FLASHBACK: Biden Touted 'Slave State' Delaware in Southern Strategy

June 19, 2019

Then-Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.) touted his state of Delaware being a former "slave state" as part of his appeal to southerners during the run-up to his 2008 presidential bid.

In a 2006 appearance on Fox News Sunday, anchor Chris Wallace asked Biden about how he could win in places like South Carolina when hailing from a blue state.

"What kind of a chance would a northeastern liberal like Joe Biden stand in the south if you were running in Democratic primaries against southerners like Mark Warner and John Edwards?" Wallace asked.

"Better than anybody else," Biden replied. "And you don't know my state. My state was a slave state. My state is a border state. My state is the eighth-largest black population in the country. My state is anything from a northeast, liberal state."

No Republican has carried Delaware in a presidential election since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Biden also invoked Delaware's "slave state" past while speaking in South Carolina to the Columbia Rotary Club that year, joking Delaware would have fought in the Confederacy if not for its geographic location.

Delaware "was a slave state that fought beside the North," he said. "That's only because we couldn't figure out how to get to the South. There were a couple of states in the way."

The remarks weren't favorably received. CBS News's Vaughn Ververs asked why it wasn't considered a "scandal," while columnist Kathleen Parker wrote Biden playing "redneck" was "embarrassing."

Biden is under fire again in 2019 after invoking the names of two segregationist senators while recounting a more civil time in American politics. The former vice president is leading the crowded 2020 Democratic field in polls and has pitched himself as more willing to work across the aisle than his more progressive challengers.

Biden has a history of controversial remarks around race. He referred to then-Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) in 2007 as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Obama wound up capturing the 2008 nomination and naming Biden his running mate.

In 2012, when he and Obama were seeking re-election, Biden said the Republican ticket led by Mitt Romney was going to put African Americans "back in chains."

Published under: 2020 Election , Joe Biden