Joseph R. Biden Jr. addressed an elite audience and described how, as a young senator, he had learned to work with Jesse Helms, the right-wing North Carolian known for his fierce rejection of civil rights and his open hatred of homosexuals People. He once believed that Mr. Helms had "no redeeming social value," Mr. Biden said until a high-ranking Democratic senator scolded him and declared that Mr. Helms and his wife had adopted a disabled teenager.
It was a moment of revelation, Mr. Biden said.
"It's terribly hard to reach across the table and shake hands," he said. "No matter how bitter you disagree, it's always possible to question the verdict, not the motive."
When Mr. Biden visits the White House four years later, he remembers working with persistent reactionaries – including segregationists like James O. Eastland and Herman Talmadge – provoked a very different reaction. His apparent nostalgia for compromising even with racist personalities like them triggered a new disruptive controversy in his election campaign when liberal leaders and democratic rivals accused him of being insensitive and non-contact.
The criticism has deeply upset Mr. Biden, Associates says, is outraged by what he sees as politically motivated in facing competing presidential candidates. His reaction has cracked with the disappointment of a man who feels he is misunderstood and caricatured. Asked by a reporter about Senator Cory Booker's request to apologize, Mr. Biden replied, "Excuse me for what?"
"He knows better," Mr. Biden said about Mr. Booker. "I do not have a racist bone in my body."
In other words, Mr. Biden seemed to insist he has not changed – he remains the same man who laid down his office as a beloved Democrat Democrat in 2017, and a friend of lawmakers like Mr. Booker.
However, if Mr. Biden remains the same character he was two and a half years ago, the political and cultural environment around him is quite different. Democratic politics today is characterized by distress and a quarterly ethos on issues such as racial justice and abortion rights, in which the liberals regard their fundamental values as under attack.
Mr. Biden's resistance to adapting to this mood could well determine his campaign.
[Indefenseofhisstatementsaboutsegregationists Mr. Biden left a bit of history .]
Stories that voters once heard as popular tales about the senate of the last century did not sound like an electorate driven by President Trump's blunt appeals to racial anemic more so kind. A majority of Americans believe that Mr. Trump's race relations have deteriorated, and liberal constituencies seem far less receptive to the idea that even the worst racists can be negotiated with.
Cornell William Brooks, the former president of NAACP Biden, had to acknowledge that political times had changed more drastically than the run would imply for a few years.
"The White House has used the Balkanization of races and ethnic groups as a campaign strategy, with xenophobia being a dependable strategy issue," said Mr. Brooks. "In this context, it is wrong to talk about two segregationist senators as a measure of civility."
The latest data and analysis to keep track of who the race leads to be the Democratic candidate.]
Mr. Brooks, who is now a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said Mr Biden had a "reservoir of credibility" with Democrats that left him room for a course correction – if he used the southern segregationists as a point of reference in his rhetoric of reconciliation and Impartiality would give up. Mr. Brooks made a special exception to Mr. Biden's mention that Mr. Eastland calls him "son" rather than "boy," which is often dismissed in African Americans.
Partisan walk, "said Mr. Brooks," but they also want to know where to draw the moral line. «
This is not the first time in Biden's brief campaign that he has come under pressure to reject aspects of the worldview and political style that defined him as senator and vice-president. This month, Mr. Biden reversed his long-standing disapproval of government funding of abortions, after he had been impressed by women's rights adjutants and advocates that a conservative approach to abortion rights had changed the political momentum in the matter.
In April he was confronted with criticism by a number of women who said he had made her uncomfortable with his physical condition – a feature that had long been known to the public – . Biden said he saw tactile contact as part of making a "human connection," but acknowledged that "social norms are beginning to change."
Mr. Biden continues to face intense scrutiny of his racial and prosecution records, notably his role in negotiating a criminal justice law in the 1990s with Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a former segregationist at whose funeral Mr. Biden was being discussed A laudatory speech in 2003.
Yet Biden's belief in the power of bipartisanship, in overcoming ideological and even moral boundaries to forge business in the government, is far more central to his political identity than his views on abortion. His ability to attract and bring conservatives to his side is fundamental to his campaign strategy and his doctrine of governance: Mr Biden has claimed that he could win states as red as South Carolina in the general election, and that could Even the Republican senators who defeated the Obama administration's agenda for working with him have jawbones.
Im In general, Mr. Biden may not have the worse end of the argument: A Pew poll published this week revealed that most Americans, including about 7 out of 10 Democrats, said so. For elected officials it is very important to make compromises , The partisans on the left and right, however, were mainly interested in the other side making concessions.
When Mr. Biden's preference for Comity conflicts with fundamental issues such as gender and race, Democrats may have far less patience with his views. Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics at the University of London at Birkbeck College, said his research showed that, in particular, white progressives had become increasingly worrying over racism in recent years due to attitudinal changes caused by the social media and the rise of Mr. Trump , As a result, they are much less interested in reactionary attitudes.
"The willingness to do business would basically pollute you," Kaufmann described this view. "It would be a violation of the saint rather than a transaction."
Mr. Biden and his advisers continue to believe that there are more than enough voters who agree with his report on his maneuver records in the Senate. Kate Bedingfield, an adviser to Mr. Biden, said on CNN Friday morning that the purpose of the story is to sometimes work with people "whose views you find repugnant."
I think it was frustrating that one History, which he has often told, has been torn out of context.
However, for the critics of Mr. Biden, the other context – the present – is the most important.
In His Appeal This week, Mr. Biden apologized and was reprimanded by Mr. Booker for not being able to cope with the current political atmosphere. "A time when divisions, racial hatred and bigotry broke out in the highest offices of the country."