Former Vice President Joe Biden has been a regular gaffe machine this week. Within hours of saying he values “truth over facts,” he appeared to conflate poverty with skin color before correcting himself.
The current 2020 Democratic nomination front-runner told a crowd of supporters in Iowa that “poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids,” as if to associate being poor with being a minority and being intelligent and talented with being white.
“We should challenge these students, we should challenge students in these schools and have advance placement programs in these schools,” Biden told the Asian and Latino Coalition PAC, in comments reported by Fox News. “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”
Biden paused after delivering the line, prompting the audience to begin to clap. Apparently catching himself, Biden quickly expanded the list of talented kids to include blacks and Asians.
“Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids. No, I really mean it. But think how we think about it,” he added.
The moment came shortly after he delivered another equally head-scratching comment in which he seemed to think “facts” and “truth” are diametrically opposed realities.
“We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts,” Joe Biden enthusiastically told a crowd of cheering supporters.
The comments add to the already long list of gaffes throughout his career, including during the 2008 presidential campaign, in which he condescendingly referred to Obama as an “articulate” and “clean” African American.
“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Biden said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
In response to the criticism, Biden told reporters at the time his comments had been taken out of context, which he will likely do when progressives pounce on him for seemingly equating poverty with skin color.
“Barack Obama is probably the most exciting candidate that the Democratic or Republican Party has produced at least since I’ve been around,” Biden said in his defense. “And he’s fresh. He’s new. He’s smart. He’s insightful. And I really regret that some have taken totally out of context my use of the word ‘clean.'”
In this election cycle, Biden issued his biggest gaffe of the campaign when he praised two Democrat segregationists for being examples in political civility. “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me boy, he always called me son,” said Biden, reportedly in a southern accent.
Sen. James O. Eastland (D-MS) fervently opposed civil rights and has been referred to as the “Voice of the White South.” Biden also held up Sen. Herman Talmadge (D-GA) as an example of political civility — a man whom Biden described as being “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”
“Well guess what? At least there was some civility,” he said of Talmadge. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
Beyond the gaffes, the former vice president has largely turned his attention to President Trump this week, whom he has accused of enabling white supremacists through his rhetoric.
“In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation,” Biden said in the wake of the horrific shooting in El Paso, Texas. “Trump offers no moral leadership, no interest in unifying the nation, no evidence the presidency has awakened his conscience in the least. Our president has more in common with George Wallace than George Washington.”