2020 Daily Trail Markers: Biden expresses regret for saying black voters “ain’t black” if they’re considering Trump

2020 Daily Trail Markers: Biden expresses regret for saying black voters “ain’t black” if they’re considering Trump

Joe Biden expressed regret Friday for comments made earlier in the day on an influential radio program, “The Breakfast Club.” In a phone call with members of the U.S. Black Chambers, a business organization, Biden sought to clarify and explain — but did not explicitly apologize — for his comments, according to CBS News political reporter Ed O’Keefeproducer Rebecca Kaplancampaign reporter Bo Erickson and CBS News digital politics reporter Grace Segers. “If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” Biden said. “It don’t have nothing to do with Trump — it has to do with the fact that I want something for my community,” host Charlamagne Tha God countered. Biden replied that he should take a look at his voting record to see his longtime support for the black community. During the phone call Friday afternoon, Biden said this: “I should not have been so cavalier. I’ve never, never, ever taken the African American community for granted.” He continued, “No one no one should have to vote for any party based on their race, their religion, their background. There are African Americans who think that Trump was worth voting for, I don’t think so. I’m prepared to put my record against his. That was the bottom line and it was ah – it was really unfortunate, I shouldn’t have been so cavalier.”

On a Trump campaign call with reporters Friday, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports Republican Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina said he was “shocked” by the former vice president’s comments. “I thought to myself, I’ve been black for 54 years,” Scott said. “I was struck by the condescension and the arrogance.” Addressing fellow lawmakers in the Senate, Scott urged his colleagues to disavow the comments. “Race baiting in the 21st century is an ineffective tool to attract one of the most intelligent voting blocks in the nation,” he remarked. Meanwhile, Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson said, “We hear a lot on the left, particularly in the media, about white privilege.” She continued “And I think that this video is the perfect example. An 80-year-old white man telling a young black man how to be black is the definition of white privilege,” misstating Biden’s age. Both surrogates for the president touted the Trump administration’s support of permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities and opportunity zones. President Trump has not been on The Breakfast Club Morning Show, hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God. Pierson said she “would not be opposed” to the president joining the program in the future, noting that the White House dictates Mr. Trump’s schedule. In a video posted to Twitter on Friday, Michigan Republican Senate candidate John James called the former vice president’s remarks, “some seriously condescending, out of touch bullcrap.” The U.S. Army Veteran added, “You should think long and hard about what you said and what it means. And also your use of the word ‘ain’t.’ You should also make sure you carry hot sauce in your purse next time.”

CBS News polling shows Biden is supported by 9 in 10 African American voters nationwide. Biden has said he’s considering several black women for vice president. The list includes Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, who on Friday told CBS News in a statement, “I understand the feelings around this morning’s interview, and we will continue to use the talent, strength, and ingenuity in the Black community to hold all candidates accountable, even the ones we support. That’s what mutual respect looks like. As we try to deal with a public health crisis, the total absence of leadership in the White House, and a nation where divisions of race have been purposefully exploited, we should all be cognizant of the words we use.” Demings added, “We need a president who is willing to work hard and fight for real solutions to give our community a fighting chance. There is only one person in the race willing to do that. To Vice President Biden: keep up the fight. Our children and grandchildren are depending on you to restore, rebuild, and heal our nation.”

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said on CBSN Friday that Biden should not assume he has the full support of the African American community during the election. “You cannot take the African American vote for granted.” Johnson acknowledged that Biden has significant support in the African American community, but said the presumptive nominee should work to maintain that critical support. “You either win or lose with the support of the African American community,” he said.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Biden on Thursday night was pressed on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”  about Senator Amy Klobuchar’s chances of making his running mate “short list.” Biden responded positively: “Amy’s first rate, don’t get me wrong.” Biden said “no one’s been vetted yet by the team” but confirmed the initial preliminary outreach to gauge interest is “coming to an end now.” For her part, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson says Klobuchar said in a WCCO Radio interview Friday morning this stated timing from Biden of the vetting process is “correct” and that “you’re going to hear a lot of rumors out there.” She added later, “I’m not going to talk about this process because I think it is going to be Joe Biden in the end that is going to be the decision maker here.”  

PRESIDENT TRUMP

Mr. Trump announced Friday that churches and other houses of worship are “essential,” and demanded governors nationwide allow them to reopen “right now” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, CBS News campaign reporters Nicole Sganga and Musadiq Bidar report. “Today, I’m identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services,” Mr. Trump said at a last-minute press conference in the White House Briefing room. The president added if governors do not abide by his recommendation, he will “override” them, though, it is not clear by what authority. “Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.” The President did not take questions from reporters. Following his remarks, White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, suggested individuals with comorbidities in high-risk COVID-19 areas may want to “wait another week” before visiting their church, mosque or synagogue. Birx urged faith leaders to reach out to local health departments in order to mitigate risks for more vulnerable community members. “There is a way to social distance in places of worship,” she told reporters. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called it “safe” to reopen churches if done so in accordance with new guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control. The president’s call to reopen places of worship coincides with the end of Ramadan. Muslims across the country will celebrate Eid al-Fitr this weekend. On the first morning of Eid, expected this Sunday, Muslims attend morning sermons and prayers in large gatherings at mosques. Some communities, including ones in California’s Bay Area, have already planned virtual celebrations. The San Francisco Muslim Community Center is planning for an online sermon, while the Nor Cal Islamic Center has four hours of programming with guest speakers and entertainment scheduled for Sunday morning.

Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Georgia on Friday. He was accompanied on Air Force Two by Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. Among the dignitaries greeting Pence on the tarmac, reports CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar, was Congressman Doug Collins, who is challenging incumbent Loeffler for her Senate seat. Pence had lunch with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp at Star Café in Northwest Atlanta. Pence shared that he had pulled pork and meatloaf during lunch and added that it was “a great meal and we are able to do that because of what the people of Georgia have done.” Pence told reporters that the Trump administration is looking at a phase four stimulus bill and those conversations are “actively underway.” Pence said he is “working in real time” with lawmakers from both parties to extend paycheck protections, adding “stay tuned.” He told the people of Georgia to “go back to your local hospital, go ahead and have that procedure, go and have that routine check up to support your health and support your local health care community.” Pence also held a roundtable discussion with restaurant executives at Waffle House headquarters to discuss reopening of restaurants in the state. “We are now in a position to open the country again,” Pence said during his opening remarks. He added that Georgia is leading the way in that effort. On Wednesday, while he was in Florida, Pence made similar remarks, saying that state is “setting the pace” in terms of fighting against the coronavirus. Last month,  Mr. Trump criticized Kemp for his decision to reopen small business in the state. Mr. Trump at the time said he “strongly” opposed Kemp’s plans and urged him to wait a bit longer. Now Vice Pence carried a different message from the White House. “President Trump and I couldn’t be more proud or grateful for the clear, courageous, and principled leadership of Governor Brian Kemp,” Pence said at the roundtable discussion. The vice president told Kemp that what he “began weeks ago here in Georgia” has spread to all 50 states who also now have started to reopen their economies. Pence also said a growing economy is what contributes to the physical and emotional well-being of Americans. The Biden campaign suggested Pence’s visit to Atlanta is disingenuous. “Georgians need decisive actions from transparent and empathetic leaders, but instead today they will get a photo-op,” said Biden senior adviser Symone Sanders. Trump Victory Spokesperson Savannah Viar said “Georgians knows President Trump and Vice President Pence will always put them first.”

STATE-BY-STATE

FLORIDA

Continuing his swing through battlegrounds states, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar visited Florida on Friday. According to Governor Ron DeSantis’ office, he and Azar participated in a tour and roundtable discussion at a Jacksonville health center to highlight their efforts in supporting COVID-19 patients. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that this visit comes as DeSantis has lifted all restrictions on youth activities in the state, which include summer camps and athletics, effective immediately. “As evidenced by Secretary Azar’s visit today, the rest of the country is turning to Florida as an example of how to battle coronavirus and safely re-open without draconian overreach,” said Trump Victory Spokesperson Emma Vaughn in an emailed statement. “Thanks to steadfast and nuanced leadership from the Trump Administration and Governor DeSantis to slow the spread of coronavirus, Florida has flattened the curve and we have begun to safely re-open our economy.” The Biden campaign responded to the visit saying that healthcare workers in Jacksonville “don’t want a photo-op” with the secretary. “While we certainly hope Secretary Azar is being truthful when he says ‘we are ready to support’ Florida as the state reopens, actions – or lack thereof – speak louder than words,” said Paige Hill, regional communications director for the Biden campaign, in an emailed statement. “This administration’s botched response has told Floridians all they need to know.”

Mitchell also reports that results are in from the Florida Democratic Party’s district-level delegate elections that were held electronically last weekend. According to FLDP, nearly 12,000 Democratic voters participated in electing the state’s 143 district-level delegates and 13 district-level alternates, who will represent the state at the Democratic National Convention. As previously reported by CBS News, uncertainty remains surrounding both parties’ national conventions scheduled this fall.

MICHIGAN

All registered Michigan voters have been sent absentee ballot applications, the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office announced Thursday night. CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster reports the move came after two days of national controversy during which Mr. Trump threatened to withhold federal funding over the planned move. “All people on the list of Michigan registered voters have been mailed an APPLICATION to vote by mail,” read a bulletin from the Michigan Department of State. Any Michigan voter was already able to vote by mail after 67% of voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 that allowed “no-excuse” absentee voting. Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on Tuesday that she was going to send absentee ballot request forms to all registered Michigan voters for the August primary and November general elections. The move was thrown into the national spotlight on Wednesday when Mr. Trump, a vocal critic of expanding vote-by-mail, threatened to withhold federal money to Michigan over the move. While visiting Michigan on Thursday, the president did not say which federal money he was considering holding up. He repeated concerns about fraud from mail voting and said he wants “good, straight, honest voting.” Mr. Trump added, “We don’t want to have vote-by-mail.”

On Friday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the requirement that mail ballots in Michigan have to arrive by the time polls close on Election Day in order to be counted. During Michigan’s local elections in May, the lawsuit says 1.75% of ballots arrived after that deadline, and say at that rate thousands of people could be disenfranchised in November. They are asking that all ballots be counted if they are postmarked or have information indicating a ballot was mailed on or before election day, but received up to 6 days later. If the ballot lacks a postmark, or it is illegible, they say ballots that arrive the day after election day should be counted.

KEY CONSTITUENCIES

ASIAN AMERICANS

The Asian American Action Fund, a national political action committee focused on electing progressive Asian Americans, sent a letter to Biden urging him to select an Asian American woman, specifically Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois or Senator Kamala Harris of California, as his running mate. CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says the letter was signed by more than 170 AAPI leaders and organizations. A Pew Research Center report released earlier this month revealed that the Asian American community is the fastest growing electorate in the country. The report showed that more than 11 million Asian Americans will be eligible voters in the 2020 election, representing nearly five percent of the nation’s voting population. The Asian American Action Fund’s letter states that Duckworth and Harris “understand the struggles facing AAPI families — struggles not unlike the struggles of other Americans — and they know how to advance opportunities for the most vulnerable in our society.” The letter also pointed to the racist physical and verbal attacks against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, while noting that the Biden campaign has a “chance to stem the tide of this racist wave in November.” The letter states “Despite our contributions to this country, AAPIs are still seen as foreign…We are not represented or recognized at the top levels of power.”

MAILING IT IN

LEGAL MATTERS

The Republican National Committee, along with the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican Party of Florida, has filed a motion to intervene in a Florida lawsuit, where Priorities USA political action committee and others are suing DeSantis. The lawsuit claims in part that the state’s election laws violate multiple amendments while challenging the constitutionality of the state’s Election Day receipt deadline for mailed ballots. The original complaint was filed on May 4th in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in an emailed statement Thursday evening that Democrats are using the pandemic to “destroy the integrity” of elections. “Their latest attempt to circumvent election law in Florida would allow paid operatives to go door-to-door to collect and deliver thousands of ballots, as well as allow votes to be counted after Election Day,” said McDaniel in the statement. “This unnecessarily exposes Florida to potential fraud.”