Biden recalls having lunch with Senate “segregationist” James Eastland, Strom Thurmond

President Joe Biden on Friday recalled bringing back “the old days” in the US Senate when he was able to sit down for a bite with “true segregationists” in Washington, though he disagreed with them.

“You know, things have kind of changed since the days I got there,” Biden told video Friday to a crowd at a manufacturing plant in Hamilton shows. “I was there, I was elected to the United States Senate at the age of 29 from a very humble background. And I was there 36 years before I became vice president.

“We used to fight like hell. And even in the old days when we had real segregationists like Eastland and Thurmond and all those guys,” he said, referring to former segregationist Senators James Eastland (D-Miss.) and Strom Thurmond (RS.C.).

“But at least we would end up having lunch together. things have changed. We have to bring it back,” the President concluded.

Senator James Eastland
President Joe Biden recalled having lunch with “true segregationists” like Senator James Eastland.
Senator Strom Thurmond
President Joe Biden said he would “fight like hell” with senators like Strom Thurmond but still be able to dine with them.

Biden made the controversial remarks at the United Performance Metals facility, located about 30 miles north of Cincinnati, where he was joined by both US senators from Ohio, Fox News reported.

Biden’s comments sparked an immediate backlash online.

“Segregationists were notoriously cool about who could have lunch together,” joked Dan Mclaughlin, a senior reporter at the National Review, in a tweet Friday.

“Nothing like a hot lunch with a segregationist…” joked conservative political commentator David Rubin.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden was joined by the two Ohio senators.
Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman.
Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman United Performance Metals.
Getty Images
President Joe Biden Ohio Senator Rob Portman
President Joe Biden speaks with Ohio Senator Rob Portman.

“Biden is nostalgic for the good old days of the senatorship, with openly racists fighting for and defending state-enforced segregation.” tweeted Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner DOJ reporter.

“That’s nothing to be proud of, Mr. President.” called NFL Hall of Famer and sports talk show host Shannon Sharpe.

This isn’t the first time Biden has been criticized for how he previously worked with segregationist colleagues in the Senate.

At a 2019 presidential campaign fundraiser in New York City, Biden spoke to supporters about how in the 1970s he had worked with Sens. Eastland and Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.), who opposed integration, to make things happen take care of.

He noted that Eastland never called him “boy,” a derogatory term for black men.

Biden’s comments sparked a heated exchange with his current vice president, Kamala Harris, while she was still running for president during a Democratic debate in June 2019.

President Joe Biden
This isn’t the first time President Joe Biden has drawn criticism for his comments about Senate segregationists.
President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden tours United Performance Metals in Hamilton, Ohio.

“I don’t think you’re racist,” Harris, who grew up as a second grader at her California public school, told her future comrade-in-arms.

“But I also think, and it’s personal, it was hurtful to hear you speak about the reputation of two US senators who have built their reputations and careers on segregation in this country,” Harris had said.

At a campaign event a month later in South Carolina in July 2019, Biden said it was wrong to work with Senators like Eastland early in his career.

“Am I wrong a few weeks ago? Yes, I was, and I regret it,” he said. Biden recalls having lunch with Senate “segregationist” James Eastland, Strom Thurmond


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