Biden invokes segregationists in recalling senate civility

At the event, Biden noted that he served with the late Sens. James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, both Democrats who were staunch opponents of desegregation.

Biden invokes segregationists in recalling senate civility

NEW YORK — Joe Biden, defending himself on Tuesday night against suggestions that he is too “old fashioned” for today’s Democratic Party, invoked two Southern segregationist senators by name as he fondly recalled the “civility” of the Senate in the 1970s and 1980s.

Speaking at a fundraiser at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City, Biden, 76, stressed the need to “be able to reach consensus under our system” and cast his decades in the Senate as a time of relative comity. His remarks come as some in his party say that Biden is too focused on overtures to the right as he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.

At the event, Biden noted that he served with the late Sens. James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, both Democrats who were staunch opponents of desegregation.

He called Talmadge “one of the meanest guys I ever knew,” according to a pool report from the fundraiser.

“Well guess what?” Biden said. “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 has long discussed his commitment to civil rights, and he has many strong relationships in the African American community. He has also previously pointed to his dealings with segregationists like Eastland as an example of a time when Senate colleagues could disagree but still reach common ground.

Biden’s appearance at the Carlyle was his third fundraiser of the day. There and at previous stops, he suggested that bold actions on a range of issues could be achieved without anyone being “punished,” including the wealthy.

“I got in trouble with some of the people on my team, on the Democratic side, because I said, ‘You know what I’ve found is rich people are just as patriotic as poor people,’” he said.

At the same time, he warned, “when we have income inequality as large as we have in the United States today, it brews and ferments political discord and basic revolution.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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