Former Vice President Joe Biden warned on Saturday that Americans had to worry about "Jim Crow sneaking back in" in the form of voter laws aimed at what he called, "quote, people of color."
"The single most important right you have as an American is the right to vote," he told an audience in Columbia, South Carolina. "The right to vote. Folks, last year, 24 states introduced or enacted at least 70 bills to curtail the right to vote. And guess what? Mostly directed at, quote, people of color. You see it. We've got Jim Crow sneaking back in. No, I mean it."
"Jim Crow" refers to laws enacted in the south to enforce racial segregation following the Civil War and on into the 20th century.
Biden added Republicans "lose" when all Americans have an equal right to vote.
It was Biden's first trip to South Carolina, a critical early primary state where winning the African American vote is crucial. Biden has opened a wide lead in early Democratic primary polling after entering the large 2020 field late last month, thanks in part to his strong name recognition and popularity in the party.
He's focused on President Donald Trump in his early speeches, saying above all else he must be defeated.
He told the Post and Courier that his partnership with President Barack Obama uniquely suited him to battling racial injustices.
"When Barack and I worked together, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to change the systemic racism that exists and continue to work on that," Biden said. "So I think the African-American community nationwide knows who I am. I’m not saying the others aren’t qualified, I’m just saying I’ve been there."