As the race for the White House kicks into a higher gear, what the candidates say publicly is of increasing importance. Perhaps this is why a comment from former Vice President Joe Biden has so many politicos scratching their heads. While appearing virtually before the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Biden asserted that Latinos have diverse attitudes while most blacks do not.
The subject came up with Lulu Garcia-Navarro of National Public Radio. She queried the Democratic candidate as to whether he has designs on re-engaging Cuba. To that Mr. Biden responded:
“Yes, yes. And by the way, 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.”
Then he doubled down with, “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 diverse community.” The Trump campaign immediately began calling Biden out and tweeted, “Uhh… did Joe Biden just say that Black people are all the same?”
Watching Mr. Biden in the video clip, it does not seem this comment was an unintended gaffe as the Democratic candidate is wont to do. Instead, it sounded like part of a prepared statement:
Campaign Biden is making a concerted effort to shore up the Latino voting bloc, but why their appeal to this demographic would include an insult to black voters seems ludicrous. As noted by Liberty Nation earlier this week, Biden may have a strong showing in the polls regarding the black vote, but he lags Mr. Trump in the “other races” category:
“Among these people who presumably include the Latin/Hispanic/Asian populations, President Trump showed substantial numbers – 51% – to Biden’s 37%.”
In mid-July, Politico reported on the Biden campaign’s turn toward capturing the Hispanic vote with an article titled, “Biden makes sharp pivot toward Latino vote.” Author Marc Caputo went on to say:
“Dogged over his relatively weak support among Latinos in both the primary and general elections, Joe Biden is conducting a massive turnaround campaign, hiring a rash of Hispanic operatives, spending $1 million in Spanish-language outreach and, this week, signing one of the nation’s top pollsters in the field, Latino Decisions.”
In July, according to Politico, the Trump campaign spent $1.2M on Spanish-language television ads – mostly in the key states of Florida and Arizona. Now with Campaign Biden poised to drop big bucks on Spanish-language ads as well, Democrats are hoping they can cut into the president’s strong showing in the “other races” demographic.
Surely there must be a way to cozy up to the Latin voter without disparaging the black community. While Joe Biden currently holds a substantial lead over President Trump with blacks, it must be noted that the president unendingly courts the black bloc by citing the pre-COVID-19 employment rate. Perhaps this is because the president understands that just a few more points of the black vote will put him in over the top this November.
For sure, Mr. Biden cannot afford to alienate black Americans, who presumably will be in his camp once he announces what all expect to be a black woman as his vice-presidential pick. And taking voters for granted is never a winning philosophy, as Hillary Clinton can attest. Perhaps, much like a doctor, the Biden campaign should cleave to the wise words of Hippocrates: “First, do no harm” when stumping for votes and leave it at that.
At approximately 9 p.m. Joe Biden’s Twitter feed issued the following:
“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.
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.
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.”
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.