Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) renewed his criticism on Sunday of former Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks on race, raising concerns that his 2020 rival’s words are “causing a lot of frustration and even pain” across the nation.
“This is a bad culture when you can’t admit mistakes, when you can’t speak to your vulnerabilities and your imperfections,” Booker told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We all have them, but when it comes to difficult issues with race, if you can’t talk openly and honestly about your own development on these issues, I think it’s very hard to lead our country forward so that we can actually deal with our past and rise to a better common cause and common future.”
Earlier this month, Biden lamented the collapse of bipartisanship in Washington, harkening back to his work with segregationist lawmakers during his time in the Senate.
During Thursday’s Democratic primary debate in Miami, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) rebuked Biden’s comments and his stance against busing programs to integrate schools. The clash between the two candidates became one of the most talked about moments of the night.
Turning to Biden, Harris said “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,” adding that as a little girl, she herself was bused to school each day.
Though Biden has made no apologies and responded defensively at the debate, calling Harris’ statement a “mischaracterization of my position,” Booker insisted that the former vice president needs to speak candidly about his track record.
“We have one destiny in this nation, and right now the vice president, to me, is not doing a good job at bringing folks together,” Booker said. “In fact ... he’s causing a lot of frustration and even pain with his words.”
On Friday, Biden’s speech in Chicago drew scrutiny from Booker when he called on the country to “recognize that the kid wearing a hoodie may very well be the next poet laureate and not a gangbanger.”
Taking aim at the line on Twitter, Booker said the problem wasn’t a hoodie, but “a culture that sees a problem with a kid wearing a hoodie in the first place.”
″Our nominee needs to have the language to talk about race in a far more constructive way,” he added.