People's Party presidential candidate Cornel West, a progressive activist, went after President Biden Thursday, referring to him as "mediocre" and "milquetoast" in his first interview since announcing his long-shot third-party run for the White House.
Appearing on KBLA's Tavis Smiley podcast, West pushed back on the notion his candidacy was potentially "pulling votes away from Biden" and laid into the Democratic Party for its candidate choices.
"When somebody chooses to vote for you, you’re not pulling votes away. You see, Biden doesn’t own any votes. He’s got to earn it. He’s got to earn it," West said.
"If the Democrats are putting out mediocre, milquetoast, neoliberal politicians who can’t say a mumbling word about militarism, can’t say a mumbling word about a serious response to poverty, can’t say a mumbling word about serious White supremacist practices — I mean, Biden himself said America is not a racist society. I said, ‘Get off the crack pipe,’" he added.
West was referring to a 2021 speech in which Biden said he didn't think America was a racist nation, but said that slavery and former Jim Crow laws "had a cost" on the country.
West went on to blast Biden for not supporting a full-scale end to the Senate filibuster, although the president has supported a carveout of the rule in order to pass legislation on abortion and voting rights. He then blamed Democrats for creating the space that he said made his candidacy necessary.
"If they produced a candidate that spoke to the needs of precious poor and working-class folk, they wouldn’t have me. They wouldn’t have to deal with that," West said. "They’ve got a corporate wing of the Democratic Party that does not treat the progressive wing right. It’s shown over and over again."
"You know, I supported Bernie [Sanders] twice. I supported Biden the last time. I did because I thought that Trump’s fascism was such that we had to fight. Does that mean that we’re choosing between a neo-fascist catastrophe and a neoliberal disaster? That every Democratic president can say, 'I’m not almighty, but I am the alternative. You all have no other choice to vote for me.' And then when he gets in there, he wouldn’t be in there if it wasn’t for Black folks, especially Black women," he added.
West announced his candidacy for the presidency in a Monday video posted on Twitter. In the video, he took swings at both Democrats and Republicans and declared that he was running for "truth and justice."
"The presidency is just one vehicle to pursue the truth and justice I’ve been trying to do all my life," he said.
Fox News' Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report.