Coons: Biden should be judged on 'lifelong record' of 'fighting for civil rights'

Coons: Biden should be judged on 'lifelong record' of 'fighting for civil rights'
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDemocratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years Scalise says it's unclear if bipartisan deal on guns will happen Senate Democrat says he is working with Republicans on bipartisan gun legislation MORE (D-Del.) on Sunday defended former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenEric Holder: Democrats 'have to understand' that 'borders mean something' Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Biden says he'll release medical records before primaries MORE’s record on civil rights after Biden said last week that he was “wrong” for speaking fondly of his working relationship with segregationists in the Senate.

“His lifelong record of standing up and fighting for civil rights is what he should be judged on,” Coons said of Biden, who caused controversy in recent weeks after speaking of the “civility” of his work in the Senate with Sens. James Eastland (D-Miss.) and Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.).

Coons also defended Biden’s failure to apologize when confronted on the issue in the first June Democratic primary debate, saying “one of the challenges of the debate stage is everybody’s got 60 seconds to address very complex issues.”

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“It’s important that he gave a speech in which he acknowledged” the harm caused by the remarks, Coons added.

“Folks, now was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it and I’m sorry for any of the pain or misconception I may have caused anybody,” Biden said in a South Carolina speech Saturday.

Biden has also been under increased scrutiny in recent weeks over his past opposition to desegregation busing, which resulted in a viral moment when his fellow presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris keeps up 'little dude' attack on Trump after debate The crosshairs of extremism  On The Money: Democratic candidates lay into Trump on trade | China exempts US soybeans, pork from tariff hikes | Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure MORE (D-Calif.), highlighted both his past opposition and his praise for Eastland and Talmadge.

“I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” Harris said. “But I also believe, and it’s personal and I was actually very — it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”