Joe Biden met with black clergy in South Carolina on Tuesday
Biden to ministers: "This is not your father's Republican Party"
South Carolina is an early presidential primary state
Vice President Joe Biden, in a closed-door meeting with black clergy in South Carolina on Tuesday, referred to himself as “the only white boy on the east side of Wilmington” as he recalled his days as a Delaware public defender and pressed faith leaders to elect Democrats this year.
He offered a candid critique of Republicans, calling the tea party “crazy,” according to a detailed readout of Biden’s remarks provided to CNN by a person in the room.
“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” he said, according to the source. “This is a different breed of cat, man. I am not making a moral judgment, but I will tell you that they have no judgment.”
Biden was in South Carolina for the day to support local Democrats in competitive races. But South Carolina’s role as an early presidential primary state added another layer of political intrigue to his trip, one of several to the state this year.
His office declined to comment on his remarks at the private meeting.
Biden predicted dire consequences for Democrats if Republicans win full control of Congress in November.
“If they win again, we are going to get no consensus on anything for the next two, four, six years,” Biden told the gathering of more than 100 ministers. “But if we beat some of these folks, it’s going to give some spine to the Republicans who know better.”
He added, “If we win, will turn things around. There will begin to be consensus.”
The day’s public event was a rally at Allen University, a historically black university in Columbia. Before a crowd of roughly 1,000 people, Biden took sharp aim at Republicans in Congress and in the South Carolina state house, including Gov. Nikki Haley, accusing them of putting ideology over compromise.
“Your governor is denying 200,000 South Carolinians additional Medicaid because she opposes expansion,” Biden said.
But he was more blunt in the gathering with ministers. He said Americans side with Democrats on issues from minimum wage, “tax fairness,” combating climate change and making climate change affordable. Pointing to the enactment of strict voter ID laws in GOP-dominated states, Biden said Republicans have been successful in discouraging Democrats, especially African-Americans, from voting.
“What the other team has done so skillfully over the last 15 years is convince our folks that it’s not worth voting,” he said. “Rich guys never get fooled that it’s not worth voting. They always show up and vote. But they tell our folks it doesn’t matter, that government doesn’t work anyway.”
At one point referring to himself as “Joe Biden, progressive Democrat,” Biden pointed to gains in manufacturing jobs under President Barack Obama, but said the middle class still “has not come back yet.”
“You can see it in the eyes of your parishioners,” he said. “It’s not just in black America, it’s white America as well. People are wondering, when is it going to be OK?”