In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump, when campaigning for African-American votes, asked “What the hell do you have to lose?”
In 2020, the President and his surrogates look to be making the case again by spotlighting recent gaffes from Democratic opponent Joe Biden, putting them in context of a longer history of quotes on racial matters that didn’t age well.
Friday saw one of those gaffes.
Biden closed an interview with The Breakfast Club , a staple of commercial R&B radio, telling host Charlamagne Tha God and the audience that “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
The “Trump War Room,” an arm of the campaign, spotlighted the appearance in an email, provocatively-entitled “Joe Biden Thinks He Owns Black Americans’ Votes. He Doesn’t.”
“Joe Biden’s racist comments are shocking,” the email contends.
It goes on to say that Biden is “not entitled to Black Americans’ vote simply because of their skin color. Yet he acts like he owns them.”
The email also provides evidence of a deep dive into oppo research, including Biden in 1975 enthusing about a “liberal George Wallace — someone who’s not afraid to stand up and offend people, someone who wouldn’t pander but would say what the American people know in their gut is right.”
Whether that reference to a former segregationist Governor of Alabama is relevant to the 2020 political discourse is an open question, given that Democratic voters have overwhelmingly chosen Biden in primaries, with African-American voters in the South turning the tide for a once-faltering campaign.
The email also spotlighted a 1993 quote “about that cadre of young people – tens of thousands of them, born out of wedlock, without parents, without supervision, without any structure, without any conscience developing … predators on our streets,” a reminder of Biden’s support for mass incarceration policies in the Senate.
Expect African-American Republicans to make the strenuous case that Biden is tone-deaf and wrong on racial issues.
“This guy, because he’s trying to win an election, comes out and says that if I’m supporting Donald Trump, that I’m not black? Who the hell are you?”
United States Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina likewise was uncompromising in his response to Biden, saying it’s “par for the course for Democrats to take the black community for granted and browbeat those that don’t agree.”