ATLANTA (AP) — Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, had a testy exchange with a prominent black radio personality on Friday over his support among black voters and his potential running mate.
Charlamagne Tha God pressed Biden on reports that he is considering Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is white, to be vice president and told him black voters “saved your political life in the primaries” and “have things they want from you.”
“I’m not acknowledging anybody who is being considered,” Biden said. “But I guarantee you there are multiple black women being considered. Multiple.”
A Biden aide then sought to end the interview, prompting the host to say, “you can’t do that to black media.”
Biden responded, “I do that to black media and white media” and said his wife needed to use the television studio.
He then added: “If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black.”
The host countered that conversations about Biden’s running mate aren’t about Trump, whom many black voters view as racist.
“Take a look at my record,” Biden said, citing his work as senator to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run. Come on, take a look at my record.”
Biden has emphasized his relationship with black voters throughout his campaign, noting throughout the primary campaign his dependence on black voters in his Delaware Senate races and his partnership as former President Barack Obama’s top lieutenant.
Black voters resurrected Biden’s campaign with a second place finish in the Nevada caucuses and a resounding win in the South Carolina primary after he’d started with embarrassing finishes in overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire.
Older black voters especially sided with Biden over a wide Democratic field that included several black candidates, including Kamala Harris. The California senator is widely believed to be a contender for the vice-presidential nomination. Other prominent black women named include Georgia voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Florida Rep. Val Demings, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge and Susan Rice, Obama’s former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
Separately on Friday, Biden used a CNBC interview to condemn a proposal from the Chinese government to crack down on semi-autonomous Hong Kong, and he suggested that Trump isn’t being vocal enough in his opposition.
Biden said he’d “be at the U.N.” calling out Beijing for an “overwhelming violation not only of an agreement but on human rights.”
Communist leaders in Beijing proposed national security legislation that could limit opposition activity in Hong Kong, a former British colony that enjoys more western-style democracy than the rest of China. The move prompted bipartisan calls on Capitol Hill for sanctions against Beijing.
Trump did not immediately join that response, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement condemning China’s effort and calling it “a death knell for the high degree of autonomy” that Beijing had promised the territory.
Biden framed Trump’s response as “silence” that is “devastating” for citizens of non-democratic nations around the world. “All it does is encourage thugs and dictators,” Biden said. “Look at who he embraces and look at who he pokes in the eye.”
Trump has stepped carefully around Hong Kong-Beijing relations during his presidency, expressing agreement with the bipartisan U.S. support for Hong Kong, but also praising Chinese President Xi Jinping amid ongoing trade negotiations.