Former Vice President Joe Biden, the current frontrunner to win the Democratic party's presidential nomination in 2020, is under attack this week after touting his close working relationship with two segregationist senators in the 1970s.
Biden's primary opponents are piling on, while some of his former colleagues in Congress are defending him, which is more than can be said about some of his own campaign advisers. A bizarre dynamic appears to exist between Biden and these advisers, who seem all too willing to throw their boss under the bus when controversy strikes.
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Joe Biden’s advisers had warned him not to use racist former Sen. James O. Eastland as an example of someone he could work with.
But Biden did last night. Now he is under fire from 2020 foes and others. Cory Booker says he should apologize immediately. https://t.co/ifzVli2TfN
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) June 19, 2019
CNN reports that Biden advisers warned the candidate not cite James Eastland, a former Senator from Mississippi who repeatedly referred to black Americans as an "inferior race," when discussing his ability to work with people who don't share his views. A person close to Biden told CNN the former veep needed to find a "new, less problematic example."
Politico also spoke to a campaign source who said the issue had become "a point of contention" between Biden and his staff, who appear eager to wash their hands of the situation. "There’s only so much we can do. This is his decision," the source said.
It's not the first time Biden staffers have confronted the candidate on a hot-button issue. The Atlantic reports that campaign advisers previously lobbied Biden to rescind his support of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortions. They were ultimately successful, but Biden was not easily persuaded to change his position:
Joe Biden’s aides knew that the 2020 front-runner was going to get ripped apart over his support of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion procedures. They were frustrated that the former vice president wouldn’t change his stance, and that he wasn’t initially receptive to their concerns. Now that Biden has come out against Hyde, his aides are trying to prevent him from being labeled a flip-flopper.
One also gets the sense that Biden advisers are routinely annoyed with their boss's shenanigans. Former example, senior adviser Symone Sanders, who worked for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and donated to Pete Buttigieg's campaign before joining Team Biden, said she "cringed" when Biden made light of his aggressive touching scandal by claiming he had "permission to hug" a union president at a campaign event. Sanders "didn't think the joke was funny," but she'll presumably have to get used to it, because her 76-year-old boss does not seem to be very willing to change his ways.