liberal base. Others are pushing for Biden to pick a black woman as an acknowledgement of the vastly important role African Americans play in his political coalition. But a decision is still likely weeks away. Biden has said that he hopes to have potential running mates vetted by July with a final decision coming sometime after that.

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE (D-N.H.) declined to be vetted as one of Biden’s potential running mates as his team begins the process of screening prospective vice presidential candidates, The Hill’s Marina Pitofsky reports. An earlier report from CNN said that her decision to forego the vetting process stemmed from her desire to stay in the Senate.



Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerTrump and Biden tied in Georgia: poll Exclusive: Poll shows pressure on vulnerable GOP senators to back state and local coronavirus aid Biden campaign staffs up in Georgia MORE said she is not dropping out of the Georgia Senate special election despite facing scrutiny over $20 million in stock sales she made following a closed-door Senate briefing in January about the coronavirus. “Not only am I not dropping out, but I'm gonna win,” Loeffler told Politico on Thursday. Loeffler has denied any wrongdoing in her stock trading, saying that the transactions were made by an independent third-part adviser. Edward has more. 

Texas Democrats are gunning for control of the Texas state House this year, pointing to recent gains in the legislature and changing demographics of the state as evidence that a majority in the chamber is within reach, The Hill’s Tal Axelrod reports. If Democrats were to take control of the state House, it would bolster their role in shaping congressional and state legislative districts when new political maps are drawn next year. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellProfessional sports players associations come out against coronavirus liability protections Democratic leaders report 'some progress' in talks with White House Top GOP senator urges agencies to protect renters, banks amid coronavirus aid negotiations MORE (R-Ky.) promised to bring a major outdoor recreation bill to the floor next month, delivering a boost to Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott Gardner300 green groups say Senate has 'moral duty' to reject Trump's public lands nominee Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP MORE (R-Colo.) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David Daines300 green groups say Senate has 'moral duty' to reject Trump's public lands nominee Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility On The Money: GDP shrinks by record amount in second quarter amid virus lockdowns | Jobless claims rise for second straight week | McConnell tees up fight on unemployment benefits MORE (R-Mont.), two GOP incumbents who are facing tough reelection bids in November, The Hill’s Alex Bolton reports. The bill would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helps protect the habitats of endangered species, develop parks and outdoor recreation sites and protect sensitive forests. 



Biden: 48 percent (+6)

Trump: 40 percent (-2)



(Keep in mind these dates could change because of the outbreak.)

May 22:

Hawaii Democratic primary

June 2:

District of Columbia primaries

Indiana primaries

Maryland primaries

Montana primaries

New Mexico primaries

Pennsylvania primaries

Rhode Island primaries

South Dakota primaries

June 9:

Georgia primaries

West Virginia primaries

June 23:

Kentucky primaries

July 7:

New Jersey primaries

Delaware primary

July 11:


July 14:

Alabama Republican Senate primary runoff

August 11:

Connecticut primary

August 17-20:

Democratic National Convention

August 24-27:

Republican National Convention


Over the past few weeks, we’ve told you about celebrities giving back to their hometowns and states amid the coronavirus pandemic. You may recall rapper Eminem’s foundation giving first responders in Detroit spaghetti meals last month. 

On Thursday, actor Matthew McConaughey became the latest celebrity to help those in need, posting a picture of himself and his wife on Facebook wearing masks with the caption "[H]itting the road to get em to rural hospitals in need across Texas.”

McConaughey announced in the same post that the car company Lincoln, a corporation the actor has partnered with for commercials in the past, donated 110,000 masks. 

The actor’s donation comes after the state’s Agriculture Commissioner requested emergency funding for the state’s rural hospitals. 

We’ll see you on Tuesday for the latest campaign news and updates. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, everyone!