Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sought Thursday night to limit the political damage after he said in an earlier interview that the Latino community in the United States was diverse, “unlike the African American community with notable exceptions.”
In three tweets, Biden said he wanted to “clarify” his remarks, which President Donald Trump’s campaign had seized on in its latest effort to undercut the former vice president’s support among Black voters.
“Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith – not by identity, not on issues, not at all,” Biden said.
“Throughout my career I’ve witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community. It’s this diversity that makes our workplaces, communities, and country a better place,” he said. “My commitment to you is this: I will always listen, I will never stop fighting for the African American community and I will never stop fighting for a more equitable future.”
Biden’s comment had come in a pre-taped interview hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
“What you all know but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things,” Biden said in that interview. “You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona. So it’s a very different, a very diverse community.”
His comment, campaign adviser Symone Sanders later said, was “referring to diversity of attitudes among Latinos from different Latin American countries.”
Trump’s campaign immediately pounced, with Trump tweeting: “Wow! Joe Biden just lost the entire African American community. What a ‘dumb’ thing to say!”
“The condescending white liberal racism that oozes out of Joe Biden is disgusting,” Trump senior adviser Katrina Pierson said in a statement.
Biden won the Democratic primary on the strength of his overwhelming support among Black voters, who propelled him to a blow-out victory in South Carolina and then effectively cemented his victory in the weeks that followed.
But Thursday was the second time he had to backtrack from comments he has made about Black voters since then. In May, Biden said he “shouldn’t have been such a wise guy” after telling popular radio host Charlamagne tha God that anyone struggling to decide whether to support Biden or Trump in the general election “ain’t Black.”
Biden has framed his campaign around his opposition to Trump’s racist comments and actions, which includes questioning former President Barack Obama’s citizenship, expressing frustration with immigrants from “s***hole countries” and referring to white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, and counter-protesters by saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”
Biden has frequently cited Trump’s comments on Charlottesville as the moment Biden decided to run for President in 2020.