Cory Booker: Biden's Record On Busing Is "Problematic"

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker called former Vice President Joe Biden's language on segregation-era busing "problematic" and called on his fellow candidate to "speak about his record." Booker said the lesson of busing isn't one the Democratic nominee should have to learn at this point in time.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST:  I want to ask you about the former vice-president.  He defended his record on civil rights today after being grilled about it during last night’s debate.  Let’s listen to the former vice-president’s comments.
 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
 
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I never, never, never ever opposed voluntary busing.  And as (ph) a program that Senator Harris participated in, and it made a difference in her life.  I did support federal action to address root causes of segregation in our schools, in our communities, including taking on the banks and redlining and trying to change the way in which neighborhoods were segregated.
 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
 
KEILAR:  All right, we should note that he said he never opposed voluntary busing.  Last night he said he never opposed busing, period.  What’s your reaction?
 
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ):  Well first of all the record speaks differently in some of his quotes from the time I find reading them and again it’s decades ago, problematic.  He needs to talk to his record, as we all do.  From the 1994 Crime Bill, that I was a law student at the time, as someone who was being frankly often followed or singled-out by police, it led to the explosion of mass incarceration, something that now I have, working in the Senate, have been drawing back on those mandatory minimums (ph) and those things that were in that Crime Bill. He has to speak to his record, and the way he speaks about it is important.  You know I’ve been talking about this for the last two weeks, about him invoking language that white segregationists call him son and not boy, without the understanding of why that word boy was used by white segregationist against folks like my father and others that meant to degrade and demean and make them feel less than. The next presidential nominee, whoever they are, has to be up to the challenge of addressing these power dynamics, addressing issues of race and racism, and being able most importantly to call our country together to common ground and common purpose.  Remind us that we have more in common than separates us, and that we need to work together on issues of justice.  You’ve got to be up to that challenge.  That’s one of the reasons I’m running, because of my history and record for bringing Americans together to get things done.
 
KEILAR:  Was he sufficient today in his explanation?
 
BOOKER:  You know, again I listen to some of that language that he was using that still kind of worries me that - this is a lesson on some of these issues that a nominee shouldn’t at this point have to learn.  And again voters are going to have to make up their own decision, that our diverse party, what kind of leader are we going to have that’s going inspire us to be our best.  And by the way, none of us - certainly not me, have been perfect or without mistakes.  We all do it, but when you make a mistake, don’t fall into a defensive crouch.  Don’t try to shift blame like he said to me that I owed him an apology for his remarks. That’s not what we need right now.  You know part of being courageous is being vulnerable, is letting people know that you’re not perfect, none of us are, is letting people know that you’re going to risk putting yourself out there and trying to be a light that brings people together.  And I’m hoping that we don’t fall into this no-apology-world that Donald Trump seems to say when you do nothing wrong, make no mistakes.  I think the best leaders are the ones that step-up and say “Hey I don’t have a perfect record.  I haven’t done anything right but I’ve stayed in the saddle, continue to work and sacrifice for the greater good, I hope you’ll join me in that march.



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