Biden says Bloomberg will alienate black voters due to support for stop-and-frisk: $60bn ‘can’t erase your record’

Chris Riotta
DES MOINES, IA - FEBRUARY 02: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Hiatt Middle School on February 2, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. Tomorrow, Iowa voters will go to their local precincts to caucus for a one of several presidential candidates running for U.S. President. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images): Getty

Joe Biden slammed Mike Bloomberg over his record in a new interview, saying the former New York City mayor’s past support for a controversial stop-and-frisk policy would alienate black voters as he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.

In an interview with NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday, the former vice president predicted the media would soon turn its focus towards Mr Bloomberg and his “position on issues relating to the African-American community” now that the billionaire presidential hopeful has taken to the campaign trail.

Mr Biden also seemingly criticised Mr Bloomberg for spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising in key battleground states, saying: “$60bn (£46bn) can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can’t erase your record.”

“There’s a lot to talk about with Michael Bloomberg,” Mr Biden said. “You all are going to start focusing on him like you have on me ... His position on issues relating to the African-American community, from stop-and-frisk to the way he talked about [former President Obama].”

He added: ”You take a look at the stop-and-frisk proposals. You take a look at his ideas on redlining he’s talking about. You take a look at what he’s done relative to the African-American community. I’m anxious to debate Michael on the issues relating to, you know, what we’re going to face on Super Tuesday.”

Mr Biden continued to focus on Mr Bloomberg’s past record as a Republican mayor, acknowledging that he was a “real ally” on issues like gun control yet “wouldn’t even endorse Barack [Obama] in 2008.”

“He wouldn’t endorse him. You know, he endorsed Bush. He endorsed, you know, the Republican before that. All of a sudden he’s his best buddy,” he continued.

His comments came as Mr Bloomberg has climbed in national polls and state surveys throughout crucial battlegrounds ahead of Super Tuesday, when voters cast their ballots in several key states.

While the former mayor’s late entry to the Democratic primaries caused him to snub Iowa and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation votes, he has since reportedly planned to double spending on TV ads and hire thousands of more staffers nationwide.

Mr Bloomberg has also addressed his past support for the controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which targeted black and brown communities in New York City under his tenure as mayor.

But a recording of him expressing support for the measure back in 2015 stirred controversy after it went viral last week. In it Mr Bloomberg can be heard saying: “Ninety-five per cent of your murders – murderers and murder victims — fit one MO. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops.”

“They are male minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city,” the former mayor can be heard saying. “And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed.”

The clip garnered widespread backlash, including from Mr Trump, who appeared to use the recording to discredit Mr Bloomberg’s presidential bid, calling him a “total racist” in a tweet. Mr Trump has previously called for the stop-and-frisk programme to be implemented nationwide.

Mr Bloomberg released a statement after the recording was published saying that he cut back the programme “by 95 per cent” upon leaving office, adding: “I should’ve done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologised — and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on black and Latino communities.”

He added: “But this issue and my comments about it do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity.”

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