Is former Vice President Joe Biden’s inner circle too white? Some Democrats are worried it is, according to a New York Times report -- even as his presidential campaign is actively adding a diverse group of high-level advisers.
Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, fended off primary competition carried by strong support from African-American voters in the South.
He also served two terms as vice president to the country’s first black president, Barack Obama.
But his top aides and advisers are mostly white, according to The Times report.
“If you look at the traditional inner circle, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of voices of color around the table,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a high-ranking House Democrat who is African-American, told the newspaper.
There’s Symone Sanders, a senior adviser who also famously tackled a protester who tried to rush Biden on stage at a rally on Super Tuesday. And Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond is reportedly another close adviser. Both of them are black.
“The team is not built out yet,” Richmond told the Times. “We absolutely are cognizant of how it looks. We believe that optics show values and we’re going to continue to strive to get it right.”
And two recent hires include veteran Obama strategists Julie Chavez Rodriguez, who is Hispanic, and Karine Jean-Pierre, who is black, the report noted.
Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s 2020 campaign manager, tweeted last month that the two would work on more than just minority outreach and are “no more here to work only on voters who look like them than I am."
“People of color have power here,” Sanders told the paper. “When it comes to the purse strings, when it comes to access, when it comes to strategy, when it comes to messaging.”
And the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee has already promised to choose a female running mate and nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court.
Still, some in the party see underrepresentation from African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic demographics in Biden's close proximity as potential campaign weaknesses, according to the report.
Biden also brought backlash upon himself last month following an interview with radio host Charlamagne tha God during which he said, “I tell you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or [President] Trump, then you ain’t black.”
That and other missteps have raised concerns.
As Fox News’ Juan Williams noted in an op-ed that also appeared in The Times this week, African-American voter turnout in key swing states could have a major influence on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
“Joe Biden would be retired if not for the black vote,” Williams wrote.