Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is facing new scrutiny over his past ncomments that diversity in the U.S. was “a bunch of poppycock.”
Biden, who has established himself as the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination, has more recently stressed the importance of America’s diversity and criticized President Trump over his immigration policies.
“This is America, and we are strong and great because of this diversity, Mr. President, not in spite of it,” Biden said on the Democratic debate stage last month.
“America’s strength is and has always been rooted in our diversity,” Biden wrote in a tweet last month.
But Biden took an opposite view back in 1976, during his days as a U.S. senator from Delaware, and bemoaned in that bicentennial year that there was no single ethnicity that united the country, the Washington Examiner reported.
“I told you [in a previous speech] about my view that the uniqueness of America didn’t lie in the fact that we’re a great melting pot,” Biden said during an annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Boise, Idaho, in February 1976.
“We hear that all the time, about it being black and white, rich and poor, Christian and Jew — therefore we’re strong. I told you then, I thought that was a bunch of poppycock.”
“We hear that all the time, about it being black and white, rich and poor, Christian and Jew — therefore we’re strong. I told you then, I thought that was a bunch of poppycock,” he continued.
“The fact we are black and white doesn’t bring us together as a nation. The fact that we’re Christian and Jew doesn’t send us running into one another's embrace to herald our differences. The fact is that people fear differences. The fact that the reason this nation is able to be the most heterogeneous nation in the history of mankind is not because it’s a melting pot. It’s because unlike any other nation in the world, we are uniquely a product of our political institutions.
“If France tomorrow, for example, were to turn in [sic] a monarchy, I told you, I did not believe that France would substantively change. Because in France there’s an ethnicity that binds them together, a cultural tie. You don’t have that in America,” he concluded.
"In France there’s an ethnicity that binds them together, a cultural tie. You don’t have that in America."
The remarks are sure to give ammunition to progressive Democrats running for president. They have criticized the former vice president over his previous opposition to federal desegregation efforts and his past touting of his ability to work with segregationists in the Senate.
Biden has been stumbling on the campaign trail over the issue of race relations. Back in a June he was criticized after saying in a Chicago speech, “That kid wearing a hoodie may very well be the next poet laureate and not a gangbanger.”
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who’s also running for president, criticized Biden, saying, “This isn’t about a hoodie. It’s about a culture that sees a problem with a kid wearing a hoodie in the first place. Our nominee needs to have the language to talk about race in a far more constructive way.”
This week, Biden told a crowd in Iowa that “poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids.” After a very brief pause, Biden quickly continued speaking, adding: “Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.”
In response, President Trump told reporters Friday that Biden "is not playing with a full deck," adding, “He made that comment and I said, 'Whoa.'"