WASHINGTON – Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden apologized Friday for comments in an earlier radio interview in which he said black voters who supported President Donald Trump "ain't black."
"I should not have been so cavalier. I've never, never, ever taken the African-American community for granted," Biden said on a call with members of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., adding he "shouldn't have been such a wise guy."
In a testy exchange Friday with African-American radio host Charlamagne tha God, Biden said "you ain’t black" if you're struggling to decide whether to back him or Trump.
During the interview on Charlamagne's program, "The Breakfast Club," the former vice president emphasized his ties to the African-American community and touted his record on civil rights. He also told Charlamagne "there are multiple black women being considered" for vice president.
About 17 minutes into the 18-minute interview, a Biden staffer is heard interrupting and telling Charlamagne, "That’s really our time. I apologize."
The host responded: "You can't do that to black media."
“I do that to white media and black media because my wife has to go on at 6” a.m., Biden said, glancing at his watch and saying, "Oh, uh oh, I'm in trouble."
Charlamagne then urged Biden to visit when he came to New York and added, "It’s a long way until November. We've got more questions."
That was when Biden retorted: "If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black."
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"I have a record that is second to none, the NAACP has endorsed me every time I've run," Biden said, throwing up his hands. The same staffer can be heard thanking Charlamagne and trying to conclude the interview.
The NAACP issued a statement later Friday clarifying the group, as a non-partisan organization, "does not endorse candidates for political office at any level."
Charlamagne Tha God later said on CNN, “A black woman running mate is necessary, especially after today.” He added that the question of “what makes somebody black” is a discussion for black people, not for “a white man.”
Biden faced fierce criticism from the Trump campaign for his remarks throughout the day.
The Trump campaign immediately slammed the remarks, calling them "disgusting" and quoting rapper Kanye West as saying, "I will not be told who I'm gonna vote on because of my color."
In a Trump campaign conference call with reporters later Friday, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the only black Republican in the Senate, said he was appalled by Biden's comments.
"I’ve been black for 54 years. I was struck by the condescension and the arrogance. I could not believe my ears that he would stoop so low," he said.
Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson called the video of the exchange between Biden and Charlamagne "the definition of white privilege," with an older white man "telling a young black man how to be black."
And Trump's Twitter account posted clips of Fox News host Harris Faulkner and Scott criticizing the comments.
"You don't have to be any particular race to know when someone puts you down because you're different," Faulkner says in the video after reading Pierson's statement.
"HARRIS IS A GREAT AMERICAN!" he wrote with Faulkner's video.
The Biden campaign responded to an initial request for comment by defending the former vice president's record on working on issues of importance to African Americans.
"Vice President Biden has spent his career fighting alongside and for the African American community," said campaign adviser Symone Sanders in a statement.
In a tweet, Sanders said Biden's comments were "in jest."
The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period.
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) May 22, 2020
This is disgusting.
Joe Biden: "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't Black." pic.twitter.com/UvYZTjcPqZ
— Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 & get the APP (@TrumpWarRoom) May 22, 2020
Contributing: Rebecca Morin
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden apologizes for suggesting black Trump voters 'ain't black'