As reported by WashingtonExaminer
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been emphasizing his civil rights record as he considers a 2020 White House bid, once praised notorious segregationist George Wallace and later claimed to have received an award from him.
“I think the Democratic Party could stand a liberal George Wallace — someone who’s not afraid to stand up and offend people, someone who wouldn’t pander but would say what the American people know in their gut is right,” Biden told the Philadelphia Enquirer on Oct. 12, 1975, referring to the racist then-Alabama governor. During 1987 fundraising trips across the South for his unsuccessful 1988 presidential bid, he sought to appeal to white voters, telling audiences that he had received an award from Wallace in 1973 and that the segregationist had lauded him as “one of the outstanding young politicians of America.”
Last week, Biden, who could face at least two African-American opponents in the 2020 race for the presidency, told an audience in Fort Lauderdale that “I came out of the civil rights movement.” He has also stressed his closeness to “my buddy” Barack Obama, America’s first black president, who chose him as his vice presidential running mate in 2008 and 2012.
Wallace, an open segregationist who in later life apologized for his positions, famously punctuated his 1963 inaugural address with the rallying cry: “Segregation now, segregation forever!” He ran for president as a segregationist three times in 1964, 1968, and in 1972, when his campaign was cut short after he was shot and crippled in Laurel, Md.
Biden’s 1975 comments came on the heels of a legislative victory in the Senate, when he sponsored an amendment to prevent the federal government enforcing busing policies to desegregate school districts. Biden’s amendment appalled civil rights activists who claimed it set back desegregation efforts and struck down parts of the Civil Rights Act.
“The pro-busers and the civil rights lobby were dumbstruck … although I had put them on notice months earlier,” said Biden in the interview. “I think I’ve made it possible for liberals to come out of the closet … If [anti-busing] isn’t yet a respectable liberal position, it is no longer a racist one.”
The Washington Examiner reported last week that Biden embraced segregation in October 1975, the same month he said Democrats could do with “a liberal George Wallace,” stating that it was a matter of “black pride.”
Biden’s historical praise for Wallace is a marked contrast to his recent statements about the late Alabama politician. In October 2018, Biden lambasted President Trump for being like Wallace.
“No president has ever led by fear. Not Lincoln. Not Roosevelt. Not Kennedy. Not Reagan,” said Biden during a Democratic rally in Orlando, Fla. “This president [Trump] is more like George Wallace than George Washington!”
Biden stressed his anti-busing legislation while campaigning for white votes in Southern states for his campaign for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.
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