Interviews

Douglas Wilder blasts Biden's 'in chains' remarks

Former Virginia governor on White House rejecting his views on Biden comments

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Well, "Your World" is front and center right now.

Do any of you remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG WILDER (D), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: We all know he's gaffe-prone. But when you make a statement that says they are going to put "Ya'll back in chains," which means I'm OK, not going to happen to me, and they...

CAVUTO: Well, that's interesting, yes, yes.

WILDER: We will work through it, but ya'll will be in chains.

Now, slavery is nothing to joke about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: That became a big issue at the White House today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You don't understand why Wilder would be offended by the comments?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I understand that one person has expressed his opinion that he's offended by it.

QUESTION: This is more than one person.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This is the first African-American governor since Reconstruction.

CARNEY: The vice president's intention was clear. What he was talking about is clear.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: ... It's obviously not clear.

CARNEY: Is it not clear to you? Was he not talking about Wall Street...?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I thought -- personally, I think when you use the word chains in a crowd with many African-Americans you better be careful of what you're talking about.

CARNEY: I think the vice president at a later event made clear that his word choice was off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: Well, it started here and now Fox on top of the fast and furious reaction everywhere.

Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.

And Doug Wilder likes to tell me he's just a modest former governor, but in his scathing attack of Joe Biden, this particular former governor stood out. For one, he is a Democrat, and for another he is an African- American, the first African-American governor in this country.

So, let's just say when this otherwise gentlemanly Virginian gets upset and catches something a certain vice president apparently even now just doesn't get, well, this line gets noticed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILDER: Speak to them as equals, and not they are going to put ya'll back in chains, which means you are separating yourself from you all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: And again this from a stammering White House dash a stammering White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think that first African-American governor since Reconstruction is, as you put, it trying to make something out of nothing and distract from policy debates, or does he have a point?

(CROSSTALK)

CARNEY: He doesn't have a point. The vice president was talking about Wall Street reform.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: All right, Governor Wilder is back with us right now.

Governor, good to have you back on the phone.

WILDER: Thanks for having me.

CAVUTO: Now, you didn't have a point. Jay Carney said you really didn't have a point. What did you make of that?

WILDER: Well, first of all, you have to understand and recognize how difficult a press secretary's job is. You have to clean up mess and straighten up junk and try to put words into people's mouths that were not there or to take words out that were there.

And Jay did the best he could with a mess there. And I think it's professional to say that. I think this, Neil, should be pretty well understood -- and I know you understand it. I try not to speak for Doug Wilder when I speak. I try to speak for people that I identify with, people that I come into contact with, people that have a reserved opinion relative to what might be going on.

And they want to hear it. And sometimes when I say these things, it may give someone the impression that I'm speaking for me. You'd be surprised at the numbers of calls that I have gotten since being with your show -- and on your show from people and e-mails from all over the country, people saying, thank God somebody's saying it like it should be said.

Speak to people as equals, not they are going to do this to ya'll. What ya'l were you speaking about? Now, you can try to say it was Wall Street, but you and I know better. But to argue that point, it really reduces itself to absurdity.

CAVUTO: Do you think the vice president should just apologize and be done with it, or is it too late for that? What do you think?

WILDER: Well, I don't think it's too late ever to say I was wrong. I don't think it's ever too late to say I goofed.

But you've got to remember something we didn't say or speak about yesterday. One of the first things that Joe Biden did when he came to Danville, Virginia, was to say, and guess what, ya'll; we are going to carry North Carolina. You are in Virginia, man. Get your act together.

(LAUGHTER)

WILDER: And you shouldn't be surprised. You shouldn't be surprised.

But they will pass it off as just another malaprop by a guy who's known for it. But does this help Obama? I am here to tell you that, from what I've heard and what I think other people have heard this doesn't help the president.

And so is it too late for him to do anything about it, as you interviewed John McCain and others yesterday? Yes, it's too late. But it's not too late for Joe Biden to clean up his act.

CAVUTO: But is it too late as well to dump him off the ticket?

WILDER: Oh, yes, yes.

CAVUTO: This is just the latest example. There's been other remarks. This really stuck a lot of people's craw, particularly yours. But is it too late to just dump him off the ticket, because he's going to add more insult to injury?

WILDER: It's too late. It's too late.

CAVUTO: It is?

WILDER: And what they will do is like batten down the hatches and make certain you get all of the water out of the bilge, because you will be taking on more.

(LAUGHTER)

WILDER: That's what you've got.

CAVUTO: That's well put.

WILDER: It is a bad situation.

The unfortunate thing for the president -- and as I said yesterday, he doesn't need this. You don't need anybody injecting race into a campaign in which one of the persons running is of a different race that has been there all these years. So this is the last thing that Obama needs. And he knows that. He is not a dumb man.

I did read something that shocked me today also that I saw -- not shocked me. I shouldn't have been shocked. Biden said this in 2010. It was in a Washington Post piece today. And they were saying how he is getting ready to deal with Paul Ryan.

And he said in 2010 -- this is what Biden said about Obama. "You know, he is smarter than I thought he was."

(LAUGHTER)

WILDER: What did that mean? If he is smarter than you thought he was, did you think he was just ordinary? Did you think he was below par? If he is smarter than what you thought he was, what does that mean?

Why would you say that two years after the election and the guy that brought you along to a position that you never would have occupied, but for his being there? Did Joe Biden get him elected in 2008? He may have helped, but will he help him this time is the real question.

CAVUTO: You seem to have your doubts.

WILDER: I do.

CAVUTO: OK.

WILDER: I have serious doubts. But it is too late, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

WILDER: He's stuck. It is almost like the tar baby. He's stuck with what he's got.

CAVUTO: Douglas Wilder, thank you very much.

WILDER: Thank you so much, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

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