Speed Reads

loose lips

Biden's segregationist comments have reportedly been a 'point of contention' in his campaign

As former Vice President Joe Biden defends his comments about working with segregationist senators, some within his campaign are leaking their disapproval to the media.

Biden has been taking fire after touting at a Tuesday event his past ability to work with segregationist senators with whom he disagreed like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, nostalgically recalling a time when "at least there was some civility" and when "we got things done." This drew criticism from some of Biden's Democratic opponents including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who called on him to apologize. But Biden has defended himself, pushing back and saying Booker is the one who should apologize.

Politico reports that Biden had been advised against talking about segregationists in this way, though, with one source saying it's been "a point of contention" but "there's only so much we can do. This is his decision."

Similarly, The Washington Post reports that some within Biden's campaign "warned him against mentioning" in public his relationship with Eastland, with aides saying "they had urged Biden to find a less toxic example" and one adviser telling the Post, "it might move him to pick a different senator." This source added, "he's not someone you can go to and just say, ‘You’ve been doing this x number of years and you can’t do this anymore.'"

A source close to Biden also told CNN, "He needs to use a new, less problematic example."

Pundits on Thursday took note of these surprising leaks coming out of the Biden campaign, with Axios' Jonathan Swan writing that it's "early in the season for negative leaks," while The New York Times' Maggie Haberman observed, "this feels like spring 2016-level Trump campaign leaks."